Virtual Focus Group 2 – architecture, in which we attempt to define the look and feel of the community.

Before we get into the report there’s something we’d like to address. One of you objected to this survey because we did not provide visual examples of the four styles. We did it that way because rather than ask you to choose from specific examples, we wanted you to choose from what you imagined a particular concept would be, and you did.

We now have enough guidance for a talented and creative architect to interpret from, and eventually a number of buildable options will be placed before you for further discussion. At that point you will be choosing among some realistically rendered options.

Just to refresh your memory have a look again at the questionnaire:

1 – Rural Ontario. The community looks almost as though it once could have been a large farm. The Community Center looks like a big old farmhouse, the condos and other larger dwellings are arranged and detailed to reflect the functional randomness of Barns and out buildings. And the cluster bungalows have the steep roofs and brick character of the main building. Materials are mostly brick and wood. Colours are typical of the established farms in the area. The impression is rustic, Rural Ontario


2 – Muskoka Cottage. The community looks like a season-round vacation spot. Designs are high-end cottage look, with timber frame construction and the look of cedar shake roofs. Walls combine the look of dry-laid stone with timbers and brick accents.


3 – Modern Community. The community looks a lot like many other new residential communities. Larger buildings are nicely appointed in the contemporary manner of similar communities in the area. They are designed to blend in rather than stand out, and cost and functionality drive most construction decisions.


4 – Small Town Ontario. This bears a close family resemblance to small towns and villages all around Ontario, such as Meaford. It’s made from modern-day materials and is clearly not 100+ years old, but the buildings make clear reference to the indigenous historic architecture of the area.


Which three words would you use to express what you would like the feel, the image of the development, to be?

This space is for you to add your thoughts. For instance, what else should be on this list? What have we missed that would make a meaningful difference to you?


Well, friends, this may have been the most straightforward and clear focus group result we’ve ever seen. Sometimes it’s not so clear, but not this time; here’s how you voted:

Modern Look: BOOOOOOO!!!
Muskoka Look: EEAAA….NO.
Rural Look: Yeaaaah, …maybe!
Small Town Ontario: YAYYYYY! (crowd roars, throws hats in the air)

Yes, it was a resounding majority for Small Town Ontario. In somewhat more technical terms, the Small Town Ontario look scored the fewest ones and twos on the five-scale (4) and the most fours and fives (27). The modern look got the most ones and twos (25) and the fewest fours and fives (11).

Perhaps we could have guessed this but it’s reassuring to know how you feel. Meaford is a lovely small town, unspoiled by the excesses on the other side of the mountain (the blue one). It appears that we all find that rather appealing, so of course Meaford Haven should look and feel like an extension of the Town of Meaford.

And so it shall.

So, stay tuned there’s more to come.

Meanwhile, have a look at what your future neighbours wrote in the comment box:

Great article, thank you again for writing. (We think this refers to the story on Three-Seasons Communities that ran in the Toronto Star last August).

I would like to see large window options for the areas with a forest or trail view.
The thought of a single story house with No stairs is very appealing.
I think the Moskoka look is one of good taste and is open to a lot more variations and options. The use of natural stone from this area should be a big consideration.

I presently live in a bungalo condo developement in Manitoba…we love it.
Small town feel, relaxed lifestyle, have lived the big city life and when retired we only want to enjoy the rest of our years in comfort.
We have the best of everything here and are looking to relocate eventually to ON to be near the grandkids.
Small town…close to all amenities is great. Presently we are a bedroom community just 30 min from big city.

Some open spaces as many as economics allow
As many shade trees as space and cost issues allow

brick pathways, interesting street lights, varied colours.

lots of foliage (trees, shrubs )
some connnection to the Bay

These choices are too broad a selection for us to choose any. All of them can give us a good feeling with proper design depending on the materials used. A better way perhaps is to give examples of each category or have a mix of styles within the development. (You’re right, but you’re also ahead of the process. See above, and thank you).

I think the ‘small town’ and ‘modern community’ are the best choices and even a combination of both would be interesting. Until an actual picture is shown it is hard to say what could be missing. (Yep, pictures come next).

mature trees , big covered porches, spillover parking

Have a look at the Maple Meadows project in Meaford. A very nice looking development. Whatever you do, please don’t go Muskoka Cottage. It will end up looking like all the other Collingwood/Thornbury area developments.

