Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Business class offers up their suggestions for the candidates

With the downtown core still struggling to remain relevant in light of the tight times over the last ten years, those that still operate businesses in Prince Rupert have provided a check list of sorts for those that seek our vote on November 15th.

There main concerns seem to be the general dirtiness of the downtown area these days, from the shape of many of the buildings in the downtown core to the garbage and debris that seems to accumulate on the streets and back lanes.

The recent rash of vandalism and increase in downtown break and enters also has weighed heavy on their minds these last few months, a situation that seems to have left many of them frustrated over the lack of action or interest from city hall on the issue.

The Wednesday edition of the Daily News outlined the concerns of those businesses in the downtown and Cow Bay areas, a call out for municipal help in rejuvenating the struggling sector and improving the infra structure of business on our downtown streets.

Merchants write election wish-list
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Pages one and two

With vacancy signs popping up like jiffypop, and some buildings that look about as sturdy as soft butter, Third Avenue business owners are worried about the future of the downtown core.

There is no one uniform issue that shop owners say they agree about but there is one thing that most can agree on – they want some municipal help.

“Clean up the town,” said General Paint operator Louie Amante.

“It’s disgusting, there are filthy buildings everywhere and they should be looked after. Get a hold of the owners and do whatever it takes to clean them up.”

Amante isn’t the only shop operator who wants to see something done.

Irmgard Bucholz, along with Pam Mohoney from Studio 9 thought that the deteriorating condition of downtown is hurting business considerably and civic pride, and they want to see something done about it.

“I would ask the people who own the buildings to do their buildings up,” said Mohoney.

It turns out, there is no lack of diversity when it comes to opinion on what the city should do.

There is also a sentiment among merchants that the city is not a safe enough place to do business and that city council would be well advised to do something about that.

Loaded owner Marc Page said that he thinks local youths need to be engaged more in the community and that if the city did that it would be positioned to help local business confidence.

“Considering it’s the rainiest place in all of Canada, what are the youth going to do except stay at home and (play with) computers, go to parties at night and hanging out here (at Loaded)? What can the kids actually do?

Page said city council seems to be more concerned about people who are retiring than the kids and he said it didn’t seem that the previous city council had taken on much responsibility over what young people were doing in Prince Rupert.

“It doesn’t seem that they have any goals or plans in place to try to help these kids on better track,” said Page.

Page added that the broken windows and general crime were issues that Third Avenue merchants are facing.

La Cucina owner Doug Morash agreed. For him, if the city is going to grow business in town the amount of broken windows has to decrease.

Morash thought that a little more security downtown and keeping young people off the streets at night would save him some money and grief worrying about “riff-raff” around the downtown core.

“We have had so many break and enters downtown, the Bargain Shop had five windows broken one weekend, the Subway (on Second Avenue) has 12 broken windows in 10 months and that is not conducive to doing business in a town,” said shop owner Anna Fehr.

But not all are convinced the city is capable, nor should be expected to help small business in Prince Rupert.

Baker Boy owner Paul Mar isn’t sure there is a whole lot a new city council can do to improve business.

To him, the real economic improvement will need leadership from outside Prince Rupert.

“There is not much anyone can do. Everything is global now. What happens in Prince Rupert will be like a pimple sample. I do not believe we can do anything about it,” said Mar. “We just have to go with the flow and see what happens.”

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