New facility, viewing tower proposed for downtown


By Barb McKay


A proposal for a multiuse building and observation tower next to the Kincardine Centre for the Arts received mixed reviews from Kincardine councillors last week.


Longtime Kincardine businessman Bryan Walden made a pitch during last Wednesday’s council meeting for a project he said would draw more people to the downtown. The proposal is to tear down the former fire hall and construct a building that could hold a café, public washrooms, a gift shop and potentially an extension of the art gallery. Attached to the building would be an outdoor stage with lighting and sound equipment that could be used by groups like the Kincardine Scottish Festival, Kincardine Summer Music Festival and Kincardine Scottish Pipe Band, as well as visiting entertainers.


Walden is also proposing an observation tower with an elevator for individuals with mobility challenges. He said it would give visitors and locals a perfect view of the sunsets.


“The viewing tower alone could easily attract tens of thousands of people to the community,” he said. “I honestly believe that my suggestion has significant merit and would be a fabulous asset to the community.”


Walden presented preliminary sketches of the building, stage and tower and asked for council’s support so that the project can be reviewed in more detail to determine if there is potential for it to move forward.


Councillor Laura Haight said Kincardine already has many great spots to watch the sunsets, including Queen’s Lookout and the beaches. She said the tower does not fit in with the surrounding architecture and would destroy the look of the area.


Walden said he spent 30 years on initiatives to improve the core area. He said people were first opposed to the idea of the boardwalk and now it is well used.


“I don’t believe in status quo. I believe we need to keep making improvements.”


Walden said his vision for the building is that it would be an extension of the Arts Centre and blend in.


Mayor Anne Eadie said it is always good for council to hear ideas, and if the municipality had plenty of money the building would be nice. Walden said he is only looking for council support for the proposal at this time and has ideas for how to fund it. He said the majority of the money would not come from the municipality.


Councillor Maureen Couture suggested that the proposal be referred to the newly formed Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee to review and provide feedback on and council agreed.