Although he probably didn’t notice, the city’s Ward Three councilor has delivered an appropriate indictment to the authors of the so-called Downtown Enhancement and Community Improvement Plan. The plan is touted as a roadmap to return the bustle of big city life to the core but, unfortunately, offers little direction or guidance.
On October 12, during the local CBC outlet’s special report from downtown, host Arms Bumanlag asked Rino Bortolin point blank if he had solutions to solve the city’s downtown woes. Bortolin was frank, saying,“Do I have the answers? No.”
Yet Bortolin spent two and half years spearheading the enhancement document and then, curiously, released it a year before the next municipal election. He is correct. It is a document sans answers.
It does recommended giving landlords money to fix deteriorating store facades and recommends to do proper research on ideal residential and retail development. Why the research wasn’t done in advance of the report remains as mysterious as the report’s cost.
With all of its pretty pictures, it certainly looks expensive.
Recommendation 14 suggests the city should work with the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association to, “… explore the feasibility of preparing a Retail Market Analysis and Recruitment Strategy with the goal of actively targeting retailers that contribute to the optimal retail mix for downtown Windsor.”
In its explanation, it talks of the expectation that the study will uncover the so-called price point and warns that, “… missing the mark on price point (e.g. a high-end or value-oriented district), will divert effort and resources away from pursuing retailers that are better suited to the Downtown Windsor market.”
It then describes the study as, “… similar to the suggested approach for future housing studies.”
By releasing an incomplete document with no solutions, only recommendations to do studies, Bortolin has effectively abdicated his role as a city leader.
Although, when asked by Bumanlag if he plans to run for mayor, he mumbled something about a lot more work to do in the ward. The point Bortolin misses is that he already has had three years and all he can do is brandish a half-completed report without solutions. Why? Because, with the report as evidence, he didn’t roll up his sleeves to do the heavy lifting.
Time should be of the essence in revitalizing downtown. Under Bortolin’s tutelage, almost four years have been wasted. For that Windsor taxpayers will pay a price, but Bortolin, too, could pay the ultimate price and be shut out by voters.