Required Reading for Southwest Ontario’s Mayors & Councils

Adam Radwanski’s article in today’s Globe & Mail, Rust Belt Revival: Lessons for Southwest Ontario from America’s Industrial Heartland, is an important piece of reporting that should be required reading for all of Southwest Ontario’s mayors, councils, and entrepreneurs. The American Rust Belt is experiencing a dramatic shift in attitude and, in many ways, its fortunes. Radwanski spent some time travelling through America’s Rust Belt cities and reflecting on the lessons Ontario’s former industrial towns might learn from their American neighbours. His findings reflect a lot of the issues we’ve been discussing here in Welland. In his travels, Radwanski talks to some of Ohio’s most important voices on the Rust Belt revival, including Richey Piiparinen of Cleveland State University’s Center for Population Dynamics and David Giffels of the University of Akron. Giffels, who wrote The Hard Way on Purpose, was one of the inspirations behind TheHardWay Gallery & Community Commons, our own little endeavour into Rust Belt revivalism here in Welland.

For more on Rust Belt issues, have a look at geographer Jim Russell‘s work at New Geography and the Pacific Standard. The good people at Belt Magazine are also putting out some pretty great stuff. I also like Morgen Peers‘ work on neighbourhood regeneration in Scarborough. Do you have any other suggestions? Please send them this way! There are some inspiring developments occurring south of the border. We have a great deal to learn.

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Carl Dair, 1912-1967

“Space is meaningless unless something happens in it.”  –Carl Dair

CarlDair

Carl Dair was a graphic designer and author whose classic book, Design With Type, discusses type as a design material and means of communication. It was the first Canadian work to be awarded “Book of the Year” honours by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. In 1967, Dair was commissioned by the Governor-General of Canada to create a distinctly Canadian typeface for the country’s centennial. The result, Cartier typeface, was the first text type designed in Canada. The most prominent use of Cartier font can be found in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Born in Welland, Carl Dair spent his formative years in the Rose City attending Central Public School and Welland High. At the age of ten, he became a delivery boy for the Welland-Port Colborne Evening Tribune, where he worked for Louis Blake Duff. Dair would go on to work in printing establishments across Canada and the world, but his early years in Welland were important ones, as indicated in the dedication of Design With Type:

To the memory of Louis Blake Duff, a bibliophile of great knowledge and fine taste who nurtured my interest in typography at an early age and never turned his head away from me except when I was swiping type from the hell box of his printing office in Welland, Ontario.

The work of Carl Dair, one of Canada’s most celebrated designers, has had considerable influence on subsequent typographers and designers. Douglas Lochhead, Senior Fellow of Massey College at the University of Toronto from 1963-1975, composed Dair’s obituary in 1967. It can be found here.

Further reading on Carl Dair can be found below…

Dair was honoured in the Devil’s Artisan Rogues’ Gallery of the Canadian Book and Printing Arts:
http://devilsartisan.porcupinesquill.ca/rogues_gallery_dair.html

Canadian Encyclopedia Entry of Carl Dair:
http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/en/article/carl-dair/

A Memoir of Carl Dair by Laurie Lewis:
http://utpblog.utpress.utoronto.ca/2013/03/05/a-memoir-of-carl-dair/

Command Type: The Typographic Quest of Carl Dair: https://www.gdc.net/article/2013/04/10/command-type-the-typographic-quest-of-carl-dair-fgdc

The Carl Dair Typography Workshops in Winnipeg: http://karenia.ca/2014/10/19/the-carl-dair-typography-workshops-in-winnipeg/

Cartier Typeface

CartierFont

Overview of the 2014 Municipal Election Candidates in Welland

WellandWardMap

Over the last week, I’ve been posting responses from municipal candidates to these eight open-ended questions regarding Welland’s downtown. You will notice there is an interesting variety of strategies for improving Welland’s downtown. There are also some common themes. Here are the links to each post:

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

Additionally, the Welland Tribune has run profiles of the candidates. Here they are:

Regional Council
Wards 1 & 2
Ward 3
Ward 4
Ward 5
Ward 6
Mayor: Frank Campion
Mayor: Barry Sharpe

Mayoral Candidates Respond to Downtown Development Questions

Each of the three candidates for mayor was given the opportunity to answer these eight questions. Here are their submissions:

Frank Campion:

