Please note an earlier post of this post somehow “published” an earlier version – I don’t know how. Hopefully this version – not terribly different – but different enough -will be what publishes now 🙂
None of us know when this might happen, but it will, most likely sometime in the next 12 to 18 months. As we live with social-distancing, masks, desire and yet anxiety for returning Acadia students, line ups to enter the grocery store – we all know the drill – I expect we just wish we could go back to the “before-times”. I have listened to discussions and read a number of articles about large urban centres and rural areas. Extensive transit systems are apparently really good germ-spreaders. Highly dense neighbourhoods allow the virus to spread fast and far. On the other hand very rural communities lack reliable internet making online work and learning difficult. I have wondered if there are things we might do to take advantage of the things we are learning?
One of the things that I wished Wolfville had in the years after we closed down our office-based consulting company, and I worked from home while also a councillor, was co-working space for businesses like ours – not a full office but common meeting room, IT help, receptionist who could be there to receive deliveries etc. In my first time as the Council representative to the WBDC the then President and I often chatted about how great that would be. As more and more people find that working from home is quite possible in Wolfville, perhaps an attraction to so-called footloose industries and businesses, would be such a space.
Not everyone, even in Wolfville, has access to good internet. The Public Library so important to many, was among the public spaces closed. I have written about our need for a new library before, and will again. The Town was about to bring forward a plan, some time in the making, for a new public library, just as the pandemic closed down much of the Town’s activity. Sufficient to say at this time that as one of the places most important to information access at the best of times, renewed conversations and decisions about the public library must be top of our list of new things to do.
Traffic congestion and bottlenecks (is there any more a Wolfville talking point than the “four-way-stop”) really do need to be addressed. As with so many things the idea that it is time for a traffic light or two has its fans and its critics. A year or two ago a traffic light in lieu of the four-way was in the Town’s capital budget . It may be one of the things we need to address sooner so that our “traffic problem” doesn’t discourage people from coming to Wolfville.
We need to have a real conversation about parking. There are few businesses in Wolfville where the carrying of many large and/or heavy parcels is an issue – the Independent and the Rafuse Home Hardware being the two that come to mind, well maybe at times the NSLC. With the exception of those who have mobility issues, encouraging walking a block or two is the healthy alternative. If good accessible parking for those who can’t walk far, as well as parking for the type of business noted, we could make our Main Street safer for cyclists and walkers – whether trying to social distance or have a meal outside without breathing in idling car fumes.
And on the subject of healthy living, finding and preserving ways to go “cross-town” without going down or up town would, I am sure, encourage more walking and cycling for transportation. Until this year I lived “up” Gaspereau. I now live just off Main. Walking up the hill the other evening I found I had lost some of my “hill legs”. It is very understandable that walking up or down our north-south Avenues to get downtown, even when the few blocks downtown are not a huge issue, makes one take the car more than they otherwise might. I understand that even with cross-town trails you are trying to get up or down town, it is just much easier if the way is shaded and pleasant and is not all up or all down. I would like to see more east west paths and trails to encourage healthy living behaviors.
What other infrastructure or initiatives residents and businesses think would help our livability and economic attractiveness in the post-covid world that is sure to come, so that we can take advantage of what we have learned about what type of town we need.
Happy to hear you are encouraging the discussion of parking and traffic in the context of encouraging the continuance of a healthy Main Street. As you know, I favour making more parking on Front Street and developing the rail trail as a road and trail to divert heavy east-west traffic off Main Street. That would encourage the livability and development of the heart of our community.
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