I wish the Downtown Business Association well in trying to revitalize Main Street. It is the same fight that other communities have had to deal with after making the mistake of allowing Wal-Mart in.
There are solutions out there to make Main Street the hub of the community as it once was. Some will take time such as increasing the population density in that area to provide a customer base within walking distance of the shops and offices. Many malls are themselves being rebuilt to include apartment towers just for the reason of providing readymade customers for their retail tenants.
But there are bigger problems which will be beyond solving unless we decide to take a very hard line on the very real sources of decay. Namely the addicts, homeless people, and their enablers.
Maple Ridge also embarked on an aggressive campaign to revitalize its downtown core but that hasn’t attracted a lot of the business traffic that was hoped for. That can be laid at the foot of those enablers who have brought over 700 homeless and addicts into that area despite the best efforts of community planners and local businesses.
So there`s the rub, how to move out the dregs of society and their enablers in order to attract new businesses to Main Street. The enablers think they are doing good but they are just deceiving themselves although they will have their defenders.
The whole issue of what should be done to deal with the homeless and/or addicts is beyond just one downtown business association to solve. But solve it we must as a province, even if that requires moving those people out of the area for their safety and ours and bringing in mandatory rehab for the addicts away from communities to separate them from the dealers.
Robert T. Rock