Ward 3 Candidates Respond to Downtown Development Questions

Each candidate seeking to represent Welland’s Ward 3 was given the opportunity to answer these eight questions. Here are their submissions:

Cathy Connor: 

  1. Downtown Strengths: The canal, its beautiful historical buildings, Merrit Park, merrit island, and the many trails for walking and biking along the canal.
  2. Downtown Weaknesses: Deterioration of our beautiful historical buildings, a bingo hall should not be located in our downtown core. We are also missing shops, cafes and small theatre.
  3. One-way traffic: I am aware of some of the concerns of the one way vs two way roads downtown and don’t believe the problems would be fixed with the change in road direction. It certainly would add extra costs to city to change lanes, lights and signage. Revitalizing that area is what is needed.
  4. Bike lanes: I am not opposed to the bike lanes or having more of them. I would hope for improvements to the marking of these lanes once the decision was made to add new ones.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Welland High School and the Guardian Bldg locations would be great areas to build adult condos with a possible community center attached. This would increase traffic ( in a good way) and build up our downtown business.
  6. Empty buildings: City Council should definitely be following up on absentee landlords. I am sure there is a process in place – if not it should be on the agenda for council to discuss.
  7. Downtown parking: Maybe adding more 15-30 min free parking areas close to city hall for those needing to pay a bill or drop off a library book. Free SAT/SUN parking would work as well as during holiday seasons.
  8. Other issues; Relocating the Bingo hall away from the downtown core would be a start. Theatre would be an asset. Free entertainment at amphitheatre ( we don’t need firepots all the time). During the summer music can be sponsored by local businesses and have a hat passed around for expenses such as cleanup, electrical costs and patrolling, very similar to Fonthill’s setup. You could even have a Harvest Festival of mixed talent sometime in Sept/Oct.

John Chiocchio:

The downtown core is the heartbeat of any community.. From this is where an identity, a brand a culture and a community grow and blossom ..And I remember as a child what a great place it was.. Movie theatres, shopping, restaurants and night clubs. They were wonderful times. I give lot of credit to business that have stuck there and one in particular of many Dietrich’s.. A family owned business and kudos to the newer ones .. Let’s start by marketing the CIP program.. It’s there ,but questions of how to get grants etc? Are still a big question mark. We need to aggressively put that plan in action, as well I would like to propose a $3,000 grant to every new business opening . A way for a business to cover expenses like telephone, computer, equipment, those small incidentals needed to start up. The strengths are landmark buildings , great access to all points of the city, A great traffic flow with hardly any traffic, so one way traffic works fine for me. Obviously weaknesses like vacant buildings, not enough shopping or stores that don’t attract people is a disadvantage but there is a trend where big box stores are on a decline and smaller specialty or niche stores are back on the rise . We have to try to develop a culture of the downtown core . Opening up the Merrit park stage to free concerts like they have in Fonthill in the summertime. People bring their lawn chairs, spend a few hours listening to all kinds of music. It brings the community together. I would propose a similar type evening once a week. I would also like to see a food truck night once a month between April to October . It Would be A Foodtastic series. Antique Market in the spring and fall, skating on the canal like they do on the Rideau, and I would to see an old movie theatre back downtown. It would be great to see a vintage theatre that can also be used for art shows etc .. We must find a way to attract an investor or a city funded type of Centre. As for bike lanes, I don’t see many bikes actually using the lanes , so I don’t think adding more would be beneficial. And the brown fields need work. This would be for a future development and investors who would want to make major investments in the city .. Finally, none of this is easy but determination a Passion for the city, and people wanting to work together, sharing ideas and a vision

