Council approved funding a revitalization plan that is aimed at guiding future development and infrastructure needs in the downtown core.
The rationale was presented to council last week during a Committee of the Whole meeting, however, council approved funding to increase a initially proposed budget from $50,000 to $300,000 during another meeting on Monday night. The funding will come out of a parking reserve, meaning there will be no municipal tax implications.
The goal of the plan is provide a coordinated response to how the downtown should look, based on community consultation, as well as recommend design criteria for developments moving forward. It will also help inform and update the Official Community Plan (OCP), which is also up for review later this year.
All councillors approved the funding, and recognized the need for a downtown revitalization plan, however, there were some concerns that the final product could end up sitting on a shelf collecting dust. A few councillors referenced a decade-old sustainability report that received a lot of community engagement, but not a lot of follow through.
“When we reach out to the public for help and consultation in these kinds of plans and then they just sit on a shelf, it can be a bit demoralizing,” said Councillor Wes Graham, serving as Acting Mayor, “and it can make people not want to get involved in the process, so I would definitely hope that we can crack open those old plans and see what we can garnish from them.”
Councillor Wayne Price noted the importance of the plan’s intention to catalogue and project the downtown core’s future infrastructure needs.
“One of the biggest things overlooked in previous plans, and a lot of these types of plans, is the infrastructure,” Price said. “We’re looking at some major change possibly downtown, there’s a lot of interest downtown. Right now, our infrastructure will not support most of the bigger projects that we’re seeing interest for in that downtown area. So we need that more comprehensive look, from the underground right through to the top.”
Staff is hoping to issue a request for proposal for a consultant in the coming weeks and have an initial draft of the plan completed early next year.