10 Ways to make St. Catharines a better city in 2019

Expectations for St. Catharines in 2019 are optimistic. But, let’s really give it our all. How can we make the city a better place in the year ahead? Here are our suggestions:   Bring back the words “downtown waterfront” to our vocabulary! We were founded on the Twelve Mile River after all (it’s our Nile!). […]

Expectations for St. Catharines in 2019 are optimistic. But, let’s really give it our all. How can we make the city a better place in the year ahead? Here are our suggestions:
St. Catharines downtown waterfront

St. Catharines downtown waterfront

 

  1. Bring back the words “downtown waterfront” to our vocabulary! We were founded on the Twelve Mile River after all (it’s our Nile!). On the Southside, near the Burgoyne Bridge, do away with the firefighter tower. Dedicate this land to a park and invite developers to submit unique proposals for integration of both. On the Northside, restore Oakhill Park to its garden glory. Add gooseneck lighting along the path and sand at the base of the park near Sally McGarr. This is the best view of the river and perfect for a downtown beach with possible beach volleyball.
Toronto's downtown beach

Toronto’s downtown beach

 

  1. Move greenbelt zoning in the West End. Get our MP and city to pressure Queens Park to change the greenbelt zoning in the West End to Third Ave. The farmers have long abandoned investment here. It’s now cash crop! The old driving range is desolate and the Hospital and Pathstones Mental Health have long been established and look out of place here. And this comes from someone who loves his parks and green space, but come on, this needs to be done!

 

  1. Expropriate the St. Paul Street Parking Lot. This is a particularly ugly space right in the middle of downtown on Helliwell’s Lane. Turn this into our version of Byward Market in Ottawa. Heck, maybe move the Farmers’ Market here and look into proposals for the current Farmers Market location and old City-owned and abandoned Courthouse. Would be a super cool conversion! This will all help make downtown more walkable.
St. Catharines downtown

Parking lot on St. Paul Street and Helliwell’s Lane, St Catharines

 

  1. Be more bike friendly. Create green bike lanes starting from City Hall and expand from there. Let’s make a statement!

 

  1. Fairview Mall Golf course master plan. Commit to 60% of this land remaining as green space and investigate designs that open UP a road to alleviate congestion of the Fairview Mall area to Scott Street. There is the a historic lock beside the plaza on Scott Street with ugly fencing around it to prevent liability. Redesigning this area is an opportunity to save and preserve our derelict 3rd Canal.
Remnants of St. Catharines' historical Lock 3

Remnants of  St. Catharines’ historical lock on the 3rd Welland Canal site

 

  1. Make Hartzel Rd mixed use. Encourage residential zoning on top of all the commercial zoning on Hartzel Rd. This area is starving for mixed use!

 

  1. Clean-up the streets. Make a bylaw to stop grocery carts from leaving grocery stores. Geneva Street in particular is gross! Same with student areas around the Pen Centre.

 

  1. Embrace winter. St. Catharines needs and deserves an outdoor skating rink like the Niagara Parks and Gretzky. There is practically no public skating anymore in the city. This is a travesty. Put it in Montebello Park!
Empty Montebello Park, St. Catharines, in Winter

Montebello Park, St. Catharines, sitting empty in Winter

 

  1.  Grow the Go, and our city! The first Go Train has now pulled out of St. Catharines, but it’s not cheap or quick to commute to Toronto for work (2.5 hours!). The scheduled times are also going to make it difficult, especially if you don’t leave the office exactly at 5pm. Let’s add more times, with express service to Toronto, and make it affordable enough that commuters decide to leave their cars at home. This will encourage more people who work in Toronto to opt for the lifestyle perks of living in Niagara. Also, sell the air around the Train Station like the student housing downtown on James and Wellington. The developer can keep the same amount of parking space for the public and open UP opportunities for tremendous mix use,  accelerating the use of the GO Station. Set UP bird scooters from the station through the downtown and UP to Brock.
Bird Scooters would be a great way to get to and from Go Train

Bird Scooters would be a great way to get to and from Go Train

 

  1. Get rid of empty shop fronts in the downtown core. Utilize further grants, like the “Win This Space” competition organized by the St. Catharines Downtown Association, and incentives to encourage new businesses to downtown. The revitalization of St. Paul Street began with the new Performing Arts Centre. Let’s keep the momentum going and minimize empty shop fronts! Newcastle, Australia, is a great example of this with their “Renew Newcastle” program. If you visited 10 years ago, you wouldn’t even recognize this regional post-industrial seaside city. It is now regularly featured in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities in the World lists.

 

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