There has been, quite literally, a great divide in the citizens of Belleville and their concerns over the Build Belleville project. Some side with the "leave it alone" attitude which is worrisome because we are a growing city with a fragile and dated infrastructure that needs repairs and upgrades to support growth and avoid a continued infrastructure deficit in the futute. Some think the project has promise but that there is too much influence from private investors and not enough from city planners. Some feel it is great and we should jump in head-first. Some want to go big or go home. Other citizens want the project scaled back significantly. I am sure there are many more points of view out there. I call it a great divide because the comments section of the local Intelligencer on any article mentioning Build Belleville is rife with heated arguments for BB, against BB, and every position in between and these people aren't afraid to share how they feel. In my opinion, I think it is promising to see so many citizens that want change, and I can't blame a single one of them for wanting what they think is best for our city. I would never discourage someone from participating in the discussion, but if I could encourage one thing, I would love to see everyone have an open mind to all points of view. I suppose it is possible that not everyone will be pleased with the end result. I gather some would love for all of this talk of upgrades in infrastructure to go away, calling the proposed spending "a reckless waste of taxpayer's money" and they ask their council if the spending and borrowing will bankrupt our city. I always counter this question with "what happens if we don't make the necessary upgrades?". Sewer collapses, crumbling streets, and businesses pack up and leave our city because we can't get them the municiple services they are paying for (example: Water) and people lose their jobs as a result. What then? Do you get an oil change on your car when you hit 5000kms, or do you wait until your engine blows before you address the concerns? A preventative measure is much less financially reckless than an avoidance one, in my own opinion.
Let's put our differences in opinion aside for a moment, and take a look a WHY the Build Belleville proposed work is great. The project proposes drastic, some of them necessary changes in our downtown core and its infrastructure in order for us to support our current citenzens and also make room for growth. I shall spare you the details to avoid the risk of misquoting, but can we all just be greatful that there are private investors that are actually interested in pumping capital into our core? The mere fact that this interest exists is an enormous step forward for our (not so) little city. This sort of interest is evidence that the downtown we have been fighting for is the sleeping giant we all want it to be.