  1. Downtown strengths: The key strengths of downtown Welland are some unique and historic architecture, the market square, the recreational waterway, unique niche businesses, a developing “entertainment” section and easy access.
  2. Downtown weaknesses: One way traffic, unkept empty buildings, litter, high commercial taxes, low residential occupancy and lack of a commercial/retail anchor.
  3. One-way traffic: Since I was chair of the downtown BIA back in the early 1980’s I have supported two way traffic in the core. It would slow traffic down which would encourage patronage of businesses in the area. Currently it is like a highway with a few stop lights. Two way traffic would also enable angle parking in both directions which would increase the amount of on street parking. In order to achieve this political will is crucial. The Region needs to understand that where there is a will there is a way. Thus far they take the easy route and put up roadblocks to the concept.
  4. Bike lanes: Bike lanes are a good thing but they need to be incorporated into the design instead of just painted onto a road. In the core where there is heavy traffic, on street parking and pedestrian traffic there is a need for a separated, designated bike lane. There should be a physical barrier separating the lane where possible. It is late in the game but the possibility of having the lanes isolated on the sidewalk area should be looked at in the future.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Our new CIP provides funds, zoning benefits and other incentives that encourage development of these types of properties. The Atlas site is the most problematic as the other two are essentially in fill developments that require a developer with vision and money. Atlas is a bigger problem. It would be ideal for residential development with retail on the ground floor, for student housing or for a satellite college or university campus. Remediation is needed and, with our CIP and Brownfield programs it could be attractive to the right developer. Council need to promote these properties and the programs attached to them. We also need to ensure that the developers are well funded and serious. Far too often developers are more interested in flipping the land than developing it.
  6. Empty buildings: These properties need to catalogued, landlords contacted and property standards by laws enforced. Owners should be offered the option to have their storefronts used for display purposes. Local real estate companies should be engaged and fully informed of all programs available so they can package the properties with the incentive programs which would substantially increase the attractiveness to a potential buyer.
  7. Downtown parking: Yes there is benefit to time limited free parking downtown. Enforcement is still needed. As chair of the BIA on the 80’s I actually convinced the city to allow free parking downtown. However, the city would not enforce a time limit and the free parking was abused by people who worked downtown. The parking was to be for customers only. As mentioned earlier, I also think angle parking would benefit the core.
  8. Other issues: I would like to see a waterfront component in the downtown, possible behind city hall. A wharf like development, by the private sector on a long term lease arrangement, could provide waterfront shops, cafes etc. This would link to the traditional core area as well.

Barry Sharpe

  1. Downtown Strengths & Weaknesses
  2. See the CIP for Qs 1 and 2
    http://www.welland.ca/Development/DowntownCIP/DowntownHWCIP-Report.pdf
  3. One-way traffic: I don’t think one-way traffic on East Main and Division is the problem.  The cross streets (King, Cross, Hellems) are 2-way and allow traffic to circulate well throughout the Historic Downtown.  Twenty years of talking about making these arterial roads 2-way is a key reason the Region has delayed resurfacing Division Street.  I know that because I twisted arms at Regional Public Works this year and couldn’t get them to put it in this budget.  Welland needs to make a final decision and then (hopefully in 2015) get the Region to resurface Division – and then East Main from the tracks to Hellems.  And then we need to get West Main resurfaced.
  4. Bike lanes: Division Street as a one-way east to Burgar (current configuration) is wide enough for bike lanes and on-street parking.  That should be part of the resurfacing plan – and the Region has a policy to pay for bike lanes.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: The Welland High property is too pricey for the City to get involved.  It has tremendous potential and several proposals have been brought to Council for residential development in the past.  It will eventually happen.  I would encourage Council to consider acquiring the triangular parcel at East Main and Hellems.  It has super potential to be a parkette/public art space.  The Atlas South Plant brownfield site on East Main interests me.  The kids tell me it would be a great site for a new skate park.  Alternatively, the City could partner with the owner to market this as serviced industrial land.  It can’t be allowed to continue to be the eyesore that it is.
  6. Empty buildings: Welland has a huge surplus of commercial space.  The Downtown CIPs provide serious financial incentives to convert commercial space to residential.  Marketing that needs to be a high priority for the next Council and our City Hall staff.  We’re already seeing market-driven reno projects like the Welland Galleria, 47 East Main, and Dr. Hegedus’ Office on West Main – renovated residential out of former commercial space.  The CIP incentives will help keep that momentum going.  The goal of more people living downtown – including in particular, more college students -needs to be pursued.  The Welland Club Condominiums is a very cool project and has the potential to be a success.
  7. Downtown parking: We are fortunate to be able to offer free parking at the Market Square.  I support free, time-limited (1-hour and 2-hour)on-street in the Downtown.  I have a motion coming to Council for a pilot project to do that until the end of the year.
  8. Other issues: I continue to work with NRPS to encourage them to use bike officers in Downtown Welland.  I’d support the LED lighting project for the Main Street Bridge – if the Region will pay 50%, the BIA will buy in, and if we can get the electrical infrastructure in place at a reasonable cost.  We should light it!  It’s a heritage structure and a Welland icon.  What scope and scale and at what cost is the question.

