Apr 20


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BRT Effect on Business and Live Music Venues in the Core

Will Live Music survive BRT

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So this coming Tuesday, the next round of discussion in the BRT debate goes to the next level. The proponents of this elaborate and expensive scheme are giddy that the Province and Feds are willing to start throwing tax-payer money at this debacle – nothing buys votes for a failing political party like throwing money at something that is glitzy and lavish. As SHIFT and DOWN SHIFT face off like two rugby teams about to engage in all out war, I’ve noticed that people are beginning to open their eyes to all of this and talk about it more. I heard two patrons who were discussing about simply building a Las Vegas type parking structure to eliminate the ridiculous lack of downtown parking – funny how two guys drinking beer had more business sense than those running the city. Frequent editorials in the local Freeps take both sides of the fence in this complex scenario – but if the editorials are accurate in facts and common sense, one can only take away the mindset that this is something that needs to be stopped in its tracks (no pun intended) before it goes to the next level. Case in point: the gentleman that owns the Marienbad Restaurant has got to be one of the shrewdest businessmen in the city – I have both huge respect for the man and utmost sympathy for him in his present plight. Carling Street is an apocalyptic nightmare with construction of the new Fanshawe Campus where Kingsmills once was, how he has managed to deal with the noise, dirt and lost business due to that carnage is beyond me – and Summer of 2017 is coming so how much more will it affect his bottom line and none of it will be compensated to him for lost revenue by the City or Fanshawe College – even though it’s not his fault. Fast forward to the BRT and the gutting of downtown London. Merchants led by Mike Smith are rightfully so, concerned about the huge financial hit they are going to take from all the construction interfering with their business. A lot of customers use their cars – oh goodness, that swear word in this politically correct abyss we now find ourselves immersed in socially – to get to places of business in the core be it for business reasons, entertainment or any foundation of reasons we go downtown. Is the city prepared to financially compensate every single business that will see their monthly gross revenue be affected? And remember, this will take years to complete, it’s not going to be done in one summer – so how long can these business take a hit for years to come before they just close their doors. It’s not their fault the city fell 30 years behind 40 years ago so why should they have their business put in jeopardy – it’s their lives and those of their families wrapped up and at risk by all of this. Those of us that prefer the convenience of our vehicles that we bought with our own money, insure with our own money, buy ridiculous plates and stickers for with our own money and keep the required maintenance with our own money – are now being told that we should just climb on a bus…….are you serious? And the whole deceptive spin of it costing $530,000,000.00 – who are they kidding, what imbecile would buy this as fact? Anytime government at any level gets involved with something it NEVER comes in on budget – this entire fiasco will balloon over the billion dollar mark in the blink of an eye so don’t kid yourself, and who is going to pay for that? Then I’ve heard the remarks from people discussing all of this that concerns me the most. “Well if the city makes it any harder for me to go downtown then it is already with no parking, and now they are going to rip all the roads up, I just won’t go see live music downtown anymore.” This is the one train of thought that has me the most concerned from a personal standpoint, and I’m hearing it more and more from people. Violence in the core or the perception of violence in the core is a very real concern to a lot of people that stops them from going downtown at night. You can argue all you want about this but it’s a fact, get over it and accept it. I’ve often wondered why there isn’t more foot cops in downtown London after 10pm at night, but hey, someone somewhere would probably dictate to them how to do their jobs in these precious politically sensitive times so maybe they just figure that it’s not worth being there. Regardless, people ARE afraid of downtown London as it is, so now we are going to gut the core, rip out parking spots and create enough reasons for people to stay away at a time when we are trying to push live music in this city in “Entertainment Districts” – what contradiction in logic do you see here? You want to go see your favorite band/artist downtown. Well, you can’t park because the city ripped out your streets and all the parking spots that went with them, you don’t want to be hosed at Impark, you can’t get into Galleria parking because the rest of the city is parked in there already, and you have to re-route even as a pedestrian around all the construction taking place and you don’t feel very safe as a lot of business went under due to all the prolonged construction that sabotaged their once successful business and the streets are desolate now. You cope with all of this to arrive at the watering hole of choice to find out that they no longer have live music because the drop in business has hurt them financially and now instead they have a parrot who sings if you throw him some stale popcorn. It’ll be interesting how this drags out, make no mistake the city IS going to do this, that’s already been decided by them – what is to be determined is the downtown core that you know now, what will be left in 10 years? And remember, everyone with business sense said Galleria would suck the life out of downtown London and storefronts would be empty and the politicians said that wouldn’t be the case – how did that turn out?