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For a Healthy Downtown

A stroll downtown, a bite to eat, a book to read, a friend to meet - there is nothing better than going downtown for a drink with a friend on a patio or some food from the Farmers- or Christmas Market: Social time on Stephen Street - the best way of spending time with friends. 

There are numerous factors playing into reinvigorating downtown social life and making our city core more attractive to pedestrians and more desirable for retail businesses. A change in attitude is the initiator to this step - identifying the downtown core as desirable, fun, green, tasty - a place where people feel drawn and encouraged to casually socialize.

A first step in making this idea a reality is by making Stephen Street safer for  pedestrians. This can be done by widening pedestrian space at every intersection - in other words designing intersections to be as traffic-compact as possible. Compact intersections reduce pedestrian exposure, slow traffic near conflict points, and increase visibility for all users. 

Speaking of traffic, these intersection designs also discourage speeding. I would like to see the speed limited reduced to 30 km/h in the core on Stephen Street. Additionally I would like to see painted crosswalks on all downtown intersections to further ease pedestrian transitioning from one side of the street to the other. 

After this, we need to make more retail opportunities possible for Stephen Street. It doesn't take much to walk down Stephen Street and see where precious retail space (and therefore much potential) is wasted. Our attitude and responsibly towards downtown property space and core densification is changing. People are demanding more spaces that enable social and cultural gathering, and we need to provide this space through thoughtful downtown planning.

Creating a seasonal town-square on 8th Street was a great idea that deserves a new attempt. A city needs a town square - an official centre of our community. A half-block traffic-free market square on 8th Street between Stephen Street at the post office could host food vendors, the famers market, other seasonal markets and an extended suncatch-season for more frequent event hosting. This would be a seasonal solution, with barricades being erected spring to fall. Because it is only half a block wide, it still allows full access to the post office on 8th Street from North Railway Street and the back lane.

I imagine a city concept that features a robust downtown as the social, entertainment, arts, fun, food, retail , cultural and historic centre of our city. This is where we can make Morden set itself apart from other towns as a distinct place with its own unique character. 

Municipal governments have the opportunity to encourage, permit and assist innovative ideas for downtown development. As a city official, I'd like to work with a team that can act as an agent of change and creativity, rather than a killer of innovative ideas. With a mindset that is friendly, inviting and supportive of creative thinkers in our community we will attract unique business investments. 

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