Downtown plan examined by public

Three-phase plan included open houses, charrette group and presentations to council

The final open house before the downtown plan is presented to council for adoption happened Tuesday night, drawing about 100 people.

Director of long-range planning and special projects Sharon Fletcher said the hope is to get the Mission downtown revitalization plan before municipal politicians by June 17, and shortly after its expected approval, to highlight where to begin spending money.

The June 4 meeting at the Mission Leisure Centre was the third public open house since the process began in October 2012. The three-phase plan included open houses, formation of a community member charette group, and council presentations.

One of the key issues district staff have been working on is reclaiming First Avenue from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and having North Railway Avenue be a two-way street for vehicle traffic, especially commercial trucks.

Fletcher says the most recent study presented to the provincial government shows an increase in traffic efficiency with vehicles routed on North Railway.

There were some small changes to the plan that was on display Tuesday from the previous iteration, primarily the inclusion of two more big moves, a term given to the document’s larger concepts and visions. The additions are a separate focus on creating residences downtown and the vacant no more concept, where empty lots and storefronts would be filled temporarily with public art or non-profits to create a more welcoming environment.

The five-pronged fundamental concept plan was also refined. These community-wide ideals include an interconnected transportation network, mixed land use, public parks and open spaces, addressing social needs and creating economic conditions for success.

Silverdale’s Mike Gildersleeve attended the open house and favoured the idea to move truck traffic off First Avenue.

“Make [First] more pedestrian friendly, and more easily accessible,” he said.

That sentiment was echoed by Roger Dowker.

“I’m really excited about it. Once traffic is rerouted we can turn this road into anything,” he said, especially if the streets were closed off periodically for community events that would draw more people downtown.

“My favourite time of year is the Christmas parade, and this [plan] allows more of that” type of activity to happen, he noted.