I am confused by the notion that installing new sidewalks and decorative street lights on Fiirst Avenue will revitalize the downtown area of Mission.
I suspect that most Mission residents would agree that it is neither the state of the sidewalks nor the street lights that cause us to shop elsewhere.
The essential question that needs to be answered is what would attract us to this area to spend our hard-earned money?
What kind of shops do we want? What kind of atmosphere and experience do we want? And who should we ask about all of this?
The reality is that the downtown area must compete with major shopping centres in the area.
There is an abundance of retail opportunities within a short distance of the downtown area, in Mission, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge. They offer a huge selection at competitive prices, in comfortable, climate-controlled atmospheres.
Surely, if the downtown area wants to compete with this, it must face this reality head-on and create a real alternative instead of pretending the problem is sidewalks or street lights.
Is this possible? Some cities in the U.S. have found ways to actually revitalize traditional shopping areas.
For example, the city of Louisville spent huge funds to cover one retail area with a glass roof. In the short time I spent there, the area was clearly a bustling city hub.
But I do not know whether this was a profitable venture when all is said and done.
I don’t have the answers to any of the questions I pose. But the answers must form the starting point of whether the downtown area will survive, if it should survive at all.
I suspect that new sidewalks and street lights will play virtually no role answering that most basic and pivotal question.