Fantastic news today from the Wine Council of Ontario – beginning (hopefully) in 2012, the Wine Route will be running through downtown St. Catharines. The Burgoyne Bridge replacement project may cause some delay, but the bottom line is we need to start planning for this immediately.
This dovetails nicely with the article from last month in the Standard, highlighting the improvements and revitalization that is taking place the St. Paul St. area. The Creative Cluster Master Plan is a good, solid document – a real path forward for downtown. The next Council needs to take the lead in pushing forward with the recommendations that have not been fully implemented yet – a definitive marketing plan, continued greening and streetscape improvements (with a greater push to take advantage of the streetscape improvement grants), and a continuation and enhancement of incentives to entrepreneurs.
Let’s find a way to get a Wine Museum built. Not with taxpayer dollars, obviously – but why not approach the various wineries and the LCBO about building a Wine Superstore that incorporates all of the best that the Niagara region’s wineries have to offer? Rather than simply being A stop on the route, why not work towards becoming THE stop on the Wine Route?
There is a vocal minority who think we should cut our losses, that downtown will never be revitalized, that tourism will never be a viable part of our city’s economy. I am not in that camp, and I refuse to let the naysayers have their way. We need to keep striving to show off what we have, and this development is a huge step in the right direction. With the introduction of the wine route, the development of the performing arts centre and the possibility of building a wine museum/Niagara winery superstore, we have an opportunity to turn downtown St. Catharines into the cultural centre of Niagara.
Let’s do it.