My last few posts on the status and future of our downtown has generated lots of views and some very constructive comment. I want to answer the following comment made by Bill yesterday directly because he brings up some important points.
Bill on February 19, 2014 at 3:46 pm said:
I’m confused. There are a lot of great ideas here, but most of this has absolutely nothing to do with Council. For example, I assume there is no Mexican restaurant or brew pub in the downtown core because nobody wants to open one. What has that got to do with council? Is there any evidence that Council has suppressed efforts by individuals to open such establishments? I may as well say ‘lets have a bank that distributes free gold bars!’ I’m not sure our Council is as all-powerful as everyone seems to think.
Bill I’m not sure why you think that the state of, and the future of downtown Collingwood has nothing to do with town council. For a start this town council and past town councils have let the agenda be driven and controlled by the Downtown BIA. They always seem to have the last say on which businesses get to do what where and when, not just downtown but everywhere in Collingwood. As I said before, this is obviously a failed agenda. I have witnessed over the years that this group seems to fear any kind change and is fiercely protective of it’s turf, very much at the expense of every other citizen in Collingwood. It’s never been what location is most convenient for the actual customers using these (banks) businesses. Its been how does that affect Downtown BIA. I also see very little innovative thinking from most council members in how anything gets done including any long term thinking.
You also say that “There is no Mexican restaurant or brew pub in the downtown core because nobody wants to open one”. How do you think Blue Mountain Village got started? Intrawest originally pinpointed certain types of businesses and approached them to see if they would be interested in locating a business in the village. But first you have to create a space that would attract those businesses. Who would want to locate in our downtown now? Not many businesses I say. But with a nice open pedestrian boulevard with lots of public spaces for (God Forbid) patios, street musicians and entertainers free WIFI and as someone else suggested a few festivals throughout the year. You would create an environment where certain types of businesses would be fighting for a piece of the action. None of this would be easy of course it would require the landlords of the properties to be on board and it would require someone to actually be employed by the town as a Business Development Manager who reports directly to council. Not as what happens now the Downtown BIA, which is actually a conflict of interest. In this scenario Downtown BIA brings there concerns and agenda to the BDM who is a buffer from town council and can judge things on what is best for the town as a whole not just a select group of businesses.