Downtown BIA has it all wrong

As usual Keith Hull nailed it on Monday evening at the council meeting. It was in his comments on the downtown BIA’s presentation (whine fest) regarding the arena’s lack of use due to the opening of the new hockey arena on Hume and downtown business being down as a consequence. His views and comments were as follows:

Councillor Keith Hull believes this could lead to a larger discussion of the health and the future of the downtown

“Most people are concerned about the health of our downtowns,” he said.

However, Hull wondered if there was a direct connection between the user groups in the arena and the local shops.

“When you walk downtown on a Sunday when the building is actually full and you see a healthy percentage of the retail stores closed, it begs the question is there a direct correlation between who is using the arena and who is spending money downtown?” he said.

Here is what I say:
In terms of our downtown we need to move away from the 1960’s model of how it is set up. Namely in those days, with less traffi, you would do the following: Drive downtown, park in front of the bank do your banking, visit a few stores and pick up a few items that you need. Drop into the coffee shop catch up on the local gossip. Walk back up to your car and drive away. How many times have you driven downtown to do your banking? Done the old drive up Hurontario Street, not seen any parking spots, turned onto third street, driven down Pine, back along Second, back up Hurontario …………
I am sure many of you have traveled to Europe and seen what many cities and towns have done with a lot of their downtown core areas; namely closed off good chunks of the roads to traffic and made them pedestrian friendly boulevards. In North America because there is an abundance of space, the tendency has been to spread out and build shopping centers on the outskirts of town often at the expense of the old downtown core businesses. Our town has always tried to control this by letting its downtown business association drive the direction of business development in town as a whole, with stupid rules and regulations on what businesses can be located where and doing what. Case in point banks can only be located not where it convenient for you to park namely out in the west of towns commercial district. They can only be located downtown. Now if I am getting this straight, after building a brand new rink at great expense both emotionally and financially to town we are to only use this as an overflow facility.
The downtown BIAs social engineering is obviously not working too well, because they would not be making pointless presentations to town council due to a lack of traffic in the arena if everything was just peachy.

I realize that I have your attention, with this blog, for around 5 minutes which I have just used up so rather than do a Chadwickian marathon post, I will present some of my ideas on what I believe should be done with our downtown core in my next post. It’s quite radicle and will probably never happen but I will put it out there anyway.


8 thoughts on “Downtown BIA has it all wrong

  1. They had a year of service from the Central Park Steering Committee, followed by the year and a half since they voted to build this new rink. That’s 2 1/2 years….and NO ONE bothered to think of this in advance. (Insert adjective here______)

  2. I have to agree with Councillor Hull in that there is much more to be considered and discussed regarding the state of the downtown business environment. If it’s not the reduced activities at the Eddie Bush the BIA would be pointing their finger at something or somewhere else such as Wal Mart and other retailers in the western end, paid parking or other issues. When the Blue Mountain mall is re-designed and leased out another threat will emerge to challenge our downtown merchants and scheduling more activity at the Eddie Bush isn’t the answer. First, the issue of operating hours.needs to be addressed. Consumers go to shopping malls knowing that every store is open. In most small towns Collingwood included, it’s a crap shoot with some stores open 9 to 5, some 9 to 6, some at night and some on Sundays etc. Greater consistency in operating hours is a start and would create a stronger draw to the downtown core. It takes more than fancy Xmas decorations and ice sculptures. Also I have seen many businesses come and go over the years on Hurontario Street which in essence were not businesses at all. They were a hobby or a special interest of the owner(s) but would never in a place like Collingwood generate the needed revenue to succeed. Would-be entrepreneurs many of whom are coming from outside the area could benefit from an advisory or review panel to test and mentor their business concept to determine whether or not there is (1) a need for their business idea and (2) is it in fact viable for a town the size of ours. Like many of the other issues facing our community here’s no quick fix and it’s foolhardy to think that increased activities at the Eddie Bush is the answer.

    • Why do we go out to shop? How often do we shop? Who goes out to shop? When do we shop? Where do we shop? What are we shopping for? What are barrier to shopping? Let do a true marketing survey>>> not an internet one to many bias

      The answer is not Eddie Bush.

      If you want people downtown, encourage the “The Beer Store “to move to downtown

      I shop for: Grocery store, restaurant on occasionally, odd specialty food store

      I don’t shop for: Sporting goods, Furniture, Lawyers, financial services. I investigate before depart to these organizations.

      Better plan is to roll BIA, economic development, town marketing all into one department.

      It sound like BIA is talk for one or two shop. It’s just a waste of money

  3. You lost me me after first

    The only thing that flourishes with the downtown arena is the Tim Hortons..

    Our population base is transient at the best of times.
    I very rarely go downtown, it has nothing to do with streets etc, but everything to do with me being actually home when the stores are actually open.
    Maybe the BIA should look at the demographics of the town, and start to base their thoughts on what actually brings people to the downtown core.
    The people going to the arena have no interest in buying anything other than coffee to watch their kid play hockey, cause they’re rushing around doing a million other things when they are not watching hockey at Eddie Bush.

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