Donnalee Morretin- At Large Candidate
1.Businesses are frequently the targets of crime and on the front line dealing with societal problems in the area; what steps do you think should be taken to ensure businesses are protected and our community is safer to explore, shop, work and play in.
People gather downtown because that’s where the help is, and as the number of people that need help grows, the number of services located downtown to provide that help also grows. We meet people where they are, and where they are is downtown.
The well-being of the FW downtown and all its citizens must become a priority for collective action and community-oriented solutions.
We need to have communication with community partners with the goal of developing more robust, cross-organizational solutions to address the underlying social issues. We need to develop a plan to support individuals dealing with mental health, addictions issues and homelessness. In addition, we need to seek action on prolific offenders, more help for victims of crime, better crime reporting, and increased police resources.
Simply talking about these issues and deflecting to other levels of government is getting us nowhere.
This isn’t businesses versus the homeless. I want better for everyone. I am asking for a better community.
Increased police presence in the area, adding more frequent and thorough cleanings, and have possible plans to add a substation. Right now we need to be focusing on getting people who need help, help.
We must find the balance between care and concern but also accountability for these people and their actions.
- What is your impression of the Fort William Business community? What is one thing that is done well and what is one thing that needs to improve?
Having been the Waterfront District BIA Coordinator, I have worked closely with the businesses, property owners and Community Police. I saw firsthand how over the years the Waterfront District was changing and thriving. We started to see the difference. It took time. I have seen firsthand how the businesses in the FW BIA care and the importance they put on keeping their businesses alive and well. I love attending the FWBIA Fall Fair, the Lighting of the Christmas Tree, sleigh rides and craft days for the children that take place downtown. I live in the area, and I am very proud of Patterson Park! So much work has been done to bring people downtown and the businesses do an amazing job welcoming everyone. We do not lack pride in the Downtown area!
When I speak with constituents, the major concern everyone has for the downtown core is voicing the safety for themselves and family members when walking downtown. The negative impact of crime and concerns for public safety is becoming dire every day. The property owners are losing tenants; the businesses are losing customers and staff; and both are faced with increased costs to either prevent vandalism or remediate vandalism. The well-being of downtown and all its citizens must become a priority for collective action and community-oriented solutions.
We’ve started so much, why can’t we get anything over the finish line? Let’s not be afraid to debate the best ideas and challenge each other respectfully and face to face. Adapt quickly. When something isn’t working — this isn’t failure, it’s REFINING.
I want us all to come to the best ideas and then support each other. I am seeking unity in the City Council. Moving to this business model will build trust and results. This is hard work. Tough decisions need to be made; people will be mad. Success and excellence must be demanded, and results need to be seen. Another word for this is leadership.
- With the revitalization of downtown Fort William project underway there is no planned community center for the area after the project is completed. Victoriaville provided an important and safe gathering place. What vision do you have to recreate a similar environment for community connectivity?
I feel we need to create connections between a “Space” and the community, by tapping into shared experiences, common values, or even the excitement of experiencing something new! Paterson Park has always been the ‘landmark of downtown’.
I can picture the park, turned into an open space for mapping a wonderful place where community can explore history, the present, and the future! We need to see what the community wants to see. Maybe Brodie/Miles Street involvement? But first we need to make plans on bettering the area and what we have. I would want this area to be the best! Ideas, we need to get creative and work in stages. What do we want to see? How do we want people to feel?
We need to reinvision our FW Downtown. Is there a strong connectivity to the surrounding infrastructure? How will the adjacent streets impact the design? Is the design accessible for all? So many things we can do, if put in the proper order. (Hope you can tell I’m getting excited about it!) If our design can’t create a strong relationship between people and the gathering place, then we shouldn’t expect them to use it. Spaces for café dining and food markets, or open spaces for recreation, events, or getting closer to nature (I love the Water Fountain!)… the dream is ours!
Thank you for letting me take this opportunity to share my thoughts!
Donnalee Morettin – Councillor at Large