Nov 30, 2007

Wasaga Strip Suffers Major Fire

Every summer I spend a couple weekends up at Wasaga Beach near Collingwood. The beaches are fanastic, both warm and shallow owing to the ebb and flow of sandbars that stretch along this freshwater beach, dubbed the longest in the world. The main beach is way too crowded usually so I linger further down to catch some sun and make a stop at the infamous Wasaga strip before I go home. Wandering along these tacky shops that overflow onto the sidewalk had become a tradition for me. I'd pick up a couple bikinis, maybe a pair of sunglasses or a summer dress and a few cheap tank tops too. This summer I had a camera in hand and spent a bit more time exploring the strip and the area around it. It's getting ugly on the main drag, I thought, as construction crews toiled away at gaudy mirrored buildings I knew would become hotspots for muscled men showing off their summer pecs. It seems the kind of place these men with their flashy cars would love. Moving away from all the loud cars assaulting my senses I found the old strip, a beautiful and charming pedestrian area that seemed time had forgotten. There were peeling buildings in bright colours and blow up toys for kids and even a vacant art deco building that may have once been a theatre. This old Wasaga strip no longer attracted the attention of passersby, business along it appeared to be struggling, but to me it was magic. I could see the potential of these historic buildings to bring a different crowd to Wasaga. People who wanted to enjoy a sidewalk cafe or a market while admiring the beauty of the architecture to be found there. I suppose that's what I would want.

News this morning breaks me out of my reverie. A fire's blasted through the strip, destroying 75% of the buildings and homes along the Nottawasaga Bay. It's devastating. I hope that councillors and businesses in the area pay respect to Wasaga's past by re-building and chosing to re-live some of its former charm. My feeling though is that they'll continue to build and approve the unfortunate style of architecture they currently are on the beachside and also continue to appeal to the riffraff that have given this sweet little town a bit of a bad name.


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