Duff Stewart- Current River 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.
Society and Fort William has changed a lot since the Victoriaville was built. Financial centers have fled. Restaurants have disappeared, small businesses too have retreated, and the bus terminal moved to the city hall. It seems that the lack of traffic flow on Victoria and May was the death knell for businesses that required people. The courthouse has not increased the pedestrian traffic due to its schedule. Once the revitalization of the downtown core gets going tax rates are needed to be reduced to lure back entrepreneurs. More parking close to major businesses will help. If the city designated an area a boutique that may bring destination shoppers. Once the businesses take root, beat policemen will patrol there on foot or by two wheelers and provide stability by the presence.
- 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?
The business community is very good at rendering services. But they need help to bring people back to the core.
Amazon and the businesses built on delivery are difficult to compete with. But by following examples of cities that have reinvigorated downtown urban areas. The answer lies in those successful towns and cities. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
- 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?
Paterson Park had that possibility but it was destroyed years ago. The issue of a safe gathering place is dependent on viable businesses that foster the security and protection vulnerable citizens need. In the best years downtown, residents could find Chapples, the banks and other commercial places that could rely on the police patrols. Community policing brought back a presence that deterred vandals and criminal activity. Additionally bright lights and cameras help reduce crime. The designation of green space and comfortable areas would help. It will take many tries and solutions to bring it back but a
dedicated council and BID effort will yield a surge in community pride and should work. Maybe bring the cruise ships to stop in that area and more customers.