Business As Unusual

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Remember all the outcry over the proliferation of election signs around town and how much an eyesore they were during the 2014 municipal election?

It appears there isn’t anywhere close to same concern when it comes to for-lease signs, particularly the ones that appear to be exploding in numbers along the Yonge Street stretch.

You can’t walk two doors without encountering businesses that have either simply shriveled up and died (Johnathan’s, Edward Street Bistro,  Badali’s, Vibe Salon & Spa, The Greenhouse, RoCoCo Designer’s outlet…) or others that have moved to higher ground ( Hallmark Cards, RBC, Elmwood Brides, Aurora Fine Foods..)

Each one of these storefronts showcases wasted opportunities to build and grow the town’s businesses and the community.  In fact Mayor Dawe’s exact words in his campaign advertisement that ran on on page 8 of the October 5th, 2010 edition of The Auroran were:

Unlike our outgoing Mayor, when I see “empty storefronts” I see wasted opportunities to build and grow our businesses and our community. I see an urgent need to take action.

For someone who recognized such an urgent need to take action, one has to wonder why over the 5 years Dawe has been Mayor that empty storefronts are growing, not filling.

Canadian Tire has recently completed its move east to Baview providing another large vacant building in the south, and the signs on the door of the CIBC in the downtown core say it is moving in October.

Back in February Mayor Dawe made the claim that the town is “actively trying to attract new businesses“.

Dawe then goes on to explain what constitutes action:

“In order for the town to provide the support and help local businesses grow, we need to have a solid strategic plan,” he said, holding a rolled-up copy of the 2016 Aurora Living guide in his hands. “We have created a strong, stable local economy base to foster growth and nurture new and existing businesses in Aurora.”

A total reversal from the definition he campaigned on.  Let’s look at that same ad shall we:

This Mayor and Council have trumpeted the “Plans” they have passed and “Studies” they have supported – but plans aren’t action.  Studies aren’t initiatives.  We don’t need more paper sitting on shelves.  Where are the actual accomplishments?

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If the Town of Aurora possesses the “strong, stable local economy base to foster growth and nurture new and existing businesses in Aurora” that Dawe claims then these vacant storefronts would have turned over in 6 months instead of smoldering, some now for years.

 

Are we better off today than 4 years ago?

Perhaps if the town had taken action on tracking street level vacancy rates we’d be able to determine the rate of success the town has had, or lackthereof.

Hamilton began tracking vacancies in storefront commercial and office units in 2010 

In a 2011 report titled State of the Downtown 2011 report titled State of the Downtown the city of London addressed Street Level Vacancy Rates on page 5:

Vacant ground level floor space creates “dead spaces” in streetscapes and can significantly diminish the overall attractiveness of the area, especially when vacancies are concentrated within a specific area. Tracking vacant ground floor space not only helps identify the problem areas, it helps recognize opportunities for the revitalization of particular areas throughout the Downtown.

Another tool London implemented in 2009 was a By-law to Regulate Vacant Buildings .

Welland passed a similar Vacant Building By-law in 2011 and Brantford passed a Vacant Building Registry Bylaw this year

These are all examples of municipalities taking action, where here in Aurora under Dawe’s leadership Business continues to roll along as usual.

The warning signs all point to a climate that is anything but.

 

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