Project: Downtown’s first event was a success.
View the album here and tag yourself and your friends!
The next open meeting is:
Tuesday, March 3
Bring your ideas, bring a friend!
James Takeo: Get Behind Project: Downtown
I’m pretty happy to read about one of the newest initiatives taking place in our community, the Project: Downtown event, commencing Thursday.
Many know that I’m a fan of downtown revitalization, but from more of a grassroots perspective. I applaud the members on their attempt to “breathe new life into Welland’s downtown while simultaneously reintroducing a sense of pride in the heart of the city” by investing interest into this community’s best resource: its people.
When I read the online article regarding this event, and after reading through the comments section, I noted one stated that he wished to hear a listing of the positive aspects of Welland. This made me curious about what people around here might list as the positives that exist here, so, after an informal survey on one of my social media accounts, I received a number of responses from others about all things “Welland good.”
Not surprisingly, the recreational canal was mentioned numerous times, along with much of our green spaces and parks in our city. There were mentions of specific places (Merritt Island, Chippawa Park), sporting activities (fishing, rowing, hockey, canoeing), venues (library, museum, market square), arts and culture (murals, sculpture park), location (proximity to Toronto, in heart of Niagara region) and some of the great local businesses many of us patronize (Pupo’s, Celi & Presti’s).
Of all the responses, the most interesting and numerous ones were the references to the people who live here, as can be summed up by one commentator on my survey thread when he quipped that Welland has “the feeling of family among friends.”
Granted, there are times when people in this city can be divided on issues and concerns, but I feel that most here understand the truth in the above statement about the feeling of family. I have witnessed times when some of our own citizens are in a time of dire need, as the result of some emergency, and when the word goes out seeking help, it gets answered — fast.
For a city of 51,000, often it feels like a much smaller town, and I believe that although the economics and some of demographics of this community have changed, the sense of community spirit still remains embedded in the bones of these streets whose names we all know so well, for both newcomers and “lifers” alike.
With the harsh economic reality that is here locally, any initiative is a step in a good direction. Get people out, enjoy the neighbourhood, check out the local businesses and patronize when possible, and, most importantly, meet and talk to each other.
With the desire to attract people downtown, this Project: Downtown initiative addresses a need that businesses in the downtown core could realize: people want to not only come downtown, but they may want to come downtown to do something.
There are a few places downtown that offer dining and refreshments in good atmosphere, but beyond eating and drinking, what else is there to do? Libraries and museums offer a bit, and the occasional event downtown — and hopefully a free concert series in the future — does attract people to the downtown core. There are also some businesses that do provide local entertainment, but beyond that, there feels as though there is little to do.
Maybe it’s time we start finding things to do downtown, or, in the case of the Project: Downtown, make something to do ourselves.
Put down your device, turn off the TV and hope to see you downtown soon.
This column appeared in the Welland Tribune, Feb. 23, 2015