John Watt:

  1. Downtown strengths: You can’t talk about Welland’s downtown as having any kind of strength, unless you like a lot of Italian marble, or admire a $12,000 cappuccino machine. Even the laser-etched plaquettes that celebrate those financial charettes, have become just plaque deposits, breaking pieces sticking to eroding stone sub-straights. Wait! Wait! I hear the groan of old stones, very old stones, deep, deep groans. Yes, yes, come to me, underground waters, like the merman you want me to be, you stones of the old downtown swimming pool. You had a lock on adult swimming, with the fifteen foot deep end and six foot shallow end, diving off the boards and one side wall, and all those stairs for people to lay on their towels, with the bigger childrens pool with a three foot deep end, and the big fountain pad, with the picnic parkland, that’s a for sure. Oh! Oh! I like it when I type about the buried downtown swimming pool. The buried Chippawa Park swimming pool joins this river of dis-content and sends a few nice waves from one of my old neighbourhoods.
  2. Downtown weaknesses:
  3. One-way traffic: You have to know that Welland’s downtown was an artificial design to create a mid-peninsula address for the federal and provincial court houses and other government services, beside the new canal. They evolved as the city grew. When the Seaway Mall was built, it was decided downtown Welland needed one-way traffic to get more shoppers to stop. Main Street, with the green lights configured as a maximum speed rush through the downtown, immediately became a race track. The new city hall was also supposed to bring in business to the downtown core. One of the oldest and biggest banks in Welland, right beside it, closed last year. Nuff said.
  4. Bike lanes: Welland was the last city in the peninsula to complete, almost, our section of the recreational path. If you saw the pipes and other obstacles you can’t see in dark shade in the dark, you’d think it was booby-trapped. It is booby-grabbed, and even the police can’t grab that grabber. When about twelve inches of tar that was laid over drainage pipes sticking out over the canal, sagged a little, city hall ordered a repair. It became a $750,000 landscaping leading up to real estate owned by I’m not sure. When I see the bike lanes, and how the parking parkouts make riders move over into traffice, it confirms my theory as to why city hall can be so hot about bike lanes downtown, when the son who does the city’s bike site hasn’t posted for over ten months. The city is using bikers to slow traffic, willing to sacrifice them for the new off-city mega-malls, just as they sacrificed poor people to road traffic going to Walmart, no sidewalks. I have to honour John of John’s Fries, from Port Colborne, a sign-painting customer who had five fries wagons, and lived at the old alligator farm. He died when his motorcycle swerved on dark, graded stone levels left by a grader, at the end of Main Street when construction did not have a sign. I rode my bicycle through that earlier, not seeing dark stone ridges, and got stuck, almost falling over myself.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Atlas Steel. At Main Street, the Atlas Steel is four stories of buried levels of storage and drainage for fluids and liquid pools of smelting and grinding coolants, that have become since before World War One, like underground caves and underwater reefs. Locking someone underground with a small flashlight could be an incredible tourist attraction. Just when the seeker finds a chamber with a bare light bulb, the top opens and a bucket descends, splashing as it scoops up warm coolant, popping the light bulb, and as the small car sized bucket disappears overhead, the lid closes and shuts you in total darkness. That’s always a thrill. Talking about the Atlas Steal still gets me ill. Yeah, the Guardian Express property, a newspaper started by striking Evening Tribune employees, not wanting to publish the crimes they were being told to promote. As you can see, this former upscale bank building, right on the corner across from the bus station and donut shop, with one of the biggest murals, occupying the space it was in completely, was demolished, even if workers had a hard time taking it down. Yeah, the downtown business association knows their real estate. They really know how to stick together and stick it to you. The old lady that never painted a mural before who got to paint the smallest one beside the Guardian Express, got sick from the jet plane paint right away and didn’t even half finish. It was left that way. Welland High School: I went there for grade nine. It’s part of my municipal arson for profit evidence package. There are a few of them floating around the rarified offices of downtown Welland, like floating burnt embers of flamed font. If the canal and river became navigable together, the Welland High property and the one across the river would make good docking and landing sites with parking as a downtown destination. The walkway under the highway bridge is large enough to be a commercial walkway, allowing access to parkland and more riverbanks on the other side of the highway. Residents who see large backyards swamped in the spring might sell for helpful prices, an easy increase in parkland.
  6. Empty buildings: It must be nice, sitting on property, when you don’t pay taxes. There’s a list of rich people and criminals who don’t have to pay property taxes in Welland, 15% of all taxes. They’re waiting for the unreal estate bubble to burst all over going down going down Welland, so everyone gets a little sticky stuck on their head, that says don’t forget to sell to Americans, or Chinese, or whoever wants to bring their own people in, it doesn’t matter, we’ll get them and their children. But as a mayoral candidate, should I care about absentee landlords when absentee tenants get more absentee votes?
  7. Downtown parking: Parking needs to be restored to downtown. Special little signs of drab and sad, lonely funeral colours, in three-dimensional laser-etched Chinese luxury polypropolene vinyl plastic, maybe with a corner bent over like it’s hurt, should be semi-adhered to rims of already parking cars, so when they start falling off and blowing around driveways like dead leaves the driver might be reminded to rake them up and park for some more again. I’m picking up clear plastic tubes with blood residue and used needles for free in downtown parking, with a choice of leftover bags of blackened and tarry bowls with spoons, candles, and surly and staring youts as waiters waiting for their next job.
  8. Other issues: The best thing for downtown Welland: Develop Merritt Island and the canal as the federal, provincial and muncipal waterway parkland it’s supposed to be, not the privatized and no swimming or boating canal it has become. Stop raw sewage releases into the river downtown, Welland having the highest rates in Ontario. Get rid of the false idol in Merritt Park. Use the old Canada Manpower building on King Street, around from the post office, and bring back manpower to Welland. Use the old fire hall to get Welland residents for fire fighters. Unbury that pool, and set my art free. It took a lot of torrential downers to make downtown downs so down, washing away waves of cash as getting washed away forever, not floating past with side current-sees for sinking local business people. “Where Rails and Water Meet” could easily become “Where Trails and Water Meet”. All those deep and wide, rail line stone beds, like spokes from Welland radiating around the peninsula, could become trails for alternative vehicles. Maybe you too could be chased by a light along the lake in Port Colborne, or meet Sir Huff’n’Puff, the slowest rider on and off wheels, or Sandy Feate, a bicyclist who has a hard time keeping his shoes on and his feet out of the sand. WELLAND ELECTION CAUTIONAIRE: Please be aware of this in-the-dark election cautionaire. If you see someone pounding in signs in the dark so the public can’t see criminals working for politicians, don’t approach them expecting political discussion, because they’ll pound their points home in you.

