'Some commercialization' said to be needed on riverfront

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

CBC News

Sandra Pupatello, CEO of the economic development corporation wants beach, food, cafes

The head of the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation would like to see more commercial development along Windsor’s riverfront.

Sandra Pupatello told CBC News she would also like to see the city allow private businesses to set up shop as long as the city “sets the rules.”

“You don’t want to turn the whole thing into some kind of circus. But I do believe there are pockets there where it’s reasonable to want some kind of commercialization,” Pupatello told CBC Windsor’s Tony Doucette on Windsor Morning.

The nearly six kilometres of waterfront extends from Peter Street in west Windsor to Hiram Walker.

“Food and drink is always terrific. We could really use places for people to stop and buy coffee,” Pupatello said. “With the appropriate rules and regulations, people can do it right.”

In the past, Mayor Eddie Francis has pitched a canal. More recently, he revived a plan for a new marina. A new marina was first suggested in the Central Riverfront Implementation Plan developed for council 13 years ago.

“I was one of those that thought when the notion of the canal was advanced, it was a fantastic idea. It was something people would talk about. It would add that special something to our downtown,” Pupatello said.

Pupatello also suggested artisans, street vendors and fish and chip trucks, which are popular under the Bluewater Bridge in Sarnia, be allowed to open along Windsor’s riverfront.

“I’m not suggesting that tomorrow we have 100 fish and chip trucks show up. But it would be nice to have a real mix,” she said.

Food trucks in Windsor face several restrictions. Only one currently operates on the riverfront, near the Odette Sculpture Gardens.

“If you’re going on the riverfront and someone has rented the space for a festival … they may not appreciate a food truck being set up,” Coun. Fulvio Valentinis previously told CBC News.

Pupatello said rules and regulations can be changed.

“Sometimes we overcomplicate things by having all these rules.  There’s nothing wrong with some pilots and if it doesn’t work, we change it,” she said.

Pupatello said the city should be marketing itself to a younger demographic. She thinks a beach would be a hit.

“We’re developing downtown with the university and college so you have young people, they gravitate to the beach,” Pupatello said.

There is a beach in Toronto. Pupatello, who spends time there, said it’s popular.

“They walk out at lunch time and people take off their shoes and suits and walk in the sand,” Pupatello said.

With our longer summers, she said Windsor should consider adding sand to the waterfront.

Public meetings in each of the 10 wards to get people's views on the Central Riverfront Implementation Plan begin next month.

Your Say

CBC Windsor is hosting a town hall Wed., Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Old Walkerville Theatre.

A panel of experts will debate the development of Windsor's riverfront, answer your questions and address your concerns and ideas about development.

Join them for free and have your say.