Grant LaFleche with a look at homelessness in St. Catharines

Fantastic introspective article by Grant LaFleche (@GrantRants) over at the Standard, located here.  Read it.  I would challenge everybody to figure out what contributions each of us can make to build the kind of community we want to live in.


Year-end Reviews, updated with St. Catharines and Niagara content

EDIT – Reposted form earlier in the week, because it’s longer now, and with some updated local content.  Enjoy!

Because I get a kick out of these things, I’m going to slap together a post with the best year-end reviews from the last few and next few days.  The best ones tend to be the ‘look ahead to 2012’ – for no other reason than they come off reading like satire about two months into the year, regardless of whether they were written that way or not.

As a side-note – if you haven’t, check out a copy of the Economist’s 2012 special issue.  Awesome as always, and a chance to read what some of the leaders have to say about the upcoming year.

St. Catharines Standard: The Great Mogambo reveals all

St. Catharines Standard: The Year in quotes

St. Catharines Standard: Rick Dykstra’s look ahead

St. Catharines Standard: Jim Bradley’s look ahead

St. Catharines Standard: Top Newsmaker of 2011

Lawrence Martin in the Globe

Susan Riley in the Times-Colonist (and wow, is she angry)

CTV’s News Story of the Year

Harper isn’t changing Canada.  He’s demonstrating that Canada has changed – NatPost

National Post: Year-in-ideas

NatPost: George Jonas 2012 Predictions

NatPost: Conrad Black, sunny as always with a look ahead

I’ll add them as they start rolling in.  I find they’re usually a pretty interesting footnote to history.

Applauding Rick Dysktra for the federal contribution in St. Catharines

I caught this article in the Standard, and wanted to state for the record – we should be proud of our elected Federal representative, Rick Dykstra, for the work he’s done on behalf of the city of St. Catharines.  The last 7 (almost 8) years since Rick was elected to the House have seen an unprecedented level of federal support for our city (and downtown specifically), and I’m proud to say that I’ve supported Rick whenever I’ve had the chance to do so.

He’s done the job that our city needed him to do, and he’s done it better than just about any other MP in the country.  He’s right to be optimistic – there are a lot of great things going on in this city, and the next decade will be exciting for all of us, thanks to the combined efforts of the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments.

Taking a positive tone with the new St. Catharines Downtown

I will admit to being a little disappointed with this article in today’s Standard – while the positive comments about the new Performing Arts Centre were great to read, the article’s tone was pretty negative when it talked about the revitalization of St. Catharines’ Downtown.

The author states, quite boldly in fact, that there is no firm plan for the Downtown.  That is simply untrue.  It’s called the Creative Cluster Master Plan, and it’s the blueprint that was developed by the City and stakeholders as a roadmap for where the downtown was headed.  It’s a roadmap in progress, I might add – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we need to be prudent with taxpayer money, so all of the investment required to see it through has not been put in place yet.  Much of it, however, has.

The public investment in the downtown is on a scale unprecedented in our city’s history, both from the federal and provincial governments.  The private investment is beginning to take hold and ramp up.  Residential development, a key component to building a more livable, walkable downtown, is taking hold.  The Wine Route is slated to come online in the next few years down the middle of the district.  All of these are very positive steps in the right direction.

It would be wonderful if this could all happen tomorrow.  But it won’t, and we need to be patient.  We also need to stop speaking as if the downtown is a horrible place – it most definitely isn’t, and I have had no qualms bringing my family down there at all times of the day to support the awesome restaurants and stores that have taken root down there.  I have friends who live in the downtown core, with families to boot, and they see nothing wrong with going out with their young children.  It’s not the place it’s portrayed to be by some naysayers in the community.

Is it perfect?  Of course not.  Are there still issues?  Yes, and there are likely to be issues for a long time to come.  But that is no different than in any other city’s downtown core, and I’m happy to say that we deal with those issues using solutions from all the people who come to the table to offer them.

Take a walk in the downtown if you can over the holidays.  Stop in at one of the pubs,  restaurants or cafes for a bite to eat or a drink, or head to the market or one of the boutique stores on St. Paul, and ask yourself if downtown is what you remembered since the last time you were there?  I’ll challenge you to stop by on a more regular basis as well – because you’ll notice, just like I and many like me have, that downtown is changing, and it’s changing for the better.

Merry Christmas St. Patrick’s Ward!

I wanted to take an opportunity to wish everyone in St. Patrick’s Ward (and St. Catharines in general) a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season.  From my family to yours, I hope that the season treats you kindly, and that you find yourself refreshed and ready to face the winter that is waiting in the wings (don’t be fooled, we all know it’s coming).

The blog will be getting revamped and back up and running in the next few days.  I’ve decided to use my vacation productively, and since one of my goals in the election was to increase communication and transparency, I should put this communication tool to good use.  Hopefully I can write about topics that enough people find interesting – when in doubt, I can comment on whatever Doug Herod has chosen to write about on any given day.

Comments, as always, are welcome, so feel free to drop a thought when you have one.  With that in mind – again, take care, and enjoy the family time as best you can.