I believe that every leader should travel before they assume the mantle. They don’t have to travel far, but they do need to experience something new, see somewhere new, in order to fully appreciate where they come from. In Brampton’s case, one only has to travel to Toronto to understand why it is that we struggle to build an engaging “Downtown” core at the intersection of Main and Queen streets, lovingly known as Four Corners.
As pictured above, the Four Corners is not a large area. Some may argue with the exact boundaries I have chosen, some may argue I should include some area north of the tracks, but I maintain it simply doesn’t matter. As illustrated, the reality is, the Four Corners area of Brampton is not bigger than Kensington Market. And when you have that perspective, a few things become very clear.
First: Four Corners is not a Downtown. Not Yet. And maybe it never will be. Maybe it will always be what it is today: our historical district doing double duty as our primary commercial district, full of banks, accountants, lawyers and other professionals. Every city needs a business district. Every city benefits from a historic district. Maybe, just maybe, Four Corners doesn’t need to pull triple/quadruple/quintuple duty as our Academic/ Entertainment/Nightlife/Daytime Coffee Cafe/Wedding/Funeral/Transit & Mobility district as well.
To be all things to all people, there needs to be room to grow outward. Four Corners is limited in all directions but East by geographic and economic barriers to redevelopment.
Second: for all of what may seem to be my criticsms, I openly applaud the Four Corners. It is an area that punches well above its weight class. It has done a Fantastic job of becoming an area that homes many businesses, restaurants, retail locations and events. It has begun a legacy that can be built upon to grow the area and bring even more diversity of businesses and attractions, if managed properly.
And that is the overall take-away of this comparison: Reasonable Expectations.
The Four Corners is not large enough to house a University, not the one that people imagine when they say University, anyway. Remember: Four Corners already has a University. Clearly, that’s not what people have in mind. But it is large enough to house our version of the St. Lawrence Market, or the Covent Garden market in London, Ontario, pictured below. Projects that are reasonable in terms of scope, cost, and size, that will have a positive economic benefit to the area and to Brampton residents.
Reasonable Expectations are the key to Brampton’s future. Because maybe Kensington Market wouldn’t have been the right place to build the ACC, the Skydome, the City Hall, the CN Tower, Union Station, the Distillery District, and the ROM. That doesn’t mean that Toronto doesn’t benefit from having Kensington Market on the map, quite the contrary.
If we understand what we are actually working with, and with a little perspective and some reasonable expectations, we can build upon the successes already found in the Four Corners. #MayorJackson2018 will work to bring an indoor market to Four Corners, grow the core outwards, bring in infill gentrification projects, improve the walkability of the entire area between the ravine and Memorial Arena, and will guide the whole City towards growth and development in all corners of our city.