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

 

Ward 6 Candidates Respond to Downtown Development Questions

Each candidate seeking to represent Welland’s Ward 6 was given the opportunity to answer these eight questions. Here are their submissions:

Mike Konderka:

I’ve received several surveys from groups advocating for various issues, and it’s great to see people getting involved with the current elections. I am sympathetic to many causes that have been raised, but in several cases I’ve been asked to commit to specific strategies that I can’t fully support. My promise to the constituents of Ward 6 is, if elected, I will listen to all sides of any issue raised and work to build consensus on strategies that are Good for Welland. I will not agree to take a position on an issue for the sole purpose of attaining an endorsement.

Steven Soos:

  1. Downtown Strengths: One big strength of Welland’s downtown core is the small business owners, who have been in operation for several years. For example, Cheers, Volcanoes and Mario’s Pizza have become successful venues in downtown, and continue to do business despite the struggles that they face against corporate chains, large companies etc.  Their passion in regards to keeping up their business is admiring, and they have not given up, even though we have seen a re- concentration of business to the North End, despite a global recession/ food financial crisis, and many other tremendous factors.  They speak to the attitude of Wellanders, to never give up despite the hardships.  Another great thing about Welland’s downtown is the Welland Heritage Council and Employment Solutions centre.  Where new Canadians are given the supports they need to thrive in a new community, and where young people and others out of the job market are given hope and opportunity through Employment Solutions.  Another strength that I see in the downtown is the John Howard Society, where people can go to upgrade their skills, and seek support in the areas of education, work and training.  All these venues that I have named above give our downtown hope.
  2. Downtown weaknesses: It is without a doubt that the downtown has some weaknesses however. The bus terminal is one of those weaknesses. I believe that the bus terminal is far too small, especially in consideration to the rate that Welland is expanding, and with the need for transit growing, (because of fuel prices/need to respect the environment etc).  We should focus our efforts on expanding the terminal, and ensuring that public transit has a terminal, so it can grow as well.  Another weakness I see in Welland is the infrastructure.  There are some very old buildings, (some being city assets) that need to be fixed, especially if people are living in them.  These buildings need to be renovated, so that they can keep up with all the other improvements taking place in the downtown core.  The one way streets are also a problem, and we need to re-focus our efforts on improving traffic in the core, so that people are able to park/ visit venues with more ease.
  3. One-way traffic: As I said in #2, we need to begin the process on improving traffic in the downtown core, including the elimination of some one- way streets. I would go about this by changing Division Street and the other half of East Main Street into 2- ways, so that traffic to city hall and the court house can be improved.  People often times feel “packed like sardines” in the core when trying to pay a ticket at the court house, or paying bills at City Hall.  Often times the two lane/ one way on East Main can be very busy, and people trying to merge onto the road (after parking to the side) cannot merge.  We need to ensure that two way streets are implemented on the two way roads I mentioned, so that our drivers can have more ease.  We also need to make more use out of that corner on Division Street (By Cheers and the John Howard Society).  That corner could be a 2- way street, but instead we are not making use of it at all.  I would also propose that Burger Street and Bridge #13 become 2- way streets, so that traffic coming into downtown can also flow more freely.
  4. Bike lanes: In terms of the bike lanes, I feel that we need to preserve the ones that have already been built, but also build a few more on Division. Bike lanes are an accessibility issue.  It would not be in fairness if we improved roads for drivers, but left out the bikers (people who may not have access to a vehicle.)  Also preserving and slightly increasing the bike lanes are good for the environment.  They encourage recreation and exercise in our city, and I think that we should look at that as a benefit.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: In terms of the undeveloped land in the downtown core, the simple answer is that it needs to be used. The city should be assisting in the development on unused land so that we can build businesses on the land.  The land could also be used as social housing units for those without adequate housing. The reality is that there is a more than 5 year waitlist for social housing through the region, and the city should be assisting in finding ways to reduce that wait.  The fact is most people who need that adequate housing cannot wait for that long.  Housing would also build community.  Once the land is surveyed and deemed safe, we could get on this project.  In Welland, we have our Hope House (a shelter) and the Heritage Council shelter, these shelters speak to our social nature.  We should make the Downtown Core more social, and insure our community that if they are in need, they can access services in the downtown (in regards to housing) for refuge.
  6. Empty buildings: This is a very difficult situation. If the property is owned privately, then it could be very well out of our power.  However, open lines of communication is important to discussing with these landlords possibilities for development.  If they are willing to work in collaboration with the city to develop their vacant properties, than this would be a bonus for the city, and them.  They should be encouraged to make their sale information available, and in the event they do not want to continue up keep (or lack thereof), than the city should offer them low ball prices, so that we can use them for those social aspects outlined above.  There is a lot of room for potential when thinking about these vacant buildings.
  7. Downtown parking: Downtown parking should be free without a doubt. It should continue to be free, considering that the city already collects quite a bit of revenue through the library and the courthouse.  Free parking encourages people to continue to visit the downtown, (because nobody likes a ticket when they are out for leisure), and City Hall has already become quite the “meter warriors” in terms of ticketing people who do not pay their tickets at the court house.  The city should be considering putting in more parking spaces, so that people are encouraged to visit downtown without the stress of finding a spot or getting a ticket.
  8. Other issues: I believe that the downtown core should be a space for heritage, respect for the individual and a social centre for Wellanders. The downtown has many improvements that need to be made so that we do not lose that heritage that Welland once had.  We should be encouraging small business to open up shop in the downtown, and giving businesses already established the supports that they need to stay downtown.  If our downtown improves, our local farmer’s market thrives, (local food procurements being a very important issue to me), our lines of communication between city hall and Wellanders also improves when we have a more diverse core.  It is a no brainer, to get the downtown working again.

