What Are Your Ideas for the Collingwood Terminals?

Wasaga has the Beach.  Blue Mountain has the Escarpment.  Collingwood has the Terminals.

Recently, Collingwood council passed a motion asking staff to prepare a “modified tender process” for the possible sale and future uses for the iconic grain elevator structure which was declared surplus by the Town in 2006.  Few buildings provoke reaction among the public like this monolithic structure so the debate about to ensue in the community will be one to watch.  Facebook is already filling up with rants and raves on the issue.

This morning, I dug around in my office and pulled out a 4” thick report prepare back in 1999 which was a study done at that time looking at the feasibility of redevelopment of the Terminals at that time.  I don’t know what it cost to complete but I’m sure it was substantial enough that I hope the current council and staff dust off the cover and have a fresh read through.

A bit of history – back in 1899, Collingwood council identified the need to erect a modern grain elevator and in true political fashion, it wasn’t until September 1, 1928 that the first pilings were driven into the ground.  By May, 1929, the fifty, 100 foot high by 22 feet wide grain bins received their first shipment; 228,000 bushels of American grain delivered by the steamer, MUNISING.  The shipment of grain continued until 1993 when the last shipment left and ended 64 years of trade from this structure.  The facility was purchased by the Town of Collingwood and remains a municipal asset to this day.

In a survey of done of public input in the late 1990’s, 97% of respondents stated the structure should remain and only 3% suggested demolition.  The most often cited ideas for future use were:

– A public restaurant on or near the top (58%)
– Shops and services (48%)
– Hotel and/or condominiums (35%)

Having once had the opportunity to visit the third floor myself, I can tell you that the view is nothing short of breathtaking and the idea of being able to create public access to that level is rather irresistible in my books.

Back to the study, there were  a huge range of ideas presented.  One of the more interesting ones came from a local engineering firm who proposed, “The Collingwood Aerial” – a gondola connecting the grain elevators to points downtown, to the west end and to Blue Mountain.  They said it would be “a lynch pin in Collingwood’s economic tourism future.”  They envisioned people arriving by train to a terminus point at the elevators from which they could choose a destination.  Like many great ideas that have come and gone, I suspect this one may just have been ahead of its time.

In addition to a restaurant/bar, shops or hotel/condominiums, there were many other ideas:

  • Yacht racing viewing gallery
    Observation deck
    Theatre/concert hall
    High quality commercial office space
    Meeting room
    Art Gallery
    Marine Museum
    Youth Centre
    Sports facility (climbing walls, racquetball courts, skateboard park)
    Tourist locker facilities
    Rental outlets for bikes, roller blades, fishing or hiking gear, etc
    Resort Hospitality Training Centre
    A cruise ship terminal

(I recently posted a question on my Facebook page and respondents gave many of the same suggestions.  One of the most hilarious though was to paint LOL on the water side facing Wasaga Beach.)

In the end, the study determined that any adaptive re-use had to have strong economic return and deemed that the highest and best use would be for a hotel and restaurant with ancillary shops, observation gallery, a bar and other minor complimentary uses.

The Collingwood Planning Department has started a blog where you can keep up to date on this project and share your comments.

So, what are your ideas for the future uses of the Collingwood Terminals?

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About Marg

is an award-winning real estate Broker who has successfully been helping people move since 1989. When it’s time for a move in or out of a bigger, smaller, better, more expensive, less expensive, newer, older, house, condo, farm, investment property, vacant lot or business, talk to Marg.

This entry was posted by Marg on Tuesday, September 20th, 2011 at 1:16 am and is filed under About Town, Collingwood Real Estate, Heritage, Local News and Current Events. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. dan says:

    Hi i just saw the article in paper, about the 2 guys wanting to grow mushrooms in the terminals. what a great idea, bring money to the town. most important create jobs. Come on council give them a chance. Do something with it. It seems a shame for a sound struture to just sit there. Oh ya i could sure use a job about now.

    Thanks for your time.

  2. Marg says:

    It sounds like an interesting proposal, doesn’t it? And good potential for job creation too.

  3. Maggie says:

    I think it would be a great Casino location. This would bring so much to Collingwood, jobs, entertainment, etc…A big idea for a developing town. I contacted the OLG to let them know about this great opportunity.

  4. Marg says:

    Interesting idea Maggie but how would you move that many people through the building? If you have a casino occupy several floors inside, you’d need so many elevators that you’d lose lots of floor space. This is what essentially killed the theatre idea. Moving large numbers of people quickly is tricky.

  5. Andrew says:

    I like the sports complex idea, especially climbing walls. I have seen many old silos turned into climbing walls and although using all fifty bins is a bit outlandish it is probably the cheapest way to use at least a few of them. Another interesting thing I have seen is indoor skydiving; a powerful turbine is installed in the floor of a tall cylindrical room and the upward draft simulates the effect of skydiving, the collingwood, blue mountain area attracts a fairly large amount of sports enthusiasts with the ski hills, mountain biking and water sports that i feel this would be a popular addition to the town.

  6. Linda says:

    Wheat silos at Bunbury, Western Australia, have been converted to apartments with a very nice look to the finished building. When I saw this blog, I started looking around on the internet for a good example and just posted the resulting links at

  7. Marg says:

    I just read your post on the planners site and it is certainly inspiring. I think condos are very possible but it will be expensive to convert the structure and they would be very high-end I’m sure. Parking would need to be addressed as well as continued public access as it is well loved. The solar chimney idea is great – perhaps the whole building could be “green.” There have been proposals in the past from developers and there may be again. Hopefully they’ll read your post and links. Thanks for your comment and thanks for being an active participate in the community!

  8. Linda says:

    Perhaps the Terminals could have a data center as one of its uses. In Laval, Quebec, a 36-foot-wide, 65-foot-high circular concrete silo was converted into a data center with three levels of servers in a central core.

    The structure, which has an outer cool-air section, was found to provide highly efficient cooling for the supercomputer and the waste heat is used to heat other parts of the site.

    The conversion won an InfoWorld 2010 Green 15 Award. Reference: ‘The green IT stars of 2010’ by Ted Samson.

    In a related link, the US Department of Energy has uploaded a video that gives a good description of an energy-efficient cooling system in a data center.
    ‘Energy 101: Energy Efficient Data Centers’

  9. Marg says:

    Interesting comment Linda. I have though been reading quite a bit lately about the environmental impact of data centres and it appears to be quite significant. Given that we want sustainable industry, do you think that fits?

    Recently, the Town did accept a conditional bid on a the elevators and I gather it is not the mushroom guy. Not sure what the intended use is now. It would appear there are many interesting options and as the years go by, those options change as the world changes. I had not heard the idea of a data centre before and it’s a perfect example of changing times.

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