Ward 5 Candidates Respond to Downtown Development Questions

Each candidate seeking to represent Welland’s Ward 5 was given the opportunity to answer these eight questions. Here are their submissions:

Michael Petrachenko:

  1. Downtown strengths: Historical significance, Court House, Welland Recreational Canal, Welland Market Square, Merritt Park, Illuminaqua, redefined and refreshed streetscape (almost a complete street), renewed restaurant variety, Downtown CIP financial incentive, access to public transportation hub, plenty of parking on and off-street, efficient traffic flow
  2. Downtown weaknesses: Vacant buildings, one-way traffic, lack of nearby high-density population, poor public perception
  3. One-way traffic: Two-way traffic would allow more people along Main Street and with the added bonus of a full view of the Welland Court House, one of Niagara’s most prominent architectural structures. Ample parking on both sides of the road and ample road width for two way traffic exists. Change would require a strong partnership between downtown businesses, the Regional Municipality of Niagara and the City of Welland.
  4. Bike lanes: Having been instrumental in establishing and promoting bike lanes along East Main Street I feel that they are essential in moving residents and guests from the heavily used recreation trail to the downtown core in order to partake in the variety of establishments and to return home. Welland desperately needs an updated master bike plan in order to address the movement of its residents and guests. Having cycled through Ontario, Quebec and the USA I have witnessed how an efficient cycling infrastructure promotes a healthy lifestyle for people of all ages and abilities. I am currently a member of the Regional Niagara Bicycle Committee and its Policy Task Force, the Greater Niagara Circle Route, Bike Welland and Active Transportation Niagara.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Privately owned properties are the primary responsibility of the owner. The City may offer financial incentives through the Economic Development Program for Brownfield Recovery. An Economic Development Officer would be the point of contact for the owner of vacant commercial property in the City of Welland.
  6. Empty buildings: Provided taxes are paid and the buildings are not in disrepair there is little the City can do other than refer the owners to the Economic Development Officer, unless an opportunity for the City to purchase the property at a reasonable cost exists that would benefit the residents of Welland (for example the old KFC building on Division Street which will enhance the Market Square experience).
  7. Downtown parking: Yes, there is a benefit to free parking but with a set maximum time-limit to deter abuse of the privilege. There also needs to be more signage downtown to let people know that there is free parking at the Market Square.
  8. Other issues: Need for high-density residential units but not at the expense of historically significant buildings. Continue to support programs such as the Downtown CIP. Lead by example….. eat at the restaurants, visit the market, walk/bike downtown, leave my car at the market, walk to the canal, enjoy the beauty that is the canal and its surroundings and then promote the experiences to residents and guests alike.

Claudette Richard:

  1. Downtown strengths: I believe the historic buildings are a huge drawing card for uptown – our court house; fire hall; Ross building and old postal building. The handiwork on these structures is  amazing.  Over the years – upon walking the downtown with visitors …these buidings and our bridge / canal are the main locations of interest to them.  We do have character locations that are underutilized downtown.
  2. Downtown weaknesses: Run down properties and nothing to actually bring visitors down town, other than the bingo hall and paying bills at city hall.
  3. One-way traffic: One way traffic does not encourage people stopping.  Rather it is a throughway to get to where you want to go.  Before we begin two way traffic we must encourage tenants and visitors to this area.  We have a beautiful island that is underutilized.  Years ago there was a consultant that had an idea of  having a “Toronto Ward Island ”  scenerio on Merritt Island.  This idea was never formally followed up on.  Yes…a small trailer park;  with concession booths small rides and a beach area etc.  Downtown has never been the same once we lost our pool.  This did bring people and their money downtown.  We must encourage visitors downtown with an avenue for family fun.  The island is perfect and not really know.  Working in Niagara Fallls for many years ….  I was made  aware of the very large amount of  residents there that did not even know  Welland had an island such as ours. It is a real shame….
  4. Bike lanes: I am happy that we are beginning to have the bicycle lanes BUT they are sporadic and do not line up with our biking trails. We need to increase them in areas that gives riders access to our canal trails etc.  West and parts of East L:inclon need lanes.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Clean them up and offer incentives for landlords;  tax reductions for periods of time etc.  We need housing so these could provide that aspect.  Tenants need to buy things…so lets give them stores and restaurants to go to.
  6. Empty buildings: Our city really needs to get a back bone with these properties.  Some are a disgrace to the uptown.  We have by-laws that need to be adhered to.  Start fining and if necessary  take control of these properties.  Pro-active not re-active is the way to make change
  7. Downtown parking: I feel free parking at this point is not of any value.  What will happen is that we will spend more monitoring the workers in this area from parking in close proximity to their offices.  First things first…get downtown up and running as per my suggestions such as  #3 then look at ways to control the parking.
  8. Other issues: As a former member of the BIA and a former Manager in a business downtown ….I feel we as a city have to make it an easier process for opening up a business; Packages at city hall such as Niagara falls;  (don’t send possible owners upstairs then back downstairs etc as my experience) offer tax incentives and have our Mayor and Councillors encourage and visit these new businesses.   It is pretty sad when a Mayor just recently – during campaigning visited a business on Hellems Avenue and thought it had just opened up.  They have been opened for three years.  I also have a daughter that has a business in Welland that has seem a couple of  councillors – especially now durieng campaign time BUT has never heard from or had a visit from our current Mayor.  She was thankful for Malcolm Allens’ visit within a week of opening. My expereince with Niagara Falls City Hall was a very pleasant helpful one.  It is not the experience I and a few others have felt when attending at our own City hall.  Changes need to be made there – especially in Customer Service.

These questions were posed to all of the candidates in Ward 5. Rocky Letourneau and Mark Dzugan 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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