since amalgamation took place on January 1, 2001, it seems as if the
movement to develop and improve Downtown Sudbury has taken on a new life.
Prior to amalgamation, the six outlying communities could care less about
Downtown Sudbury. They were more interested in developing 'Downtown
Capreol', 'Downtown Lively', 'Downtown Chelmsford', and, yes, 'Downtown
we were governed by Regional Government and had our own Town Council, the
main debate was about whether to put more effort into developing the
commercial area of Val Caron or the area around the Hanmer Valley Shopping
Centre - Library corridor. One of those two sites appeared to be destined
to become "Downtown Valley East".
After amalgamation, however, all efforts to promote development in these two areas, and indeed, in all
of Valley East, were left up to the forces of nature. In other words - it
was the marketplace which would determine where development will happen.
There are some very vocal lobby groups, including the City of Greater
Sudbury, spending a lot of money and energy trying to convince everyone
who will listen of the value of a strong downtown core. People in Valley
East do not completely disagree with all of the rhetoric, however, there
are several major issues to which many local residents take exception.
For example, it has been argued that downtown Sudbury is the city's
historical, cultural and spiritual centre. That may be the case for
"Sudbury", but it is not the case in each of the outlying
communities, many of which can also lay the same claim. There is a proud
tradition in Valley East, which celebrated its Centennial recently. Valley
East, and more specifically, each of the smaller components of Valley
East, namely, Val Caron, Blezard Valley, Val Therese, and Hanmer, each
have their own historic and cultural centres. Long time residents of these
communities are wondering why downtown Sudbury should receive any more
consideration than their own.
A great deal has been invested in developing the core areas of Valley
East and Capreol. In fact, just as much has been invested in these areas
as in Sudbury. It makes no sense to simply abandon the momentum which had
been growing up until five years ago.
Residents of Valley East are
wondering when our local leadership will accept the fact that society has
changed. People no longer want to be downtown. Valley East is the fastest
growing segment of the City of Greater Sudbury. Retail growth is on the
outskirts, around shopping centres where there is free parking and it is
easy to get around. Downtown Sudbury may be fine for government offices
and small retail stores, but the general public has spoken. They would
rather live far away from the downtown Sudbury core, and they would rather
shop far away from the downtown Sudbury core.
Downtown Sudbury will
survive if left on its own. The Hart Department Store has given the retail
sector life in the Rainbow Centre. There are a lot of offices located in
the downtown section. It will do fine, but it certainly does not deserve
the attention it is getting from the City officials.
If the City of
Greater Sudbury is going to grow and prosper in future decades, then we
must help places like Valley East, Capreol, Rayside Balfour, Walden, and
Nickel Centre develop their own identifiable sense of identity. People
coming in to the area accept these as separate communities. They want to
live in these separate and distinct communities.
running in Wards that are contained in the outlying communities, such as
Wards 5, 6 and 7, will have to show constituents that they are going to
support and initiate efforts which will be designed to promote more than
just downtown Sudbury. They are going to have to convince voters that
downtown Valley East and downtown Capreol will also be given a high
priority in the next three years.