10 Ways to Make St. Catharines Better in 2020

With the Mayor’s State of the City address coming up, I have been inspired to follow UP on last year’s “10 Ways to Make St. Catharines Better in 2019” post. Check it out…
1 | Embrace graffiti under the Geneva Street tunnel.

St. Catharines, like many communities, has a graffiti problem, and nowhere is it more glaring than the Geneva Street QEW underpass.

Let’s be proactive here and invest in making the underpass an experience. From hiring artists to create murals and improve lighting, the underpass could be a heck of a lot cooler than its current concrete jungle vibe.

2 | More food trucks!

Why did all the food trucks get cornered into Farmers markets? Why is licencing so difficult to obtain on a street? I really miss grabbing my picnic blanket and El Gastronomo’s fish tacos in Montebello park in the summer.

I have never seen a food truck at Sunset Beach or Lakeside Park either because there isn’t an opportunity to apply for a vendor licence.

These are the ultimate entrepreneur start UPs that often grow into something much bigger and more special in our community. Just look at Dispatch Restaurant, which was opened by El Gastronomo’s own Adam Hyman-Smith!

3 | Tout Niagara as the Financial Corridor.

With 2021 Games on their way, what better way to invite the world than promoting Niagara as the “Economic Corridor” along the 406! Modelled after Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, these public/private sponsorship opportunities will get snapped UP quickly and provide additional buzz coming into the St. Catharines downtown.

4 | Port Dalhousie needs a parking plan…. seriously.

Here’s the solution. With four condo developments near completion, under construction, or in the planning phase, the Port Dalhousie as we knew (or know it), will never be the same. And, with Port always having parking issues, it is about to become a parking nightmare. Enter an opportunity! 

Once the pier is completed and handed over to the city, the Federal Government will know longer have jurisdiction over the canal waterway. This means it will be completely within the cities prerogative to build what should have been done decades earlier – a Bridge to the other side (east) of the canal. 

It makes sense on so many levels! Bikers and walkers from the north-end could easily access Port Dalhousie instead of going the (really) long way around to Lakeport Rd from the waterfront trail. Plus, there are already 250 plus spots in addition to city parking at the marina. Heck, I would even argue that there is plenty of space to build a parking garage near the sanitization plant! Best yet, this is not my idea alone. Years ago I saw it in a video for the Save Lock One Project (check it out below). This is brilliant. Let’s see it happen!

5 | Can someone please organize a float down 12 mile Creek?

Welland’s Float Fest is a huge success and an absolute blast, and I for one am Jealous!  Everyone has the time of their lives while embracing what makes Welland special. Our city was founded on the 12 Mile Creek and yet most of us don’t get to play in it at all (rowers excluded). Why can’t we all grab floaty, push off near Welland Vale or maybe Richardsons Creek or Henley Island and head into Port Dalhousie’s Rennie Park. Better yet, let’s make it July 25th, and we can all float into Niagara’s 5th Annual Wing Fest. What a blast that would be!

6 | An awesome tourism sign (like everyone is showing off on Instagram of their tropical holidays!)

I love the new look of the Niagara Sign at Regional Headquarters. Yet, it’s out of the way and not really a part of the daily lives of most residents. Besides, I have deeper civic pride for St. Catharines! And want to look awesome with my family in front of THAT sign. Montebello would be a strong candidate for a location.

7 | Can we make it mandatory to vote municipally?

Can’t we at least try? With 33.6 percent turnout last election and 34.3 percent the previous four years, we have pathetic voter turnout! Alas, I am hearing a lot more than 33 percent of the population complaining, so let’s try and make it compulsory, like Australia! 

Compulsory voting is an effect of laws which require eligible citizens to register and vote in elections, and may impose penalties on those who fail to do so. As of August 2013, 22 countries provide for compulsory voting, and 11 of them,  about 5% of all United Nations members, enforce it. 

Why not add $20 to non-voters’ property taxes? And, why has voting not gone online around here? It’s 2020! Sheesh.

8 | Let’s “art-ify” all our crosswalks!

I love the idea of the rainbow crosswalk that has council approved. But why stop there, especially downtown? A piano-key inspired crosswalk would be awesome. A hockey rink inspired crosswalk, abstract art, words of positivity, the solar system… citizen’s could make proposals to the Niagara arts council (who could oversee a small budget each year for submissions). After a few years our Downtown would be a walking museum with a big impact at low cost.

9 | Add fun flavour to our most popular parks.

Lakeside, Montebello and a common space in the downtown core could have concrete Ping Pong tables. They are relatively easy and cheap to build. People will only have to bring their paddles and a ball to enjoy. This would encourage people of all backgrounds in our community to mingle. Win Win!

10 | Add a residential component to the Pen Centre

While the Pen Centre team are doing a bang UP job adapting to the fast pace change happening in the retail sector, retail development in North America isn’t getting built anymore with a residential component above it to help service the business that are there.

Come St. Patrick’s day we will be hearing again about the need to control single-family student houses. Alternatively, those “loft” apartments are so far out, that they are a convenience to no one.

The Mall has the Brock bullet for student housing; the grocery stores, the parking and the amenities! Don’t like the word students? Then perhaps condos.

The city should encourage this type of development and look at changing their zonings on all strip plazas, malls, hotels, motels and just see what presents itself. Let’s open UP our zonings to the possibilities!

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