Joe Sorrenti

  1. Downtown strengths: One of the biggest strengths of our Downtown is the Welland Canal. It is a beautiful waterway that is not being used to its fullest potential.
  2. Downtown weaknesses: The biggest weakness of our downtown is one-way traffic on Main Street.
  3. One-way traffic: While campaigning over the last month and speaking to small business in the downtown about one-way traffic most business owners agreed that two-way traffic would improve their business a great deal.  It is my understanding that one of the mayoral candidates has recently said that the region has given the City of Welland permission to change Main Street to a two way street and he does not understand why this has not happened. If this were true I would pursue this issue and have Main Street changed on the basis that permission has been given and why City Hall has become stagnant on this issue.
  4. Bike lanes: I believe the biggest concern with bike lanes in the City is the inconsistency of the lanes when changing from street to street. All of the downtown area (king street, division street) should have bike lanes.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: The best course of action to develop these lands is not to scare off would be investors. My father in-law purchased property in the downtown area (Mill Street) and when he decided to develop the land to make a 55 unit apartment building he was met with nothing but City Hall Red tape. There were so many issues from sidewalks to electricity with City Hall it delayed the project. I recently spoke to someone involved with a project in the downtown area while campaigning and that person told me “city hall is just giving them a hard time”.
  6. Vacant buildings: If these landlords are not paying taxes then the city is supposed to take the property and sell it. There is currently property on East Main Street that is being sold for this very reason.
  7. Downtown parking: Yes I believe that downtown parking should be free especially during the winter months. I read in a letter to the editor this past winter a woman was upset she could not park on Main Street because the plows pushed the snow into the parking spots. I have to agree this is an issue in the downtown area.
  8. Other issues: I believe that we need to have a plan that the City currently does not have.  City Council cannot address this issue alone they need to sit down with members of the community and local organizations and develop a plan together. Many cities in Ontario are faced with the same problem those who got together with the members of their community have found ways to improve there downtown. I think Welland needs a downtown plan that involves everyone.

Leilani Vanderveen:

  1. Downtown strengths: The strengths of Welland’s downtown is a  a solid base of banks , businesses, and a road that is a through way to the other parts of the city.
  2. Downtown weaknesses: The weaknesses of our downtown is that we have very little pedestrian traffic as a lot of the store fronts are empty. There is no bustle as business owners at the present do not have a friendly and healthy climate to do business in. The HUB so to speak.
  3. One-way traffic: This has been a ongoing discussion for years and years. I have heard a lot of excuses of why we cant put it back to 2 way traffic. I have never heard anyone say leave it, It is  so good and great to try and cross East Main Street with 3 lanes of traffic speeding down the road. 2 way traffic would slow down the road and perhaps people would actually see  the things starting to happen downtown when they are not on the speed way trying to change lanes as they go. 2 way traffic would also make it more bike friendly and safer.
  4. Bike lanes: Safe bike lanes are very  important. People  that are riding bikes on the sidewalk and do not even yield to the pedestrian should be fined, and the bylaw amended to do just that. I do not have an exception with e-bikes, scooters and motorized wheel chairs being fined  either. They are on the sidewalks because the do not feel safe on the road. They now own the sidewalks of Welland and if you are walking you better move over for them because they are dangerous, because they don’t stop. King Street could use some bike lanes.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Welland High… townhouse complex for young people ,students, students with families. Atlas Steels-( Brownfield…)    Offer it to a Nursery/ Floral COMPANY? GROW SOME flowers and trees FOR RESALE. It would help the land heal a bit  and be another focus to come downtown. Niagara College could also have a Horticultural unit in Welland as well as Niagara on the Lake. Perhaps food can be grown in Niagara on the Lake  and  a portion of the Nursery Floral Garden business  ( non edible plants)   could be given space for education for non edible planting. Let’s go downtown and get our Christmas tree! Guardian Express Building. Main Street Park- A green space for all. Home of the Welland Club Mural The unsightly wall beside the existing Mural   ( The Welland Club) could be a place for a fresh MURAL of the Bridge we all love. A green space with 3-5 small round concrete tables and 3  half moon styled benches each. A small tree planted for shade, lit for evening, a lamp stand perhaps with plugs, for a green space to play checkers have lunch, read a book, or even sit for a minute. A few benches for sitting could outline this space.The benches should face the sidewalks on Hellems Avenue and East Main Street. The green space should have a concrete floor and a drinking fountain. And you can even see the transit buses! As there is not a lot of seating  at the bus stop this might be nice. This is a easy and fast fix, and does not have to take years and years of planning. I am ready for the John Deere Space also with a wonderful idea to move us forward. John Deere site…. A truck stop! A truck stop with warehouses, a restaurant,  a public shower room , a laundry,a garage with mechanics and a small motel . Loaded with WiFi , telephones, and a computer space. Open 24/7 Employees: Many needed. There is no warehousing or truck stop here in the HWY 3 area coming off and going to the Peace Bridge. A lot of the truckers would need space to park overnight ( instead of the Walmart parking lot.) The amenities are the key to success. We are in a free trade / maquiladora zone… lets utilize it to our advantage! Deere John Truck Stop, a pun indeed! Please Note: When there is a healthy and vibrant business climate ,the whole community becomes healthy and vibrant.

These questions were posed to all of the candidates in Ward 3. Dominic Szuch, John Mastroianni, Lisa Bastien, John Ravenda, Diane Sauder, and Rick Goupil did not respond.

The Posts:
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



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