"Fifty-two local businesses signed a letter to city council asking to put a pin in its downtown revitalization plans until several issues, including parking congestion, panhandling, drug-use and graffiti, were addressed."
"Competing with online shopping and chain stores is made extra difficult, the letter said "if our customer (1) struggles to find parking, (2) is accosted for money by an aggressive panhandler, (3) trips over people sleeping on the sidewalk and then (4) walks through a cloud of marijuana smoke, all the while observing (5) the general decay of the ambience on their way to a store."
2017's top stories No. 6: Businesses decry downtown plans
Tyler Harper - Nelson Star, Dec. 28, 2017
(6) "We are not indifferent to the plight of marginalized people."
A Letter to the Mayor, Council and Residents
can be found in the
May 5, 2017
Following are thoughts on the 6 salient points above. The rest of the letter goes on and on, with reasonable-us signees - in a roundabout way - blaming the City and customers for all that ails them in their downtown-world. Yet one must wonder how many of them actually read, digested and retained this.
We've had most before in chunks, over time.
Even though 52 may look impressive - a large number of familiar downtown-names are not listed. Neither is the origin of this proclamation - really - stated formally or referred to in the text.
So - even if Mayor, Council and Residents wanted to communicate: what's with this group?
1. Parking - A Human Right
Until all Railtown is turned into a parking-lot, or a parkade is built at Baker/Fall: Deal with it, drivers! There is parking - just not always exactly in front of where you want to go. That you find at the mall!
With shopping/parking often a twin-issue - a rhetorical question: Why doesn't the Nelson & District Chamber of Commerce (NDCC) once-and-for-all get out of its entitlement-mode and promote developing a doable model, instead of just whinge about this age-old fatburger inconvenience.
Parking-yoga at its CP Station? Parking Anonymous? A walk in the park?
2. Aggressive Discrimination
There is no aggressive panhandling! Never has been! Even non-aggressive panhandling - considering social iniquities province-wide - has been minimal and low-key.
The NDCC started this bit of fear-mongering with an initiative hatched by its top-tier decision-makers - not the general membership - promptly followed by Kevin Cormack, CAO, putting a panhandling-bylaw to Council. Without any factual documentation whatsoever from the NDCC/City substantiating a need.
Council rightly shelved such bylaw until - while not questioning its dubious origin and path.
This has never been about panhandling but the CAO's obsessive Euw!!! towards our unndesirables - who don't shop much either, wink-wink - to cleanse Nelson of them by any means.
3. Sidewalk Slumber
This is particularly creepy: A delightful shopping-experience could be marred by the happily spending shopper having to step over some undesirables guilty of not having any money for shopping - or food or shelter.
Nelson's haves (wanting more!) and have-nots (needing some!).
4. Blowing Smoke...
The rare whiff - from local desirables, too - but no "clouds". And not to forget - today's Nelson is totally based in quite recent, highly lucrative (trickled-down to the same 52) area dope-cultivation.
Marijuana has given this city whatever momentum it has. And clearly is in the process of losing, with no decisive grand vision to propel it forward.
Will the NDCC court marijuana dispensaries to become dues-paying members?
5. Ambient Decay
Are they talking Blade Runner here? Granted: downtown facades and awnings have needed painting and washing for years. But building-owners among the 52 are responsible for that. We are not going to rerun the '80s with all kinds of funny-money!
Signees even admit their own complacency by writing "Without exception every business and person listed below feels that we have let downtown incrementally decay in recent years." Like - thus far have attempted absolutely nothing towards improving the ambience of the area in which they do business. The ambience they are complaining about.
Hyperventilating in numbers now may make them feel good for a while. But ultimately: if everybody is responsible - nobody is responsible. The NDCC clearly is not ready to run the show.
There was an appropriate time for thoughtfully constructive input before the revitalization-plan was given more formal shape.
Where were the intrepid 52 then?
6. We Love Street People! Really!
According to Points 2 - 5 it is obvious that they indeed "are not indifferent to the plight of marginalized people". To the point of largely blaming them elsewhere in this exhausting letter for downtown's "decay".
Now What - So What!
Businesses have reason to be worried about "online shopping and chain stores": thanks to their NDCC still waiting to see profit-margins magically upped, those including their customers' - fools they! - tax-dollars.
Most recent example: the NDCC's disinclination to decisively push downtown shop-owners into a concerted Xmas-cheer effort.
Even though for their own benefit!
None of these businesses are in the business of employing locals and paying taxes. They're in it to make money for themselves. The more successful they are - the more minimum-wage help they need, and the more taxes they pay.
That's how that works!
One hopes Council will remember the NDCC's here at best repetitious and at worst offensive posturing when it comes to next-time funding!
Tom Thomson, NDCC
Deb Kozak, Mayor
Kevin Cormack, CAO
Pam Mierau, Development Services