Phil Wachel:

  1. Downtown strengths: Welland’s downtown has a library that is the envy of mid-sized cities in Canada. We should also be proud of our City Hall and Court House. The outdoor skating rink is a wonderful part of our downtown that my daughter uses on many occasions during the winter months. We have a thriving business community in our downtown, including a number of great restaurants to dine at.
  2. Downtown weaknesses: The biggest weakness of Welland’s downtown is the perception that some people hold of the downtown. Also, the downtown needs to be advertised better to other municipalities (for example: St. Catharines and Thorold).
  3. One-way traffic: A change from one-way traffic to two-way traffic would have a minimal impact at best. If it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it.
  4. Bike lanes: Bike lanes are important not just for the downtown, but for additional city streets. If elected, I would advocate for more bike lanes. Bike lanes give cyclists a safe place to bike, thus reducing cycling accidents. Welland residents should be able to cycle safely from their homes to the downtown, park their bicycles in the downtown, and enjoy what the downtown has to offer.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Brownfield Development is an expensive proposition, but not an impossible one. Here are a few examples of brownfield success stories in Ontario: http://cielap.org/brownfields/donewith.html. Turning one of these abovementioned properties into parkland might be the best option. The transformation of Brantford’s downtown is one to pay attention to. Brantford’s downtown has been revitalized with the addition of university and college campuses. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/property-report/students-bring-new-vitality-to-brantfords-core/article4229574/
  6. Empty buildings: A low cost idea would be to contact the landlords of these properties and see if they would be willing to allow Welland artists to paint displays on their windows.
  7. Downtown parking: The Court House Parking Lot should be a free parking lot.
  8. Other issues: The residents of downtown Welland don’t have a supermarket within walking distance. If there was a downtown supermarket, perhaps more college students would consider moving to the downtown.

