Whatever Happened to Canalside?

Canal Side - With Bass ProSix weeks ago the hype was so thick you could not avoid it. Now that Bass Pro has decided to move off the Canalside site, there’s nary a word. Canalside got its couple of months of attention, and it’s time to move on.

Though it never was about Canalside, was it?

Was it about the $25 million in corporate welfare subsidized housing that Bass Pro was slated to get? There were few complaints when the state spent millions renovating Walden Avenue to provide better access to the Galleria Mall, or when the Sabres and Bills got their subsidies; aren’t they private corporations? I never understood why the Bass Pro subsidy had anything to do with anything. And since Bass Pro is still slated to get a subsidy about which few are complaining anymore, it must not be that.

Was it about mis-placement of a non-historical building in a historically significant area? I think not, because the only buildings of historical significance in the Canal District were taverns and whorehouses; and it is not likely that any new businesses that actually manage to spring up on Canalside will be taverns or whorehouses.

Was it about providing pressure to perhaps take down the Skyway and replace it with more friendly access to the Outer Harbor? Maybe, but the organizers in this area have not shown themselves capable of that much organizational will, even though without a plan in place to remove the Skyway – one that will take years to execute – Canalside is destined to forever sit in its shadow.

Was it about egos and the local area’s uncanny ability to reject negotiation, mediation, cooperation and compromise?

Spot on! My way or the highway.

Now that the great weather of 2007 is almost over and the inaccessible, unfinished waterfront area called Canalside goes into hibernation for another season, I think I’ll sit back and wait until Spring for activity to pick up again; for as sure as local elections bring back the same politicians, plans for physical change at the foot of Main Street will bring back renewed acrimony and dissent.

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