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Downtown Residents Meeting

Thursday, May 2, 2002 Beaconsfield Carriage House 2 Kent Street at 7:30 p.m Downtown Residents - a small "a" association.

Something happened last year and we did not get together, but like before, the city could use our thoughtful input on so many fronts. We have arranged to hold a gathering Thursday, May 2nd at 7:30. We have asked a group of people to be part of a panel to discuss "The Arts in The Downtown". Deirdre Kessler with be the Chair. David MacKenzie from the Centre, Chris Serverance from the Heritage Foundation, Judy Whittaker from the Council of the Arts and Margaret MacKinnon from the Crafts Council will join her. We have also asked Keir Kenny for his views. We think it will make an interesting evening - and - don't worry, we wouldn't let the topic negate bring up other subjects if anyone wishes.

Here are some other issues not on the agenda that we, as downtown residents, should be cognisant of:

  • Although we should still be pushing for the special protection of the 500 lots there are other issues. For instance, there are a number of significant properties for sale within the 500 Lots [that is Euston Street to the Waterfront, the Bridge to Government Pond]. We hope they will be acquired by people with a full appreciation for the qualities of the area. Since our last meeting we can proudly say a number of new owners and renters have moved to our neighbourhood because THEY have CHOSEN us. We welcome you and hope you find the time to come to this gathering.
  • In addition to new residents, we must welcome McAssey's Restaurant, The Gahan House, Founder's Hall, an enlarged grocery store on the corner of Hillsborough and King and a much upgraded Eddie's Lunch on Prince Street. In regard to major projects to come on stream are APM's new shop and manufacturing centre in the old Woolworth's Building on Queen Street and the IT Centre on University and Fitzroy Streets. Jack Diamond from Toronto has had his hand on the design so we should expect a pretty good building when it's finished. The block between Euston and Fitzroy has been levelled for the new Federal Building. The architectural team, for what will be a ground breaking design of a sustainable building, will be announced by the end of May. All of these impact on the community we live in and we believe can contribute to the ambience that downtown residents want.
  • As you have read recently Council has made the decision to place the skateboarders in Victoria Park. The powers - the Recreation Department - have picked their site and soon we will see the construction begin. The debate was never over the skateboarders, but the fact that Victoria Park was given over to the city by a Act of The Province in 1876. Victoria Park is not like other parks in the city, the Act makes it different. The fact that we have done many things wrong in the past does not negate our responsibility to that act.
  • Another Green Space is on the city's agenda. The Experimental Farm is another potential park area. This 88 acre site has been a landmark [and open space] in our community for more than 90 years. It was being phased out by the Federal Government, but not before they have given 20 acres to the city for the Aquatic/Rink Complex. Most people thought that the facility would be located at the corner of University and Belvedere, but when the big announcement was made, lo and behold, the facility is smack in the middle of the farm.. The Friends of the Farm that came into existence a few years ago had dreams and aspirations for the whole farm. That might have been a little unrealistic, but to reduce it to half of that is losing a lot. This pristine green space must be regarded carefully by the citizens of the city before it is allowed to be picked apart by a far-away- Federal-Government-policy without the citizens of this community putting in their two cents worth. Think about it!!! If you want to be part of this issue join the Friends of The Farm.
  • The issues evolving around Victoria Park and The Experimental Farm touch close to the soul of all of us. It is unfortunate to be pitting the supporters of active sports against the needs of those who enjoy passive recreation. It is time to discuss a parks policy in the city. It would be a good topic for a spring meeting.
  • The Mercantile Shift continues and the empty spaces in our downtown reflect it sadly. The closing of Henderson and Cudmore last summer was a sad blow to the people who have an historic/traditional view on our downtown shopping. We grew up just expecting it to be there. Last week we heard of new uses for the building and we look forward to activity there again.
  • Although we have a new Sobey's Grocery Store up at the head of Upper Prince Street we still do not have our grocery needs met well enough in the downtown. We are grateful for the Root Cellar and The Uncommon Grocer for our speciality items as well as some of our other necessities, but we still need a general grocery store. The Co-op has done little for us as a shopping experience, and more seriously have nothing to pick up the quality of the space itself, even with their "NEW' approach to merchandisin.
  • The promise for an updated liquor store doesn't seem to have gone anywhere although none of us can complain about the service and friendliness of the one that we have. It's just that we feel the operation could make a better contribution to the streetscape and a little redecorating could add to the spirit of the place.
