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.