Dear Editor. The Mission Downtown Business Association has every right to be concerned when deja vu 1990’s is facing them directly in the face again. Citizens will recall early 1990’s an impressive Downtown Charatte was developed and many were optimistic Mission would rise out of the ashes of despair and finally commence some Downtown/Waterfront development, two important projects synonymous with progress at last. Add to this initiative the branding component to complement progressive development.
Sadly, the mayor and council of the day did not have the appetite nor apparent vision and competence to demonstrate needed leadership and the project was shelved until recently.
I can recall raising the prospect of eliminating trucks from downtown with our MLA, to propose commencing the much touted bypass and temporary diversion of trucks at Horne. In typical fashion, our MLA dismissed the idea, knowing all, and indicated he was unable to convince MInistry of Transportation of the need and expressed some reservation from Ministry of Environment. But, like the failure to champion the needs of our Mission Hospital he in true party-line dismissed my attempts to cause some action to commence, ending with the cliche, ‘trucks operate best going in a straight line.’ Undaunted I tried to convince our local Engineering & Council to support a bypass but they referred to Province Ministry of Transportation and following a number of email up the hierarchy, they eventually referred me back to Mission Council, typically known as indifference and ‘stall tactics.’
Citizens rejoiced when CRMG commenced a further development plan for Downtown and we were all optimistic, at last, some visionary leadership. The notion of relocating Highway 7 at a $5.8 million cost was deemed foolhardy, but the rest of the conceptual plan displayed merit and some vision. But while right to buy the old Buy-Low store, the notion of a non-tax revenue University or even the low cost lease for IT business was folly, owning the site offered eventual opportunity for visionary development plans. Buying the Canada Post building is a no-brainer as obviously it is a crucial component.
Unfortunately, ineptness and lack of visionary leadership again prevails, as new Council decides to shelve Downtown project which is simply wrongheaded. Indeed, instead of being the purview solely of Council, there needs to be a strong well developed vision, a leadership development group, such as “Downtown Revitalization Action Committee” including informed members of DBA, Chamber, Municipal staff (for Research & Support), Council members (2-3) and equal number of public at-large, to develop projects, who will instead keep positive and progressive planning moving forward, with a measure of urgency, with the plans, momentum and interest that will be serving Citizens and downtown business well, by avoiding procrastination and apparent inept leadership. Given the mayor brings the same 1990’s thinking to the table, and newcomers seemingly do not possess strength of insight & business acumen, the outcome could well be like the 1990’s charatte, being allowed to gather dust until after the next election when a more qualified and visionary leader may hopefully emerge.
Thus, in the strongest possible terms, I suggest the DBA and new council members assertively engage the Mayor and demand action not more delay, in the overall best interests of all Mission Citizens, who can be proud that a new downtown revitalization plan will elicit. Surely all the work commenced, the ten point action plan, that all must be shelved a year or more just awaiting Canada Post plans instead of continuing the assertive work on the remaining eight points or adding additional components, given the $5.8 million exclusion of highway relocation has been determined.
George F. Evens