Wa­ter­front’s been ig­nored for too long

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NEWS - W. BRICE MCVICAR

It’s about time. That’s the eas­i­est way to sum up Mayor Taso Christo­pher’s an­nounce­ment ear­lier this week the city is putting its eye on the wa­ter­front op­por­tu­ni­ties in Belleville. In a city that boasts some of the great­est wa­ter­front in eastern On­tario it’s about time some­thing be done to cap­i­tal­ize on it. Other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have em­braced their wa­ter­fronts and made them a place peo­ple want to go to and visit. We’ve got a walk­ing trail ....

Yes, our trail sys­tem is a great fea­ture and adds to our qual­ity of life, but the wa­ter­front in Belleville is, for the most part, vastly ig­nored. Look at other places such as Kingston, Cobourg and Tren­ton where the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and busi­nesses — col­lec­tively — have em­braced the shore­line. Res­i­dents and vis­i­tors can visit shops, eat at restau­rants with pa­tios look­ing at the wa­ter and en­joy the scenery. Here we can walk the trail and sit on a bal­cony at some restau­rants and bars nd, along the Moira, look at the backs of other build­ings. Oh, the ap­peal.

It’s noth­ing new in Belleville, ei­ther. Look­ing back at his­tory we’ll see how a gasi­fi­ca­tion plant was placed on the shore in Fos­ter Ward and Zwicks Park, be­fore it be­came a pop­u­lar spot for gay sex, and was used as a garbage dump for years. Heck, there are still days when the wind blows right you can’t en­joy the Bayshore Trail be­cause of the smell of sewage com­ing from the treat­ment plant. Yep, we’ve al­ways seen the value of the wa­ter­front in Belleville.

Now, though, ap­par­ently, the city has seen the er­ror of its ways and wants to make good on what’s there. Details, at this point, aren’t much, but Christo­pher daz­zled a crowd at Wed­nes­day’s Belleville and Dis­trict Cham­ber of Com­merce break­fast with vi­sions of a new and im­proved use of the wa­ter­front. Here’s hop­ing it’s not smoke and mir­rors.

The word ‘part­ner­ship’ was used a hand­ful of times by the mayor and that shouldn’t come as a sur­prise. Buy in from the pri­vate sec­tor will be para­mount to have any such plan come to fruition. The city can’t do it alone and busi­nesses are go­ing to have to get on board.

While the city de­serves ku­dos for fi­nally rec­og­niz­ing the lost op­por­tu­nity, it’s go­ing to take a lot of work to bring the shore­line to the fore­front.

• Not that long ago po­lice Chief Ron Gignac stressed the need to crack down on road safety in the city. Gignac said he’d like to put more fo­cus on the traf­fic unit to get mo­torists in tune with laws and, it would ap­pear, he wasn’t blow­ing smoke.

Reg­u­lar fol­low­ers of the daily cop briefs in th­ese pages have, hope­fully, no­ticed there’s been an in­crease in the RIDE (Re­duce Im­paired Driv­ing Ev­ery­where) Pro­gram checks across the city. Gen­er­ally, we think of RIDE stops tak­ing place around the Christ­mas hol­i­days, but they’re be­com­ing a reg­u­lar fea­ture here in Belleville re­cently.

Good on the cops for be­ing proac­tive and ran­domly throw­ing up the check­points. Im­paired driv­ers aren’t wait­ing for the hol­i­days to start drink­ing and driv­ing and an in­creased vis­i­bil­ity by the cops will hope­fully drive home the mes­sage to leave the car at home if you’re plan­ning on hav­ing a few too many.

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