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Final downtown implementation plan to be completed by May
The municipality's success in revitalizing the downtown core will hinge on attracting private funding through strategic public capital projects, according to Golder Associates' Joaquin Karakas.
He addressed council Monday to recap the progress of the revitalization plans and said with the completion of nearly two-thirds of the district's conceptual designs to rebuild its downtown, Mission has prioritized some initiatives to jump-start investment.
The goal, he said, is to emphasize the downtown as the commercial, social and cultural heart of the community.
Thirty residents, along with councillors and district staff, were part of the charrette team that gathered at the Mission Leisure Centre Jan. 17 to provide input on what they wanted to see happen once the planning phase is complete and the actual work gets underway.
Karakas said the goal is to refine those suggestions into an action plan in the "nine big moves."
He said the most important aspect to come out of the charrette is to take back ownership of First Avenue, or 1st is First, as they've labelled it.
A piece of the puzzle calls for removing the provincial highway designation from First Avenue to North Railway Avenue. He said this will allow design control of the area, encourage pedestrian traffic, and permit more community events to be hosted there.
Another move would be to bring more civic, educational and art uses to the district's core.
"Bringing people and activity to the downtown is a key priority to bring investment," noted Karakas.
Part of that challenge will be to ensure people feel secure downtown.
Karakas said strategies to alleviate concerns centre on increasing a diversity of people who come to the downtown by providing a wider range of activities, whether it's through art, education, or public attractions.
He also said it will be critical for the district to engage the marginalized population to participate in the revitalization process. He noted that enforcement by police, and treatment and support for those in need, will be central to crafting a more inviting downtown.
Other priorities include enhancing the downtown gateways, creating a park and finding solutions to parking issues.
Karakas said the next step is to have a workshop with council to prioritize the community's short-, medium- and long-term goals which should lead to the final implementation plan, which should be ready by May.