Editorial Board 1999-2000
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Read all about it
The decision to replace The Bay in Galleria London with the London Central Library is one that has a lot of potential.
In the past couple of years, the City of London has fervently attempted to revitalize the downtown core, adding such features as the new Covent Garden Market and establishing the Mainstreet project, a committee mandated to improving the downtown area.
The library's move costs a sweet $23 million, a huge investment by the city and by all means a commendable one. After all, a library is a public place a place where men, women and children of all ages go every day of the week for very little cost. Businesses around the library will most definitely prosper from the sudden influx of people, especially the ailing retailers still remaining in the mall. Hopefully, the promise of population growth in Galleria will also attract new businesses, looking to cash in on the building's new chance at success.
While the move is promising, the City must also look into other avenues to ensure downtown London will continue to be consumer-friendly to the average citizen. If millions of dollars are going towards a project to move and upgrade, then the City should definitely seize the day and use this opportunity to really spice things up.
For instance, parking is an incredibly important factor. If the City and retailers want to find a place in their bank accounts for citizens' money, then they should be able to find a place for consumers to park their cars.
The hours of retail stores within the Galleria should also be adjusted to fit the needs of the average working person. Shutting down the mall most nights at 6 p.m. is not practical, especially if a library is drawing in potential consumers who will generally and realistically use the library evenings and weekends.
The City has also committed to making downtown streets cleaner and safer with their decision to increase the police presence and install more lighting and surveillance cameras. Now is the time to ensure these initiatives are built upon and not wasted.
To further ensure a safe atmosphere downtown, community organizations, such as the Salvation Army, have done much to offer alternatives to the homeless and street youth. Now is also the time for the City to step up their co-operation with the homeless of London and increase the amount of shelters. Such a move would not only help countless unfortunate people but inevitably create an environment shoppers would find more appealing.
If the City of London wants to improve the downtown core, a full commitment is needed to the entire downtown area. Although plunking a library in a failing mall is a great initiative, it shouldn't be the only one.
It's going to take a real investment by the City and Galleria London owners themselves to remedy the downtown situation and finally begin to demonstrate some promise south of the Masonville area, anyway.