(1) Don’t forget the kids
The Williamsville neighbourhoods north and south of Princess are an eclectic mix of long-time residents, families many with young and school aged children, artists and students. There are several significant and thriving elementery schools and daycares in this community including Rideau Public School with nearly 500 students and Martello Independent School in the Princess Street United Church. Many local children walk or ride their bikes to school including many families that must cross Princess Street dodging traffic and cutting through abandones lots to get back and forth to school. Development plans that incorporate safe and attractive pedestrian crossings and routes would be a great asset in a plan for the neighbourhood and could involve local residents in renewal. I think the City Repair Project in Portland Oregon and community involvement in redesigning intersections is an interesting example. Here is a link to their website for your interest.
I think there are also opportunities for dealing creatively with traffic congestion and parking along Albert Street between Princess Street and Mack as parents dropping off and picking up children at the local day care centre and an independent elementery school. Also economic development opportunites along Princess Street that address the needs of local families as well as students would have a greater opportunity for success, especially as many people in this community walk to local shops and have one car or no car.
(2) Keep bikes in Mind
Many residents of all ages use Princess Street to commute to work and school. It is often a perilous trip especially with younger riders as there are no alternatives to using Princess for at least part of the trip and the street offers no bike lanes, markings or adequate shoulders. Including bike lanes and incorporating a safe bike route to downtown through the central core would make biking safer and encourage more people to use their bikes.
(3) Remember Williamsville’s Assets and History
There are some great public facilities in our community the Menmorial Centre arena, pool and grounds being one and Victoria Park being another. In terms of the Memorial Centre, including pedestrian friendly corridors guiding users from Princess Street and Concession Street and improved signage would be assets.
I think revitalizing the area also offers an opportunity to celebrate Williamsville’s Franco-Ontarian heritage. Frontenac Street north of Princess is home to the city’s french catholic church St. Francois d’Assis that will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary and was the first home of the region’s french cultural Centre culturel Frontenac. Just south of Princess Rideau Public School offers a thriving French Immerssion Program. I believe these assets suggest opportunities for economic and community development that reflect an appreciation of French language and culture.
(4) Harness the Energy of Local Residents in Planning for Renewal
Williamsville residents are keen to be involved in discussions and plans for improving our community. Local residents have ideas, energy and enthusiasm that will all be great assets in undertaking the renewal of an area, such as the Princess Street corridor that is sliding into decay.
Thank you for your attention to our neighbourhood. I know from speaking with many friends and neighbours this morning that many other residents are also very excited about the project and keen to participate. If you would like to discuss these ideas or any further, please leave comments below.