  • The City Garage on the corner of Weymouth and Water Streets has moved out of the downtown and efforts are being made to replace it with a housing complex. That kind of project will only add numbers to support our downtown residential needs. Let's hope we have a favourable announcement soon on that matter.
  • The Joe Ghiz Memorial Park is looking very good. It's three cheers for the IODE, the City and others who helped shape the project.
  • There were fine new sidewalk cleaners at work around town this winter. Although people in the outskirts might not readily recognize the difference, sidewalk cleaning in the downtown offers quite different problems [and needs] than in suburbia. Cleaning sidewalks, in unison, on a city block is something impossible to pull off - and - then to co-ordinate it with the street ploughing just doesn't work. What happened this winter is a big improvement - so thanks go to the Dept of Public Works and our Councillor. [This is an point that was important on February, but we'll leave it here anyway because winter will come around again.]
  • The problems with the intersection of Queen and Water Street are being discussed. This is a very busy intersection with lots of new-in-town people confused as we more experienced ones deal with it as a four way stop. Apparently we are not going to have lights or a four way stop, but a re-configuration of the corner of Water and Queen Streets. We're going to have a major accident there if something isn't done soon.
  • Last week meetings were called to review the report of the Toronto teams who had been commissioned to look at a possible way of addressing a public transit system for our city. This is an issue that must be carefully considered in the light of our aging population, energy efficiencies, insurance rates, affects of more asphalt on our landscape, gas emissions and such things, in addition, to just plain simply addressing the over use of cars. The answers seemed to be somewhat sensible , but somehow, and maybe it was clearly stated, we will probably remain with the status quo... even tho' that will end up being more expensive in the long run. Be prepared to ponder this question seriously because the question will be asked if you would ever use such a syor need one. Think carefully.
  • Speaking of cars, lets think about trucks. The over-use of our city streets by huge trailer trucks is not exactly friendly. In most tight downtown areas such machinery is relegated to depots at the edge of town and deliveries are legislated to be done by small delivery vans. If large machines must entre they do so during off hours or by special permit. Regular traffic by these large machines is damaging to our small-close- to-the-street houses by rattling their very roots, to say nothing of the havoc they play with traffic in the downtown.
  • Much thought is being given to the building of connectors in the downtown - that is by under-ground systems or plus 15's [like on Kent Street]. The talk goes about connecting across Queen to Confederation Centre and then across Grafton to Confederation Mall and then across University to DVA and then across Kent , once again, to meet up with the new $3. million dollar garage about to be built. There would be another connection made between the new Federal Building and the Queen Street Parkade. This in a city where there is, as yet, no sidewalk to the hospital. It would be cheaper to supply everyone with all-weather clothes, boots and umbrellas.
  • His Worship Mayor MacDonald has recently set up a committee to begin the planning for the celebration of the city's 150th anniversary of its incorporation. 2005 can be an opportunity to bring together dreams and plans for our city's future. Give it some thought. Doug Boylan is the Chair of the committee or speak to the Mayor, himself.
  • Councillor Clifford Lee added last year a number of new period street lights east along Grafton Street and this summer he has intentions of installing others along University Avenue before Euston Street. He added a great many well designed trash bins, too. He has mentioned that he has heard little response to last years efforts, so you should let him know your thoughts and what you think of his effort.
  • The Mayor has also established a a steering committee to ;look at the Capital City and ponder its future. The committee under the chairmanship of Harry O'Connell is asking for community input. We'll have Harry come to a Downtown Residentseeting sometime soon and talk about it. In the meantime give our precious community some thought and contemplate the city you want in twenty five years...oh heck maybe even wonder about five years.
All those are issues for other times, at this meeting we want to think and talk about the Cultural scene in the city. Here is a list of things that make this community tick - Confederation Centre, The MacKenzie Theatre, The Council of the Arts and the Arts Guild, The Crafts Council, The Museum and Heritage Foundation with Beaconsfield, The Archives, the Library, The Symphony, UPEI, Holland College, The Culinary Institute, Book stores, antique shops and art galleries, Province House and Parks Canada's efforts, The Buzz, Keir Gallery, Founders' Hall, Art Rental, City Cinema, CBC, CHTN, The Guardian, church choirs, restaurants and bars. Add to that the staff of these places, the boards that operate them and the people they attract and you have the makings of a very vibrant community. And they are all within walking distance of one another.

Written Wednesday, April 24, 2002 at 08:24 AM

(c) 2000 by Catherine Hennessey. Questions or comments? Email me@catherinehennessey.com

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