These questions were posed to all of the candidates in Ward 6. Bob Wright, Jim Larouche, Bonnie Fokkens, and Raymond Rousseau 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

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

Ward 4 Candidates Respond to Downtown Development Questions

Each candidate seeking to represent Welland’s Ward 4 was given the opportunity to answer these eight questions. Four candidates are running. Only one responded. Here is her submission:

Maria Lallouet

Without a measurable, visible, incredible Center, any city is missing out a lot. Welland downtown has started to shape, but still has a long way to go. The strengths are: the new city hall, Merritt park and Merritt island, the last two being very unique to Welland. In my opinion what we need is more buildings being renovated, like the Galleria, combined with businesses and apartments. Hats off to the banks and businesses that are still operating from downtown. Some old buildings definitely in need to be demolished, they are too old and unsafe. We need to get more people living in downtown, their presence will take away the ghostly feeling. I like the one way traffic, especially on the two bridges, makes the travel more safe. In the future, hopefully, we will see more bikes or e-bikes. To make it safe to use downtown, a study is needed. Undeveloped lands, unused commercial building are a sore. Perhaps new city by-law regarding these lands and buildings is well overdue. If we want Welland downtown to be alive, we need to offer free parking. This summer while the bridge was closed, the two hour worked very well.

These questions were posed to all of the candidates in Ward 4. Pat Chiocchio, Anthony DiMarco, and Tom Bacolini 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

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

 

Ward 2 Candidates Respond to Downtown Development Questions

Each candidate seeking to represent Welland’s Ward 2 was given the opportunity to answer these eight questions. Here are their submissions:

Venanzio D’Addario:

  1. Downtown strengths: Small area, shops are all in walking distance, clean, free parking on main street.
  2. Downtown weaknesses: One way traffic, Not enough free parking, vacant buildings and brown lands.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Funds are always an issue. We need to apply for grants, tax breaks for business to come in and build.
  6. Empty buildings: We must have laws to deal with these issues. Make people responsible.
  7. Downtown parking: More free parking for people shopping.
  8. 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.

Anthony Dockrill:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

David McLeod:

  1. Downtown strengths: It is fairly compact, walk-able and has some historical charm.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

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

Ward 1 Candidates Respond to Downtown Development Questions

Each candidate seeking to represent Welland’s Ward 1 was given the opportunity to answer these eight questions. Here are their submissions:

Mark Carl:

  1. Downtown strengths: There has been an influx of small businesses and restaurants that have breathed some life back into the downtown. There is a solid core group of citizens that support the downtown and want to see it revitalized and this must continue. Marketing the downtown and continuing to offer Community Improvement Incentives (CIP) to the downtown investors to make improvements to their buildings. The green spaces throughout the downtown are an important component of beautification and attracting new businesses. Along with Arts and Culture in key areas will bring people downtown. .
  2. Downtown weaknesses: The downtown does not have the capacity or the physical space to support a large cluster residents, which help to attract innovators and investments.
  3. One-way traffic: St.Catharines recently made a change to their one way streets and so it would be valuable to consult with them as to the effect it had on bringing people into the downtown. I believe it would increase people coming to the down town core.
  4. Bike lanes: I think that we have enough bike lanes and on East Main Street, the widened bike lane can be distracting. We have great trails which also provide spaces for bikers to enjoy.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Research on the use of brownfield areas continues to be ongoing and is certainly valuable to consider. The key is finding a potential avenue that would be profitable to be sustainable and good for the environment.
  6. Vacant buildings: There is a need for council to continue to put the resources in place to enforce the Vacant building Bylaw and continue to provide a solution based strategy to deal with absentee landlords and ambiguous housing situations. In 2010 Welland City Council passed a vacant building bylaw that focuses the attention on the landlord to maintain their builds. The challenge is that it could take over a year to the courts to fully enforce the law. It has proven effect but requires enforcement resources. Also the Downtown Community Improvement Plan (CIP) worked on and passed by council offers excellent incentivises for owners to invest, improve and reutilize building for new uses.
  7. Downtown parking: Parking meters are an obstacle in attracting business and visitors to the downtown. Two hour parking is a must to attracting people downtown. However, bylaw must enforce the two hour parking limits to stop business workers from taking all the parking spot.
  8. Other issues: Niagara College Student housing would help bring students and investment to the Downtown. Residential condos along the waterfront would help bring people and investment to the downtown.

Mary Ann Grimaldi:

