Brampton has a lot to be proud of. But there is another side of Brampton too. There are tired properties, empty lots, abandoned facilities. There is rot in the City. Areas with no activity, no development, and seemingly, no plan in place to attract investment. This can seemingly be contrasted with the Four Corners, or “Downtown Brampton” as our city leaders and planning department like to think of it. Since 1991, Four Corners has seen tax dollars invested in:
- a New City Hall
- The Southwest Quadrant City Hall expansion
- The Rose Theatre (with annual subsidies)
- Downtown Development Corporation
- Downtown BIA (Business Improvement Area)
- Garden Square
- Garden Square Media Screen
- Arts Walk of Fame
- George Street Parking Garage
- Numerous Facade Improvement Programs
- Multiple GO Station upgrades
- Rosalea Park makeover
- Cultural Events such as Farmer’s Market, Santa Clause Parade, Christmas Market, etc.
In addition, the Four Corners is also seemingly “up next” for the next few rounds of investment: LRT Terminus station (pending route determination), Riverwalk (flood channel remediation), the Lane Realignments and parking removal project (name unknown), and just announced, the University of Ryerson & Sheridan Campus with associated Research and Innovation Centre. These investments will be hundreds of millions of dollars in the making. Meanwhile, areas such as Kennedy Road, McLaughlin Road, seem to receive no attention, no investment and there is very little in the way of publicly known plans for the future development or redevelopment of these areas.
So we are travelling the city, documenting the forgotten areas, the places “under the couch”, in the corners and the spots where the vacuums never seem to reach. Every location pictured is in public view, and no photos were taken through any act of trespass. We will try to capture the struggle of residents, business and land owners in the City, to show that people are running their lives and businesses and making the best of what is available to them.
In four years time, September of 2021, we will return to these locations, to assess the impact of the City’s policies. To determine if, in fact, the Game has been Changed, the Status Quo Disrupted.
The government can’t do everything, and it isn’t suggested that it should try. However, the government is in charge of planning, zoning, property standards, and tax policy. These tools are supposed to be used to increase the likelihood of success for residents and businesses alike. Areas can suffer for any number of reasons. And there is no attempt to diagnose why an area may be struggling. We just know that they are, and we hope the administration can adopt policies that encourage growth, prosperity and maximize the chances of success. By setting the conditions for prosperity, the government can shape the behaviour of private enterprise and investment, which in turn drives prosperity.
Are the investments in Downtown described above encouraging investment and development? By attempting to capture and measure, on the ground, the impact of its policies and the changes being made, we can have an honest, transparent discussion about the experiment that has been “Building a Downtown inside a Flooding zone, where two arterial roads meet and creating two bottlenecks therein, in the centre of an historical, previously fully developed, residential neighbourhood,” and we can decide if we are receiving a return on our investment.
We begin, however, with the Downtown, to look at thenlroverbial scoreboard early in the game, to how our investments have driven developments so far in the proverbial ground zero over the last twenty years of municipal policy.
Kennedy Road South
As one the alternative routes for the LRT running from Port Credit to the Brampton GO Station, there is a lot to be gained from a large scale rapid transit system that has historically and reliably encouraged investments within an 800 meter radius of the route.
Queen Street / Central Area Corridor
There is an ongoing transit study in this area. Queen Street is the highest route for transit ridership. There are many redevelopment applications currently being processed through the City. As the defined Central Area for our City, Queen Street narrows from 6 lanes at the 410 down to 2 lanes in Four Corners. An area with high traffic management needs on top of being the centre of the City (geography wise) certainly represents a balancing act for our city leadership to contend with.
McLaughlin Road North
McLaughlin is another potential road for our LRT from Port Credit. The former OPP lands have seen development and investment clustered around Queen Street. But the zoning along McLaughlin contemplates a number of mixed uses north of Queen Street, and in fact, north of where the LRT route would possible travel. Maximizing investment in the employment lands near the rail tracks would assist in elevating incomes and increasing standards of living for our residents.
Hurontario / Main Street
North of our downtown, Hurontario Street, Main Street and Highway 10 (all the same road) carries the mixed use zoning all the way north of Mayfield Road. Diverse uses for retail, professional offices, industrial, agriculture, all exist on this road. Is there a plan for this vital employment region? This route runs parallel to the Etobicoke Creek Trail. Is there a plan for this environmentally sensitive area to integrate it with our cultural and lifestyle expectation? Can we exploit and build upon the potential along this route?
Our East West link from Georgetown to Vaughan is a commuter’s nightmare. But like Main Street/Hurontario, it has a lot of employment lands along its length, and is the cornerstone for many residents to earn a living. One would be tempted to believe that the shear volume of traffic at Highway 10 and Bovaird would lend itself to a vibrant business and residential community. The area is a less than impressive, as though it has never decided if it is an industrial section, retail destination or residential neighbourhood. The area certainly doesn’t look as though it has been planned, zoned or thought about other than in the most piecemeal of fashions. Will a “Downtown” with a University bring sensible order to the area? Will the intersection receive the makeover that it desperately needs, with the empty lots being repurposed in a way that brings order to the chaos?