Approximately 70 people were in attendance for the town ward debate, in which candidates ‘sparred’ on several issues facing the downtown core.
On the five questions asked by Downtown Business Improvement Association (DBIA) moderators, every candidate agreed with one another, surprisingly.
All candidates were in attendance: Jason Stabler, Jim Hendry, Diane Therrien, and incumbent councillors Dean Pappas and Bill Juby.
In sequence, these questions were addressed: job creation, the Louis Lot proposal, downtown as a cultural hub for the city, and partnerships with Trent University and Fleming College.
Each candidate agreed that these were important issues or projects, but thankfully there was some difference in how they proposed to achieve results.
For job creation, the candidates agreed that the role of the city should be to support the infrastructure for business.
Hendry would like to see a revitalization of the municipal fund for promoting apartment creation in the downtown core.
Therrien would like to see the city assist small business owners with building upgrades.
Pappas would have Trent extend their campus downtown for a number of programs.
Stabler suggested that “developers like rules”, so the city’s role should be to impose those rules.
Juby vaguely put forward the idea that the city should provide amenities that make downtown attractive to developers.
The Louis Lot is the parking lot where the weekly Wednesday Farmer’s Market takes place on Charlotte St. It has been proposed that this lot be converted into an urban park/city square.
All candidates were in agreement that this project should move forward.
Therrien would add a children’s play structure to the plans.
Stabler suggested that some money allocated to the Parkway Corridor development should be reassigned to this project.
Hendry would like to see the project moved up in the schedule possibly with funds reallocated from the maintenance budget for Morrow Park.
The candidates responded positively to the suggestion that the downtown become a hub for arts and culture in the city.
Pappas stated that the Municipal Cultural Plan (MCP) (available online) needs to be supported by the city through zoning.
Stabler supports initiatives to bring the Canoe Museum and Art Gallery of Peterborough (AGP) brought to the downtown core into prominent buildings.
Juby supported the idea of bringing art institutions downtown, but was critical of proposals that would see buildings used which are not for sale.
Hendry thought that the AGP was fine in its location by Little Lake, but could be made accessible with improvements to Millennium Trail.
Finally, the DBIA moderators suggested that greater partnerships with the local post-secondary institutions, Trent University and Fleming College, could stimulate downtown growth.
Stabler supported this idea, but would see that Peterborough streetscapes remain intact. Juby suggested bringing business students downtown and setting up internships with local businesses. Hendry suggested that the Centre for Healthy Aging among other programs would be benefitted and beneficial to downtown. Therrien supported the idea of bringing more Trent programs downtown as well, while Traill College currently does not have the numbers desired for this goal. Pappas suggested that Trent and Fleming use the old PCVS building for its lecture hall and potential student spaces.
The evening was cordial and, despite an abysmal student presence, matters of the university arose frequently.
Town Ward is home to a large student population, making it key for candidates to address such questions.
The municipal election is being held on October 27, but online voting opens on October 14. Trent students who are Canadian citizens and living in the city are eligible to vote, but must register ahead of time online.