Last night, a group of 16 concerned and motivated individuals gathered at Niagara Sport & Social on Rice Road to talk about Welland’s future. An event that spun off from the widely popular It’s All Welland Good reunion, this was a more intimate gathering with the aim of discussing Welland’s future.
Welland is no longer a manufacturing hub. It doesn’t pretend to be and as a community, we need to let that go and figure out what Welland actually is. Instead of dwelling on the past, we need to decide what we are now about, what defines us. Is Welland a college town? Are the waterways central to the city? What is Welland’s spark, our defining marker that sets us apart and is the reason we all live here? Only when we define Welland can we move forward with direction.
It was all agreed that Niagara College’s students are a widely untapped resource in Welland. These are thousands of students with money who decide to make Welland their home for up to 3 years at a time (that’s if they end up going home after graduating) and nothing has been done to utilize them for the greater good of downtown. Businesses downtown that attract this demographic are in dire need. Bars and restaurants geared to under-30 and a coworking environment were both brought up as options. All buses lead downtown: there is no reason we should not be pushing these students to the area. In fact, it may be the missing link we’ve been looking for all these years.
Another concern is the huge lack of development along our canals. Welland is very lucky to have such a huge abundance of water and waterways, yet less than 10% of that land is actually utilized. Shops, campgrounds and small cafes were all great ideas. In nearly every other municipality that has a layout similar to that of Welland has development along waterways.
Photo: Jay Zen Kalryzian
One thing was agreed upon, and that is the need to stop talking and start DOING. Will you join us?