A coat of paint won't do much



Mayor David Henderson is seriously tired of being bugged about the old Woolworth's building.

One could sense his exasperation when interviewed, yesterday, about the city's fix-up order to the derelict building's owners.

The main driver of Henderson's irritation seems to be less about the city's inability to get anything done about the building, than about the public's impression the city is doing nothing about the building.

In other words, there are rules to this sort of thing, and we are enforcing them – but we can't enforce tougher rules if they're not there.

“When people are concerned about that building, they should recognize that we are all concerned about that building,” said the mayor.

What Henderson meant by that is: “Dear public, if you are that steamed about that decrepit, chipped-paint fossil on King Street West, don't put pressure on us, put pressure on the owners.”

Some people clearly are.

There is the city's recent order requiring “cosmetic” work on the building. It's a start, but the mayor acknowledges it won't be enough on its own.

“Throwing a coat of paint on it is not going to pretty it up that much,” Henderson told me yesterday.

There is also talk brewing, in some local quarters, about legal action against the owners, although such an option strikes me as both costly and likely ineffective. Big holding companies have big legal budgets, and the fact is the law probably says a coat of paint is enough.

As I've written before, the only way this problem will ever be solved is through economic improvement, leading to development opportunities that bear fruit.

And in the meantime, there is always the opportunity to get Dave Sheridan and his art class to paint a mural over that peeling facade. With the owners preparing to comply with the city's order, now would be a good time.

Maybe this mural could be Aquatarium-themed. Or if we prefer a theme that exists right now, there is always the Farmers' Market.