For at least the past four decades I have witnessed a rags and riches scenario in the east and west ends of our downtown.
And since being elected three years ago, I have seen little improvement to an inner-city situation where the west end of my Ward 9 has thrived while the ailing east end and what should be a booming, revitalized entranceway to the city continues to decline.
One look at the taxpayer cash we continue to pump into the Kitchener Market reflects that decline as does the ongoing inability to lease retail properties that front the market.
As ward councillor, I want to do whatever I can to change a situation where east-end, downtown communities continue to be the poor cousin of the core. I also very much want to see us develop an attractive east-end gateway to the core.
While appreciating it will cost us short-term lost revenue, I think expansion of existing downtown development incentives to include the Fusion block between Cedar, King, Betzner and Charles would help correct the imbalance between the west and east ends of Ward 9. It would also recoup tax income for the city on the block that, without boundary expansion, will remain an ugly east-end eyesore for at least another five years.
That’s why I voted this week against a motion supported by a majority of councillors to delay acceptance of that boundary expansion (and the Fusion project) until 2016. Ironically, justification for that delay involves helping west-end developers (who already enjoy downtown incentives) to adjust to market conditions if and when the Fusion project moves ahead.
I think, for the sake of the ailing health of the east-end community, we can’t afford to wait two years to start developing the Fusion project.
We should expand incentive boundaries now.