OPINION: Time to repeal old by-laws to move Cornwall forward

Image of Nick Seebruch
By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: Time to repeal old by-laws to move Cornwall forward
The Seaway building was one of the taller structures built before the by-law restricting building height was put in place (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

Sometimes progress means building something new or council passing a new initiative, other times, in means repealing old regulations that don’t make sense anymore to make way for new development.

This coming Monday night, Cornwall City Council will be looking at repealing two by-laws that each restrict business and economic growth in Cornwall in different ways.

Councillor Justin Towndale moved both motions. One would end the prohibition on arcades in Corwnall and the other, would remove the building height limit.

Both of these by-laws should be repealed. For different reasons, they are both archaic, but they are both hindering growth in the city.

The Arcade

Now, the idea of an arcade itself might be past it’s time, but I think the reasoning behind Cornwall banning them in the first place is even more out of date.

According to the motion to repeal the by-law, Cornwall City Council first put the prohibition in place in the early ‘90s to limit the sale and consumption of drugs in the city.

We’ve come a long way when it comes to drug consumption since the ‘90s. I think the drug they were worried about kids doing was pot, which is now legal and on top of that, I don’t think that kids would go to smoke weed at an arcade. If anything, they’re going to vape, but that’s another problem for another day.

Once this by-law is repealed, the question is, will there be a sprouting of new arcades within the city? I think one or two is a possibility, but it is hard to say how successful they would be. Councillor Towndale points to cities like Toronto, Ottawa, and Cincinnati as examples of the renaissance of the concept of arcades. However, I think they might not be as popular in Cornwall in 2019.

These new arcades do not look like something out of the 1980s and ‘90s. There will probably be an old pinball machine or two for nostalgia sake, but the main attraction will be modern gaming systems like the XBox One and the coming PS5.

A lot of these console game systems already have online multiplayer, so why would kids leave their basements to go down and play with their friends at an arcade when they could do so from home?

Even if arcades are not a million-dollar prospect, I still think that it is good that this by-law is being repealed. Worst case scenario, an old by-law gets taken off the books before Cornwall becomes a trivia question on towns with archaic rules, best case scenario someone starts a successful new business in the city.

Building height limit

The second by-law Councillor Towndale is taking aim at is a by-law that restricts the maximum height of buildings to 90 feet.

This by-law was put in place after buildings like the Seaway Building on the corner of Pitt and Second streets was built.

I’m of two minds on this one. On the one hand, I think that it could be economically beneficial to remove the construction limit, but it all depends on where these buildings will be built.

I saw one-reader comment on our story about this on social media that he would not want to see highrise condos or skyscrapers built along the waterfront, blocking the view. This I agree with. I think the view of our waterfront is an important tourist attraction, it belongs to everyone and should not be privatized.

However, by having this restriction in place, we are automatically leaving Cornwall out of the competition for certain kinds of development.

Cornwall can always choose to restrict development of taller buildings to small parts of the city, but first, they must repeal the current rules they have in place.

What do you think readers about the potential repeal of these two by-laws? Email me a Letter to the Editor at nseebruch@seawaynews.media

Share this article