Volume 93, Issue 32

Wednesday, October 27, 1999


NEWS

Officer's salary to top USC's agenda

Western reviews admin posts

Olympic park gets federal support

$6 million and counting for brand new stadium

Downtown lights, cameras in stalled for increased safety

Downtown makeover committee unveiled

Briefs

Caught on campus

Downtown makeover committee unveiled



By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

City officials are hoping a recently appointed band of experts can come together and orchestrate London out of its downtown economic blues.

With a mandate to spark increased economic activity into London's downtown core, the Main Street Program, formally appointed 12 members to a volunteer panel, called the Main Street Working Committee, on Monday. The move comes on the heels of the recent Covent Garden Market opening and is meant to add more power to the downtown spotlight, said Ward 2 councillor Joe Swan.

"It's getting the ball rolling," said Swan, who is also chair of the Downtown Millennium Planning Committee. He said the group's main focus would be to retain and attract businesses to the downtown core as well as to spruce up Dundas Street. "We'll try to bring in some night life," he said.

Lindsey Elwood, chair of the London Downtown Business Association, said the 12 members were selected from a pool of 40 applicants. Those who made the cut represent a cross-section of backgrounds. "We were looking for experience that lends itself to requirements of the program such as promotions, fundraising, marketing and design," he said.

Elwood added the program would eventually run at a cost of approximately $235,000 a year once it was functional. Two hundred thousand dollars would be covered by the LDBA and another $100,000 would be donated by the city.

Swan said although revitalizing the downtown area was a long-term project, the new committee would have to come out of the blocks quickly. "My guess is some of the first things they'll do will be to look for office space downtown to renovate and call home. Physical changes are probably the best bet," he said. "They do need some tangible results."

Sandi Caplan, owner of Novack's, a downtown outdoor apparel shop and committee member, said the team's greatest asset is its differing perspectives. "The committee itself is very diverse. None of us know each other, other than [through] our accountability to the LDBA," she said.

"Our challenges are to get to know each other and convince people that we're a working committee," Caplan said, adding the group would meet today to appoint a chair and map out immediate concerns.

"I think progress is the fact we got this committee together," said Rita Gardiner, associate director of development of the Grand Theatre and another committee member. "I mean, this is the first step."

Christopher Guard, manager of Dr. Disc, a CD shop on Clarence Street, said two summers ago there seemed to be a conscious effort being made to clean up the downtown core, however the initiative appeared to have fizzled out over the last summer. "There is no doubt the downtown area could use some spit and polish."


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Copyright The Gazette 1999