  1. Downtown strengths: I have lived all over the world and without a doubt our Welland Canal is our biggest asset, ultimate strength and focal point running right through our downtown core. In Europe a Canal is the focus and centre of their downtown. Especially the section between Main Street and Lincoln would be open to the public for pleasure cruising, public sporting, vendors to set up and kiosks along the shore lines. An endless amount of possibilities would be looked at and taken advantage of. The City was built around the Canal by many immigrants from all over the world that brought their ideas with them. Thus, the beautiful Tribute to all the workers who built the Welland Canal at Merritt Park is very warm and welcoming and so could our Canal. We have a beautiful WIFC for tournaments but that too could be utilized for more activities. The stage now operated by the WRCC at a loss could be taken back by the city for free entertainment. We have a superb Welland Market Facility with local products that needs to be marketed throughout Ontario as an outstanding facility. We have to stop selling ourselves short by limiting the use of our Canal and Assets built on it. We also need to be transparent in making those decisions so the people of Welland can participate and understand why we are doing things. The possibilities are endless.
  2. Downtown weaknesses: Parking is a definite problem. The two hour free parking on the downtown roads should continue all year. We now have a CIP for the downtown, with much public consultation but we need to work on fulfilling the CIP. We have done a number of public brainstorming session’s downtown that I can speak to from 2003 when I first was elected to Council and are ongoing but have we need to implement these ideas and move forward. We need to do this in co-operation with all the businesses, public and non-profits we have in Welland.
  3. One-way traffic: Two-way traffic has been discussed and looked into over and over.  Personally I’m not sure that traffic flow is a problem. I would leave the one way traffic as is. People have become accustomed to the traffic routes. Also to do a change to two way traffic would be expensive. I would need to be convinced that somehow two way traffic would be an asset in developing a vibrant downtown.
  4. Bike lanes: I feel that bikes lanes are good for our community. Riding a bike provides physical fitness, helps reduce stress and tension and is a healthy practice to be actively involved with. Plus the fact we cut down on emission gases from vehicles. The biggest issue is budgeting for all the different types of infrastructure rather than putting all our money into select projects. “Putting all our eggs into one basket” so to speak is not good planning and does not contribute to the overall growth of the city.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: This is a complicated issue as a number of them are privately owned.  The City has to work with the individual owners to have these vacant properties developed. There are both Federal and Provincial grants available to help these owners financially. The municipality can also promote freezing of property taxes at the current rate to help them get going. The City can also use this as infilling to existing established areas therefore holding off on development fees. We could use our internal resources when looking at attracting business and industry to prioritize these lands for development. I think everyone realizes that rebuilding the downtown and making it more vibrant would attract other businesses—it is a kind of success building on success.
  6. Vacant buildings: The City has to work with the Downtown Business Association to provide incentives to promote new business development. This can be achieved financially through grants and or interest free loans. Partnerships have to be developed to assist new business with advice and help so that they survive the beginning stages to become successful.
  7. Downtown parking: This has always been an issue with our merchants. The parking lot behind City Hall should be for the public also with two hour free parking. No city vehicles or special privilege parking allowed unless there are crucial operational needs. We could use the market square for most of staff parking.
  8. Other issues: Solutions as a council. First we need to be an informed Council and work together in order to provide leadership which I believe is a critical factor in revitalizing our downtown core. It doesn’t work if we just talk the talk. It’s time to walk the walk together with business in the downtown core. We need to take a collective and proactive approach. We need to be open, transparent and accountable in all our decisions. We need to be aware of businesses in trouble before they leave and reach out to help find solutions. We need to work together along with our Chamber of Commerce, WDBIA and our Economic Development Commission. We as a Council have to budget funds to promote our downtown. Businesses and industry in this community should see city hall as a partner not as an impediment.  We spend a lot of money on advertising that we are Champions so now it’s time to live up to it.

Margaret Moroz:

  1. Downtown strengths: Welland has a great downtown but businesses continue to fail because of constant construction. Hopefully this can stop for a while. We have beautiful walk ways and the open market. As I was growing up here we had many businesses.
  2. Downtown weaknesses: The problem with Welland Main Street is it goes to nowhere. Most people use the bi-pass and do not frequently use Main Street as a way to get to the 140. We have a great down town but few people stop here. The marketing of events and the Arts is a significant way of bringing people to the core to support local economy, but it is a struggle. Welland residents need to be offered more in the city to attract them to Main St. Car shows, soap box derbies, bike -a- thons, art shows or fairs, free concerts are all ways of growing the core.
  3. One-way traffic: One way traffic is a question for logistics and for city transportation to look at in terms of feasibility. We seem to be going in circles around town to get anywhere. Main St. has been made over and has lost many parking spaces to aesthetic sidewalks and curbs and meridians. Thye take up a lot of space. While beautifying the street, this has no real purpose in some instances.
  4. Bike lanes: Bike lanes are definitely purposeful and safe for pedestrians as well as bicyclists.
  5. Undeveloped lands & brownfields: Many brownfield lands are not being used. Why would the city allow a solar development on Ridge Road, an area of farm land and natural habitat for wildlife, and on top of an aquifer used by many as a primary source of clean drinking water for rural residents? This development could and should have been developed on a vacant industrial site.
  6. Vacant buildings: [incorporated into #5]
  7. Downtown parking: Limited free parking works because it allows spaces to be available to shoppers.
  8. Other issues; The youth of our city and artisans have some great ideas as well. No idea should be dismissed or not considered. With people talking and collaborating on this problem ,things can happen to “All Well and good”.

