Yesterday I decided to take some time and visit with the owners of the businesses in the downtown core to hear what they feel are the biggest concerns and issues facing them. Just as meeting with residents is important, I feel meeting our local business owners is a great way to hear their concerns directly so as to gain a clearer understanding of the issues. I had a great time meeting and speaking with each and every one of them. I discussed many topics with the business owners and a number of the issues raised I will bring up with staff, as I think they can be solved fairly quickly.
Some of the main and reoccurring issues that we discussed were that of parking and Library Square/Cultural Precinct.
Parking was a big topic that we need to look at certainly as it speaks to considering the area as a whole. While some thought it would make sense to remove parking entirely on Yonge St. , a few felt that it is much needed. Other thoughts were to make sure that parking is properly signed, so that people know where they can – and cannot! – park. There was a general sense that the Town needs to develop a better strategy with regards to parking in the Downtown Core.
The other big topic is the Cultural Precinct and what Council is doing with Library Square. In speaking to the business owners about the Cultural Precinct/Library Square initiative, as I have stated previously, I reiterated that I believe to make this area vibrant; to kick start the revitalization of the downtown it comes down to 3 main over-arching elements: 1. A centre square (Piazza) 2. Mixed use residential with commercial on the ground floor and 3. Some kind of well thought out parking strategy (whether it is street level, underground, a structure or some combination of all of them). All the business-owners that I spoke to felt that this three pronged focus was a good idea. I also mentioned the traffic management plan I have proposed – with “one-ways” and parking around library square – and they all felt this would be a great idea that should be explored and are looking forward to the public consultation.
However, while the proposed plans generated some enthusiasm, regardless, they all expressed the same sentiment – that something needs to be done and that Council needs to make a decision to make it happen. I couldn’t agree more! It is time for action and for Council to move forward to build on the work done and ideas brought forward over the past 20 years and create a true destination, a central hub for our community.
So I think the business owners are looking for one thing and that is action. I’m excited about what the next 6 months will bring with regards to moving forward with realizing a vision for library square and the downtown core that will help our local businesses flourish…