Character is a journey, not a destination

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Back in February the Banner covered the annual snoozefest that is the Aurora Chamber of Commerce’s mayor’s luncheon.

Last year the substance was so lacking, and the Mayor’s talk so uninspiring that the coverage focused on the tablecloths and napkins.

This year Mayor La-De-Dawe contorted a cliche to proclaim “it takes a town to support our businesses.”

Conversely, it takes a mayor to support our businesses, which if you remember mayor Dawe campaigned on, promising leadership and action:

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.

He has delivered neither.

The Banner piece advances a Q and A exchange between the mayor and the Chamber.

Q: How can the town reduce commercial vacancies along Yonge Street?

A: Yonge Street is destination shopping. Shoppers are going there for a specific reason.

Destination shopping is a concept in the retail industry related to stores, malls and outlet centers. Destination shopping is different than regular, casual shopping; when engaging in destination shopping, customers will plan a trip to a retail center in order to spend a number of hours there as entertainment, rather than simply the act of purchasing goods.

Just how much of a shopping destination is Yonge street?  And for whom?

What are the attractors that drive shoppers to downtown Yonge Street?

How many hours are spent as entertainment, rather than simply purchasing goods?

Early this term La-De-Dawe tabled a cobbled together plan to put temporary patios along the dowtown stretch.

Patios make sense when you have businesses that are destinations but the disconnect is obvious when the locations of these temporary patios were proposed for placement infront of businesses that are anything but destinations:

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Businesses along the downtown core are a mix of accountants, lawyers, medical and real-estate offices which all open after 9AM and are closed before 7PM.

The only location that makes logical sense for a patio is #1 except Aw Shucks has ample patio space built into its business including a large one on its roof.   Why would patrons opt to sit out at street level when the action is inside?

Moving on, the Mayor’s answer includes “The focus should be destination businesses.”

Absoluetly, it is in the all the plans that were recently trumped out as serving in place of a Downtown revitalization plan.  So the question is if the town has all these plans, why has it lost focus under Mayor Dawe’s leadership, which he campaigned on by saying:

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?

Instead of action Dawe offered this shoulder shrug of a response: “The town should be working with the business community, looking at their business plan and suggesting this might not fit here, try this area instead.”

That’s two “should be”‘s in one response for those keeping track.

The town has planning and long term strategic staff tasked with this, so when the Mayor offers the example “What doesn’t do well, is something like a karate shop.” one has to wonder why an ice cream shop chose to open on Baview and not in the shopping destination of downtown Aurora.

Yonge Street in Aurora isn’t destination shopping.  When new businesses come to Aurora they are more than capable of recognizing a fit for their business plans, and Yonge Street is obviously not it.

In the same Q & A Mayor Dawe contradicts the entire notion of downtown Aurora being a shopping destination when referencing a Jane Jacobs quote from The Death and Life of Great American Cities:

“You can’t rely on bringing people downtown; you have to put them there.”

You mean put people where there are significant unresolved traffic issues, a hostile environment for pedestrians and bikes, where there are real (not perceived) parking problems, efforts are made to divert traffic from the downtown core to Industrial Parkway.

I’ve heard the mayor himself proclaim he avoids the Yonge & Wellington intersection adding even more irony to the adage that you often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it.

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