To The Editor,
Many years ago, in the 60’s, Niagara Falls had a vibrant, active, and busy downtown; banks, butcher and fish shops, bakeries, as well as many good restaurants. There was also Rosberg’s, a large department store, and the core of the town.
A few years later, the Penn Center was built in St. Catharines, just a few km from Niagara. My memories are that consumers loved it. Then a similar mall was built on the outskirts of Niagara Falls, along the Queen Elizabeth Way.
Today, the main street of Niagara continues to have many empty store fronts, and the main core of the city is pretty dismal, although the city has tried many improvements. Some of the former stores, like Rosbergs are now small parkettes, after many years of nothing or the remnants of former buildings. This is a pattern found in many small cities.
The city of Hawkesbury, has made some important decisions over the past twenty years, related to development. There is a familiar pattern, and it has forced fundamental changes in the evolution of the downtown, mainly negative. One of these was the location of the “new” bridge to Quebec, which should have been located further downstream so as to connect to Tupper, giving easy access to Highway 17/417, south on an existing wide parkway. This would have avoided all the “drive through” visitors.
Hawkesbury is facing a dark cloud that is slowly stalking its downtown. Step by step the town is creating the conditions for the town’s central business area to be gutted, like so many other small cities in Ontario and the US. A good example is Rockland. It used to be that a drive to Ottawa was very pleasant, if taken along highway 17. Now, the area near Rockland is a bottleneck, due to commercial development, with many familiar big boxes established adjacent to the highway.
The downtown is obviously struggling.
In the past decade, Hawkesbury has opened the door to the same blight here. Now there are many big boxes, familiar fast food outlets, traffic lights, slower highway speeds, and more accidents beget more traffic lights. The LCBO has moved. Is the Beer Store next?
An election is coming, and choices will be made about councillors, and the mayor. Ask them, about their attitudes to more development along the highway and more empty stores downtown. Ask them, will they undertake real, long term, and visionary planning? Ask them, what happened? That is what is needed, and is about the future of “your town”.
These are entirely my opinions, based on my observations over many decades, no
Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter (NFIT). “No phone, no pool, no pets, I ain’t got no cigarettes.”
Chute a Blondeau