Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Citizen Say on the South Side

It was on the front page of the Expositor: "Public to get Say on the South Side". After the debacle of the destruction, sorry, the demolition of the South Side of Colborne Street, the new City Council has decided to include citizen input on what should happen with the stretch of land.

That tells me a few things, one is they learned their lesson. After the problem that led to the demolition, people felt they were shut out of the process and I thinkn a few people lost their political jobs because of it. I'm not sure people were all that fired up about the demolition. I do understand the knee-jerk reaction was 'tear it down since its nothing but an eyesore'. But as it started, people began to feel something was wrong. The second thing, there was no plan. I know former Mayor Hancock all but said that, but here's the proof.

So what should happen. Here's few thoughts I'm starting. The first thing is what shouldn't happen.

1) Don't leave it vacant. I notice some people talk about the great view and how nice it will be to sit along the top of the hill and take in the view. There are now benches produced along the way:

It might be nice, but vacant, or even parkland means no development, no housing, no income from property. I think there should be green space incorporated, but to leave it as a park might be a mistake.

I wonder if it should developed into more University and the Y, as was thought to be the plan. Possible, but again, I think its not the best use of land.

What needs to happen; I believe what the downtown needs is more people, more business and more places to go. For the latter people in the north end, and probably across the river say there's no reason to go downtown. You can understand, after all the retail is in the north. So we need to develop the downtown so that more people live downtown and there is more to do downtown. I know that's easier said then done, but that's where plans come from.

My own vision for the City is to develop a high tech industry for the Centre. I see the old Expositor Building as the hub of all this, in fact perhaps Queen Street can be the nexus for this growth industry. There might be some snorts of derision, but consider this, we live in the industry of electrons. Electrons don't require a specific geographical location. The industry of atoms, heavy industry need a specific location. So we can dream.

What is needed is people downtown. There needs to be that critical mass, a place to live, work, and play is vital. Make everything close so people need not have cars. Density is important and so housing should be in the mix.

Jobs are vital. As the University grows there needs to be something to keep the young people after they graduate, as well as give them something to do while in Unversity. As I look downtown, there not a lot of opportunities for students to find jobs while in the City. Entry level jobs are important and jobs that allow students to practice their education. The University is part of the economic engine for the downtown, it needs to keep going and be vital. At the same time there is need for diversity.

Let me think more about the south side. They want public consultation, this is important because if the public doesn't get into the consultation process, there are all sorts of consultant groups that will gladly take our money and come up with ideas that we can.

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