How can we help give the displaced Mac students a better intro to downtown?
The most discouraging part of the Spec article today:
"If there was a silver lining to the Brandon fire, it was the hope that the influx of hundreds of students would inject some life into Hamilton's struggling downtown.
The city has been trying for years to get a university residence downtown and the Brandon fire has been an opportunity for a trial run.
But so far, the students don't seem to be venturing too far into the downtown core.
Phyllis Stefanik, an employee at Druxy's in Jackson Square, said other than one student who asked if they accepted McMaster meal cards, she hasn't noticed any student traffic. The Honest Lawyer, Cheapies and two businesses around the Crowne Plaza -- Sushi Star and Hasty Mart -- all say they haven't noticed an increase of student business.
The only business to confirm that they've noticed a small spike was the Jackson Square LCBO.
The students say they haven't been venturing out downtown because they're afraid.
"It's creepy," Perlman said of her new downtown neighbourhood. "I'm terrified as soon as it gets dark out."
"It's not like downtown Toronto," Fairclough said. "Most of us are pretty timid. A lot of people are worried about the crime in the area.""
Most of us can agree those fears are largely unfounded, and the article likely exaggerates them, but the culture shock for suburban kids moving downtown is real, as is the opportunity to help introduce them to the postiive aspects of downtown living if some initiative is taken.
What can be done to help these Mac kids transition to the downtown, be more exposed to the good things downtown, even begin to like the downtown more? They know about Hess - how do they get exposed to the rest?
What can the government, individuals, businesses, business associations do? Heck, what could we do?
(I am glad to see that most of them aren't using their ridiculous $200 weekly cab allowance for cabs because they feel THAT unsafe, though.)