I believe it was US President Ronald Reagan who once said “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ “
Regardless if she believes this or not It didn’t take long to see how this is obviously not true.
It only takes a few for a pattern to materialize. There are several, all sitting empty. Mr. Evan’s presentation crystallized what is being heard about the community but is not addressed by our council. The remaining business are looking for answers and they are met with little but plastic smiles and assurances that the town is taking the downtown core seriously, and doing everything they can. The exact opposite is true and this is of course very worrisome. So what did the mayor have to say? Well in her usual fashion she used several words to say very little. Here are a few gems: First she tried some excuses: “Empty storefronts happen in other towns” So what? No one cares what is happening in other towns. It hasn’t happened in Newmarket our closest neighbor. Why is it happening here? Then there’s of course she played the economic card “the largest economic downturn in countries history” Which somehow only impacted on Aurora’s downtown core. Whatever. Why are we seeing Aurora’s business expansion with Longos, Wallmarts, SuperCenters over on Leslie & Baview but a decline in business on Yonge St. specificaly in the downtown core? And then there’s an absurd tangent our mayor goes down when she says “I met with a merchant that wants to stay in Aurora”. So why don’t they? What could you, or the town have done to facilitate this? What should have been done? The mayor continued to deflect the current issue to one about long term planning, about how Aurora is at the planning stage, and the plan is large and comprehensive. The question remains. What is the town doing in the short term? Obviously nothing. Mr. Evans pointed out that the town’s “Business retention” meeting last Sept 28th only had one person in attendance, himself. In fact when asked if he wanted to continue with the meeting he said yes, but they declined to hold the meeting due to low attendance. Does that sound like a town that is listening to its businesses? The mayor did say that they held other meetings which were attended, but these were to do with the downtown core, these are different in scope from business retention and expansion. The 2009 Year of Business Initiative couldn’t have been more of a joke, check out the blurb on the town website here: http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/aurora/index.aspx?ArticleID=2949&lang=en-CA You can download an read the strategy which is thin and not applied.
The Economic Development website is a joke, I’ve spoken about it in greater length in previous blog posts. What was interesting is the Mayor’s quote on this page: “by focusing our Economic Development efforts on revitalization, retention and education initiatives, the Town can help create and retain local jobs by providing a supportive business environment.” I guess that just didn’t apply to the downtown core. Being in the hardware business Mr. Evans inquired if an impact study was conducted on the new Rona coming to Aurora over on Leslie. The answer: there was none. Is TrueValue the next to go? I wouldn’t be surprised. Aurora has turned itself to the east of town and by doing so turned it’s back to the downtown core. One wonders if this is some kind of brain dead attempt to reduce the demand on parking in the downtown core. Because if it is, it’s working. Pretty soon it won’t be a problem to find a parking place…..except for all those pesky tumbleweeds.