Each candidate seeking to represent Welland’s Ward 2 was given the opportunity to answer these eight questions. Here are their submissions:
- Downtown strengths: Small area, shops are all in walking distance, clean, free parking on main street.
- Downtown weaknesses: One way traffic, Not enough free parking, vacant buildings and brown lands.
- One-way traffic: Not in favour of one way traffic. Traffic flow would not be an issue. we are not a metropolis. It would take some doing because we do have the extra bridge to factor in. I would follow the proper channels to have the traffic flow reversed back to two way traffic. Must also look at the price tag for doing so.
- Bike lanes: Bike lanes are important. Safety is at the top of my list. I feel we have enough in place
but should revisit periodically. Keeps most bikers off sidewalks and roads.
- Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Funds are always an issue. We need to apply for grants, tax breaks for business to come in and build.
- Empty buildings: We must have laws to deal with these issues. Make people responsible.
- Downtown parking: More free parking for people shopping.
- Other issues: Vacant store fronts and vacant lands are a major concern. We need to work together as a council along with city planners and government agency’s and attract people to the downtown core.
- Downtown strengths: The waterway and Merritt Island, I believe these two areas are big strengths to our downtown for people coming to Welland to visit. Water tends to draw a crowd where ever you may be in the world. Having this definitely is an asset to our downtown core as it brings people closer to our small businesses downtown. Welland needs to find a way to capitalize more on the waterway with more events or daily activity to drive more traffic through our downtown.I would like to add an in between answer to 1 and 2. Our murals right now can be seen as a strength and a weakness! When new, our murals offered art and culture not only to downtown but in other areas as well. It was a beautiful way to dress up the city and offer something that no other municipality in the area has, to the scale Welland did. Only now these beautiful works of art are beginning to fade and fall apart. Rather then remove them or let them sit in such disrepair we should look for ways to raise money to fix them to there former glory! Welland does not have it in the budget to invest in these murals, but that does not mean they should wash there hands of them like they have, Welland should be finding a way to help building owners find the funds through grants from other levels of government or through hosting fund raising events.
- Downtown weaknesses: The buildings in need of repair! Welland has done a great job cleaning up downtown, however they need to find a way to force building owners to clean up some of the buildings that are ‘eye sores’ to our downtown area. Having vacant or building in need of repair are not very inviting to get people out of their cars to take a stroll down Main St.
- One-way traffic: Downtown needs to be two way traffic! It allows people to travel in different directions and eliminates confusion when navigating through the city. I would accomplish this by pushing forward the issue and pointing out that in the early part of the 2000’s the council then approved the go ahead to make downtown two way traffic. It is ALREADY approved! We just need to move forward and do it!
- Bike lanes: I think the bike lanes are a benefit, however I do not believe the way the painted the roadways is beneficial at all! There is way too much zig zagging down Main St. I think it would be beneficial to explore putting more bike lanes in high traffic areas all over the city. Maybe more so around the college.
- Undeveloped lands and brownfields: We need to be more open minded with ideas brought forth by private development and not be so fast to turn them down. Instead of saying no, we need to work with developers to get things built. Welland High could use more residential, Guardian Express could be a commercial building with apts above and there are a few possibilities for Atlas! We need to offer incentives for developers to build here on our brown fields!
- Empty buildings: As I stated earlier, this is one of our weaknesses. Owners need to be contacted and told to upkeep their properties. We need to create a bylaw giving Welland more power to address these people. Possibly fines, forced repair then put on their tax bill to eventually if they still do not comply then the city could repossess the lands in question in a worse case scenario. How ever the city can not impose penalties for properties if their own vacant properties are not being kept up.
- Downtown parking: Free timed parking is a great benefit as it will allow people to make that quick stop at a local business because they don’t need to worry if they have change for the meter. I know personally I don’t stop most of the time because I may only have plastic and no change for the meter. I think there is plenty of space for parking downtown, there is not much except to leave parking free but timed.
- Other issues: I think the main issues were covered. The main thing is development and working with developers to move forward with projects and offer incentives for them to do so. We need to stop putting up road blocks and move forward with development and not sit still hoping someone will build. We need to find developers and entice them to build here! As a member of council I would be a big advocate for moving forward and working with developers.
- Downtown strengths: It is fairly compact, walk-able and has some historical charm.
- Downtown weaknesses: Not enough people living downtown, absence of a small grocery store which would help anchor a living downtown and walk for amenities lifestyle.
- One-way traffic: I have not heard of the possible benefits of two-way traffic. I know some have trumpeted that it has helped St. Catharinesand parts of Hamilton. However, our one-way section is four blocks. I fail to see how two way traffic will generate an economic benefit, but I am willing to weigh the facts to the contrary.
- Bike lanes: Bike lanes are critical as we move towards a bike friendly community which links to public transportation and the Niagara Circle Route trail system. In my view, bike lanes should be concentrated on routes that provide interconnections first.
- Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Continue to market as opportunity lands. Provide some vision around what the lands could support and what the existing and future business landscape could look like.
- Vacant buildings: Absentee landlords are held to property standards through planning department. Available space for lease or purchase can be submitted to the development office for inclusion on the city’s website.
- Downtown parking: The market square is full of free parking opportunities. On street parking may need to be adjusted to allow for free 2hr, 1hr or 10 minute parking depending on the service need the parking spot is intended to provide (ie in front of a take-out pizza place may be 10 minutes, whereas in front of a restaurant may be 2hrs). In my view the intent of paid street parking is to assign a value to a parking spot so that merchants have places available for their customers. The downtown merchants and patrons need to identify what works best for them.
- Other issues: The downtown core needs a story, a brand and needs to be reconnected to our community. The success of market square, proves people are willing to travel downtown if you give them a reason. A mix of art, culture, well thought-out public spaces, combined with entrepreneurial zest, needs to be interwoven through-out the core. More planning, more public engagement and more marketing of the vision will help things come to fruition.
These questions were posed to all of the candidates in Ward 2. Wolfgang Guembel, Darcie Lewis, Richard Kay, Justin Turner, Gregory Furtney, Leo Van Vliet, and Diane Bourque-Zakraysek did not respond.
Wednesday 8 October: Regional Council Candidate Responses
Thursday 9 October: Ward 1 Candidate Responses
Friday 10 October: Ward 2 Candidate Responses
Saturday 11 October: Ward 3 Candidate Responses
Sunday 12 October: Ward 4 Candidate Responses
Monday 13 October: Ward 5 Candidate Responses
Tuesday 14 October: Ward 6 Candidate Responses
Wednesday 15 October: Mayoral Candidate Responses