Doug Thomas:

  1. Downtown strengths: The court house and City Hall. Great restaurants and service businesses. Affordable Gyms. A downtown ambiance. We are the heart and soul of a new Welland, with good local restaurants and are becoming the entertainment heart of the City.
  2. Downtown weaknesses: We do not have weaknesses. We have strengths that need to be made stronger. We need even more street side ambiance with more patios for the summer, and a return of music to City Hall – like the Niagara Jazz Society put used to put on , or as someone told me today, a new model for Illuminaqua with free concerts paid for by sponsorship every Friday night.Dynamic partnership with Rose City Kids for a concert series in the Theatre, or movement of Cinefest downtown. An Art Studio, like “The Hard Way” but on a more permanent basis. As I am not particularly artistic, I can not make recommendations as to what it should be or have. Signage on the Canal Path letting Cyclotourists know what is available in the downtown. Seating at the Canal Terrace, as was in the bid documents, and dropped for some reason unknown to me.
  3. One-way traffic: Two way traffic has been held out as a panacea to downtown problems. I don’t see that switching to 2 way traffic would make a lot of difference. East Main is still the major artery to Niagara Street for people travelling across the City. The Division Street Bridge was designed for One Way Traffic. Turning left onto the East Main Bridge from Niagara Street would be problematic. Getting to the southbound lane of East Main at King Street would be problematic. Putting two way traffic down roads specifically designed for one way traffic would be a problem. Coordinating all of this with the Region would be a major bureaucratic job. I wish it was not so, but it is like putting toothpaste back in the tube – so much more difficult than getting it out.
    We should not be afraid to consider alternatives, like closing East Main for special events over the summer months – bands, car shows, special events etc.
  4. Bike lanes: We need to use the Canal Paths as a central solution, with bikes lanes on roads going from them. We need a bike map, and a plan for bikes to use certain roads. One cross city road on the East Side is Hagar Street. It is very wide, and could be a central city bike lane to the Canal. For the downtown, we need bike lanes that make people feel safe, so that they will get off the sidewalks. Just because I ride with the traffic, and have for 45 years does not mean that most people feel safe riding in traffic. They do not. There are no bikes lanes on any of the bridges across the canal. This is a concern, but the bridges are Regional Roads.
  5. Undeveloped lands 7 brownfields: I do not know. We worked hard to get the Guardian Express Building torn down, as it was a serious mould hazard. Cleaning up the Brownfields may be a very expensive proposition. The highest and best use may be parkland for the present. The issue is how to deal with heavy metal pollution of the soils.
    The Welmet lands which you did not identify, were given to Terrasan in 2008, and then the WRCC spent the remediation funds of about $3 million to clean up the lands. The lands are vacant, as Terrasan did not do the clean up, and now the lands will fall back into the city’s arms for arrears of taxes, and we will either let it sit until “heck” freezes over, or we will spend numerous millions of tax payers dollars to clean it up, because we blew the remediation funds on stuff like a survey to find out that there was no sponsorship funds for the Welland International Flatwater Centre.
  6. Vacant buildings: Did you know that the municipal taxes on one of these “abandoned” building could be $20,000.00 per year? One of the reasons that these buildings are empty is the rent that small businesses have to pay in order to rent them. I am in an office that was a small business owned Paul Richardson in the early 2000’s. He sold curios and all sorts of interesting things. He found it difficult to make ends meet, and the downtown beautification construction ended the dream for the businesses here at this time.
    We now have a core of viable service businesses and restaurants. We have only one or two retail businesses, and it would be nice to have more, but it is difficult for small shops to compete with the big box stores and the mall. Boutique or niche stores attracted to the number of captive shoppers (lawyers, court staff, city staff, accounting firms etc,) might be our best hope, but we need to attract stores that will sell items that people buy regularly, which is tough for boutique stores. It is not that hard to find out who owns the abandoned stores. It costs $18.00 or $19.00 for search of the title, and it can be done from most lawyers office for a fee or at the Registry office in St. Catharines for free.
  7. Downtown parking: The benefit is that people who are drawn to a mall for free parking will come downtown for free parking. The problem is that the free parking spots will be taken up people attending court, by City staff and employees of the businesses if there is no enforcement of a time limit, which costs money, that paid parking would pay for.
    The question is how much free parking will cost if it is limited to 1 or 2 hours, and who will pay for the costs of enforcement. A middle point may be to offer free parking on weekends and after 4:30 p.m, which is something like we have now, except that it starts at 6:00 p.m. There is free parking at the market square. The time that we need more people downtown is nights and weekends. Parking is already free for them. Free parking on weekday afternoons does nothing to deal with the problems of people coming downtown for supper and on weekends.
  8. Other issues: I would like to see students moved out of their illegal rooming houses in Ward 1 and brought downtown. That may require revisions of the transit schedule, and enforcement of the R-1 Zoning of almost all of Ward 1. I have worked in the downtown for 27 years. Some people tell me that they do not feel safe downtown, so we need to take the steps to make the suburbanites feel safe in our downtown, so that they will come downtown to shop and eat. We need to better utilize our existing apartment and house stock to bring more affluent residents into the downtown.

These questions were posed to all of the candidates in Ward 1. James Nicol and Chris Primerano 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