Archive for the 'spirit square' category

fighting ghosts

May 2, 2008

There is at least one Marine Drive restaurant owner who continues to act as though the reason his business is failing is because of the Spirit Square project that will begin construction in September. While I (and many others on Council) have been trying to have a dialogue about how to make it easier for customers to visit Marine Drive businesses, it seems he’s more interested in attempting to stop the park expansion – as though the project not proceeding would resolve parking problems on the beach.

The Mayor has created an opportunity to address some long-standing transportation and customer service challenges on Marine Drive. Rather than take advantage of the opportunity and work with the City on solutions, he just wants to complain about the Spirit Square. These are issues that have been a problem on Marine Drive for decades and will continue to be the achilles heel for waterfront businesses with or without the Spirit Square. It would be incredibly short-sighted to waste this opportunity for the sake of trying to sabotage Spirit Square.

If the real goal is to create an exceptional, special experience for visitors to the waterfront, then all merchants ought to be looking for ways to improve transportation systems so that their concerns about the Spirit Square will be resolved. Anyone objective or with any knowledge of urban planning knows that well-planned public spaces are good for business.

If transportation is the issue, then let’s focus on that – let’s put in place solutions to the real problem. It would be counter-productive to defeat the Spirit Square for the sake of parking – that won’t solve the problem and would just waste an opportunity to refresh and improve the focal point of the waterfront.


April 25, 2008

At least one restauranteur has read my previous post and sent a contemptuous retort.

The intention of the post was to illustrate how some of the personal insults I’ve been subjected to could be as much projection as reflection. I really don’t see the point of this contest of who’s smarter or better in business. It would be easy for me to throw stones back, but how would that help?

Why can’t we just focus on the challenges and solutions?

A mistake I keep making as an elected person is assuming that everyone wants to approach dialogue with an open-mind, interested in learning and trying out different perspectives. I also keep forgetting that a lot of people aren’t willing to take responsibility for their own choices.

It seems sad now that my intention with this Spirit Square process was actually to build trust in the community. I had hoped it would become an opportunity to learn together about urban planning and public spaces. I thought that empowering a group citizens to represent their own organizations would get more people engaged in a meaningful and constructive way. Clearly I failed in that regard. I believe the resulting design was a great success, but the process did nothing to build trust in the community beyond those who participated.

In hindsight, I can see that there were things that I could have done. But I still don’t think it is reasonable to say that the outcomes were predictable. To some degree they were, but with very little available staff time and no other resources, there’s not much I could have done different.

Mr. Riome of Frond’s did say that I should have walked Marine Drive to personally talk with each merchant knowing that most would not make contact even though they have questions or concerns. And he’s right. I should have done that.

pot and kettle

April 23, 2008

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that people who own failing businesses are accusing me of having poor business skills? They who say their business is on the brink of failure tell me that the process I have undertaken to design the expansion of a park is poor planning.

The people who now tell me they are rallying to have me unseated in the next election didn’t bother to call or meet with me during the 3 month Spirit Square design process — a series of workshops at which they had a representative who was supposed to share their ideas and concerns.

They claim that the only solution to new competition from the surrounding community is for the City parking program to adapt. They say the only reason people are going to these chic new restaurants is because of an abundance of free parking close to the door.

Enough of the blame game and finger pointing. Let’s get on with creating new reasons for people to come to the beach and making it easier for them to do it.

location deduction

February 4, 2008

It seems there is almost nobody who agrees with the proposed location of the Spirit Square. They say it should be further down on West Beach, or better yet, on East Beach — they need more down there, I’m told.

So, please correct me where my logic fails:

  • If parking in White Rock is a sacred obsession, then impact on parking lots must be none to minimal;
  • If a public square might be used for music or have people in it late at night and early morning, then it should not be in a residential neighbourhood;
  • If a gathering place can help bring people to local businesses, then it would best be located in front of businesses;
  • If it is expected to be used for celebrations, then it will need to be big enough to accommodate a stage;
  • If the intention is to create a meeting place, then it should be located where travel paths to many different destinations cross.

So… we need a wide space in front of businesses in a central place that won’t take away any precious parking… I can only think of one space along the waterfront that meets those criteria.

I’m glad Totem Plaza was created. It’s pretty to look at as I walk by to the museum or pier. But the purpose of this Spirit Square project is not to build another pretty monument, it is to create a space that functions exceptionally well as meeting place for friends, to watch passersby, or join a community celebration.

Memorial Park is the best place for a Spirit Square. It is the only waterfront location that meets all 5 criteria listed above.