Incorporate rainbarrels for plant watering
Compost site – individual or central
Use of stone and timber very appealing

Thanks for the opportunity

We are looking for a community that is affordable, friendly and has an active community center with many activities but not necessarily a pool. Front porches would be a bonus that would encourage neighbourliness.


As people age they like fresh clean colours, probably because the eyes don’t process dark to light as quickly as they once did. Also, natural colours should be brought in by way of grass, shrubs and flowers, not dark paints.

easy exterior maintenance.
no rotting wood and surfaces that require constant painting.
brick and stone exterior, no vinyl

If basements, please have windows installed in basements. Also having privacy from the back of homes, if you have seen Maple Meadows in Meaford you will see that is where their plans were not suitable for me when I intended to buy there.

The most important thing for me, would be to ensure that the building are adapted towards seniors; no/very few steps, ensuring all properties are built with safety and comfort in mind and opportunities to socialize with other people. For example, slip free floors, possibly cupboards and shelves that rotate, less bending, etc.

I would like to see a community that includes all the basic needs for seniors. Where it would be possible to live without having to drive.

I like the look of the old Ontario farmhouses and Georgian manors with zipper edge brickwork, keystone arches, gingerbread trim, oak doors with brass kickplates, stained glass accent windows. An old world exterior but with a modern interior. Like taking an old farm house and stripping it to the clapboards, putting up new stud walls with modern insulation, wiring, plumbing, internet network, entertainment and security wiring, with chair rails and cornice mouldings thrown in for good measure.

Verandahs on single residences.
Pretty Views, natural or landscaped.
Variety of building styles.
Variety of building materials.
Community Layout interesting using curved paths and streets etc.

Lots of high quality windows but not so many as to deny privacy but rather to let in lots of light, follow a consistent style — do NOT try to be all things to all people, invite opinion from existing members of the local community.

Fences but not of the stockade variety define boundaries

A lot depends on whether this is near water. A Peggy’s Cove, though not part of the “local” architecture, has withstood the test of time and is as lovely as ever with the cheery colours. Particularly during the winter months and rainy season this would be so much more charming than just neutral shades.

We also asked what three words would describe what this should be. Not everyone can keep to three words, but the answers are pretty interesting! Note how often the words, “welcoming or inviting” “comfortable or convenient” and references to nature come up:

Days gone by

inviting, secure, restful

Welcoming Woodsy Warm

Comfortable, Casual, Unimposing

Impressive inviting comfortable

comfortable relaxation serenity

elegant, classic, withstands the passage of time without looking “dated”, high quality materials used. higher than average ceilings to give the impression of spaciousness, allow tenants choice in decor and finishing in order to encourage individuality without allowing anything freakish, neutral exterior colours which stand the test of time

Functional, low-maintenance, inviting Close knit Charming Natural

Niagara on the lakish. Bayfieldish. Swiss Mountain Villageish.
rustic but sophisticated

modern classic convenience

Sophisticated, organized, cultured

practical, warm, comfortable

Affordble, inviting, regulations.

Peacefull – quaint – friendly

Small Town, Modern Material

blending, current, open

authentic rustic rural

Clean, fresh, new


Friendly, involved, active

secure, warm, welcoming

Solid looking. Urban rustic. Treed.

The Image of the Development should celebrate small Town Ontario with all the Flair and Charm of it, but also the Area which of course is Geogian Bay!
I do not know at the Moment how this could be done in Detail, but it would be worthwhile to check more deeply into. A Question, why would the Condo Buliding be only 3 Floors high? Why not at least 4 or 5? How many Units are planned in this Building

Tidy, Tasteful, Solid.

welcoming, clean, proud

quiet, modern, affordable

homey, comfortable, rural

Integrated, spacious, welcoming

Ease. Simplistic. Comfortable.

Friendly. Welcoming. Home

community; country; nature

welcoming, warm, efficient

Charming, efficient, communal

homey modern open concept

warm, natural & welcoming

clean, quiet, natural

Unique, clean, character

classy, detailed, comfortable

Warm, Inviting, Neat

A mix of modern and historic: the latter to incorporate the decorative designs of the tops of the buildings on the two blocks on main street.
A reminder, however — the development has to appeal to all age groups and it might be worth considering the color at the “Haven” — different shades of the same color that reflect the users in the different buildings.

modern, comfortable, friendly

warm, inviting, comfortable

Friendliness (sadly lacking so often) Uncluttered- (openess) Country feeling

quiet country feel

Quaint, cozy, functional.