- by Rob Leonard

With so many people calling for more big box retail, more restaurants and more stores to open in a mall when the traditional mall model is a thing of the past, Owen Sound needs to be looking elsewhere.

The food court is empty because the mall doesn't attract enough people.

Owen Sound needs to take a long hard look at itself and accept the fact that the decision was made a long time ago to be a retirement town. Unless you're on a 400 series highway you can forget trying to attract any industry big or small.

Start looking at "what does Owen Sound have to offer" to build a future.

The waterfront is one of the biggest assets but yet the area from the Bayshore north remains undeveloped. Kelso could use a face-lift and create a destination for tourists year round. Trails connecting to the old rail line, skating trails in the winter ...

Start investing in and enhancing what is already there. It's a beautiful city with so much to offer if it was better managed.

I'm a born and raised Owen Sound boy and moved to Orillia five years ago. Let's take a look at their waterfront on Lake Couchiching for example. There are two major parks that attract thousands of people year round. Couchiching Park has a man-made beach, large gazebo, food vendors, large playground, marina, amphitheatre and other amenities directed at the visitors' needs for a full day of fun and relaxation.

A few kilometers along Atherley/Front Street is Tudhope Park. Again, man-made beach, splash pad, kids playground, walking/biking trail, food vendors and ball diamonds. These are visitor and local attractions, destinations for everyone to enjoy. Kelso Beach would make a perfect Couchiching Park and the undeveloped area would be a perfect Tudhope Park.

The beaches for visitors and locals who can't or don't want to make the trip to Sauble Beach. So much can and should be done to attract visitors and to offer more to the citizens of Owen Sound and surrounding areas.

In both cases visitors to these locations would have to come right into the city instead of bypassing the downtown core. More business for downtown merchants. Where will the money come from? I'm sure the city could find it somewhere. Fundraisers etc ...

My vision includes much more. I believe this needs to be done as a people friendly way to improve life and wellness in the city. Take something already wonderful and make it gorgeous.

Build it and they will come.





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