Too little, too late?
Re: Task force to tackle downtown problems (June 24) and Outreach team returns downtown (June 24)
It is heartening to see the return of the outreach team and the initiation of the downtown improvement task force, even if one worries it may already be too little, too late.
Even as these initiatives are taking place two more long-term businesses, Dentistry on Nelson and Scott’s Computer Emporium are vacating the area. Only a handful of commercial businesses, predominantly restaurants and coffee outlets, remain. Without Laurier, Conestoga, the Sanderson Centre, government and social support services only a ghost town would exist.
There is, of course, the mall and farmers market on the south side but they are effectively cut off from the downtown by the closing of Market Street and the parking garage. This reality was driven home to me a few years back when I was walking along Market. I was passing the Bell building when I was stopped by an out-of-town family asking for directions to the Iron Horse. They knew it was located at 2 Market but had found the street ended at Dalhousie. I directed them to their destination via Brant Avenue. They left and I continued my walk. When I reached Colborne Street, I met them again, still trying to reach the Iron Horse. I redirected them this time using Clarence Street. As I watched, they finally located Market Street. It was not long after this incident that the Iron Horse closed.
The reality is that being effectively cut off from southern Brantford, by street closure and garage, the downtown is no longer the centre of Brantford but the southern fringe of northern Brantford which is well serviced by commercial outlets. The Grand River makes west Brantford an entity onto itself. It would appear that the only future for the downtown is to develop its post- secondary educational campuses, create a cultural centre using Sanderson as a focal point and retain government in this location. These are all facilities not available in the rest of the city. The role of commerce in the area would then be to serve these primary functions.
Whatever plan the task force initiates, it is going to need a determined and focused effort to stop the downtown’s death spiral.
Robert J. MacMillan
Don’t cancel Canada Day
My parents escaped an oppressive communist country during the Second World War, and Canada welcomed them with open arms. They loved our country and were proud to call themselves Canadians. I remember that, as a child, each time we crossed the Peace Bridge after visiting my aunt in New York, my mother would sing O Canada at the top of her lungs once we reached the Canadian border. My sisters and I giggled in the back seat as she sang off key. But my parents instilled in us a love for Canada and never let us forget how lucky we are to live in the greatest country in the world.
Canada has a history of some bad things. What happened with the residential school children is horrific. But Canada also has a history of great things. We shouldn’t cancel Canada Day as some suggest. I, for one, intend to continue to celebrate it in my own way and wave our flag as a proud Canadian. And, no doubt, my mother will continue to sing our anthem from above.