Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Co-op Investment in Clarenville vs. Ticky Tacky Boxes

The Clarenville Co-op held their annual general meeting this past week and I see from their financial statements that they invested just over $4 million into the development and construction of their new store/carwash/gasbar on Shoal Harbour Drive.  By any measure, that’s a substantial investment by the Co-op in its future.   

I use the word “investment” purposefully.   Anyone who has had the opportunity to visit that new facility will know that it is as good, or better, than any comparable facility anywhere – It came at a high absolute cost but it stands as a testament to the Co-op’s commitment to Clarenville (and the region) and its members. 

I want to see that same commitment shared more broadly in Clarenville by developers and businesses.  To illustrate my point,  drive past (or better, walk past) some of the stuff that has been built in Clarenville lately and take notice.  The vast majority of the commercial buildings that have been “erected’ over the past number of years are simple steel box, industrial type structures that resemble more of something found in a mining camp rather than something more substantial and permanent found in a town people establish roots in – these tin can buildings exude function over form and are most certainly designed to generate revenue and quick return on investment for their owners rather than instilling a commitment to the long term and a pride of place. If these buildings look awful now, imagine what they will look like in 10-40 years (Imagine many many eyesore buildings similar to our former stadium!)    I would go as far to argue that these constructions will perpetuate the old notion that Clarenville is a "transient town" rather than instill a notion of Clarenville being a great place to call "home" for its community of residents.  

Our Town's building regulations and approvals, must go further than just defining the placement of buildings, they should encourage aesthetics in design so as to create a much stronger sense of commitment to our community and a pride of place.  Developers too need to feed off the Co-op example and build for the long term.  Sadly the growing sea of ticky-tacky steel and plastic boxes that we call Clarenville may symbolize statistical growth but it does not represent the development of a sustainable community.  

The Co-op’s efforts and commitment to place should set the standard – it’s more expensive,  but it’s worth so much more than the cost.    


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