Town Ward can­di­dates dis­cuss fu­ture of down­town at de­bate

Pedes­trian malls, road clo­sures, ar­chi­tec­ture and Lit­tle Lake con­dos ad­dressed at meet­ing

The Peterborough Examiner - - Local - JOELLE KO­VACH Ex­am­iner Staff Writer joelle.ko­vach@pe­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

Down­town Peter­bor­ough should try clos­ing streets to mo­tor­ized traf­fic more of­ten than just once a year in sum­mer to cre­ate tem­po­rary pedes­trian malls, said one can­di­date run­ning for coun­cil in Town Ward.

The idea emerged dur­ing a de­bate for all Town Ward can­di­dates at The Venue — or­ga­nized by the Down­town BIA — on Thurs­day even­ing.

“I love, love, love when Hunter St. closes in sum­mer,” said Jim Rus­sell, re­fer­ring to the an­nual one-day down­town fes­ti­val called Pulse.

But he’d like to see the city try clos­ing other streets, too — Ge­orge St., maybe — as a way to cre­ate pedes­trian malls.

It may mean busi­nesses must put up with a de­gree of in­con­ve­nience, Rus­sell said — but he still thinks it’s worth try­ing.

“I think we have that kind of ca­pac­ity in Peter­bor­ough,” he said.

All five can­di­dates run­ning for Town Ward were present at the de­bate: Rus­sell, plus Dean Pap­pas (who is run­ning for re-elec­tion), Kemi Akapo, Jane David­son and Jenny Lan­ci­ault.

This is the only ward-spe­cific de­bate be­ing held: there aren’t any sim­i­lar gath­er­ings sched­uled for the other four wards.

Town Ward in­cludes the down­town — that’s why the DBIA or­ga­nized it.

While the event was well-at­tended, there weren’t as many peo­ple as there had been a week prior when the DBIA, the Women’s Busi­ness Net­work and the Greater Peter­bor­ough Cham­ber of Com­merce or­ga­nized a de­bate for may­oralty can­di­dates.

The Venue was packed when Mayor Daryl Ben­nett de­bated Diane Ther­rien (coun­cil­lor in Town Ward for the last four years).

Ther­rien is leav­ing a va­cancy in Town Ward, since she’s run­ning for mayor.

On Thurs­day even­ing, the can­di­dates were propos­ing their ideas for projects to in­crease down­town vi­brancy when Rus­sell brought up his idea.

The de­bate cov­ered a wide ar­ray of top­ics: the per­cep­tion that the down­town is un­safe, for ex­am­ple. All said they per­son­ally feel safe down­town, but that the per­cep­tion of it be­ing un­safe is per­sis­tent.

David­son said pan­han­dlers are fright­en­ing to some peo­ple — but ev­ery­one should re­mem­ber that pan­han­dlers them­selves are fear­ful.

“They’re home­less — in pain, and fright­ened,” she said. “Peo­ple who en­counter them are fright­ened by their fear.”

All can­di­dates agreed on the need to pre­serve and pro­tect her­itage build­ings while also adding in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion.

“Ab­so­lutely, yes,” said Dean Pap­pas, for ex­am­ple, while Kemi Akapo men­tioned how the town of Port Hope gets movie shoots pre­cisely be­cause of its her­itage build­ings.

When it came to find­ing more park­ing down­town, Akapo sug­gested park­ing apps that will al­low you to pay for your park­ing with your phone.

Rus­sell sug­gested “dou­bling down on pub­lic trans­porta­tion” and David­son sug­gested a re­turn to street­cars in Peter­bor­ough.

Lan­ci­ault wanted to see more de­vel­op­ers cre­ate un­der­ground park­ing (rather than leas­ing a pub­lic park­ing lot, such as Atria has for the Y lofts).

Re­gard­ing a pro­posed new condo devel­op­ment for Cres­cent St., none of the can­di­dates said they dis­liked the plan from Ash­burn­ham Realty (as re­ported in The Ex­am­iner Thurs­day).

Lan­ci­ault said she lives on Cres­cent St. right next to the pro­posed devel­op­ment — and she likes the plan.

Dean Pap­pas said he liked it too.

“It is in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion, and it is in the down­town — and he’s a good builder,” said Pap­pas, re­fer­ring to de­vel­oper Paul Ben­nett.

He also men­tioned that there will be a re­zon­ing re­quested of city coun­cil and the next coun­cil will also have to con­sider Ben­nett’s pro­posal to close part of Cres­cent St. to traf­fic.

“That will be a pub­lic process.” The elec­tion is Oct. 22.

JOELLE KO­VACH EX­AM­INER

A de­bate was held Thurs­day even­ing at The Venue on Ge­orge St. for can­di­dates run­ning for a seat on coun­cil in Town Ward. Left to right are Jane David­son, Jim Rus­sell, Jenny Lan­ci­ault, Kemi Akapo and Dean Pap­pas (who is run­ning for re-elec­tion).

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