Plans to create a public plaza/park area somewhere in Mission’s downtown core are on hold.
Council advised staff, at its last public meeting, not to take any action on the proposal for the time being.
A report to council on the status of a possible location for a downtown park or plaza stated that seven possible locations were examined. Three of them were deemed not viable, three were viable and one was undetermined.
The three viable locations were Second Avenue and James Street; First Avenue (mid-block between Welton Street and Horne Street); and First Avenue and Lougheed Highway.
The report said one location – First Avenue and Welton – was deemed not viable because council had instructed staff to not pursue that plan.
However, Mayor Randy Hawes said the plan put forward – a plaza constructed by the post office including a small stage – was not workable, not the location itself.
He said the location could work, but they would have to close Welton, flatten it out and then that could become a plaza.
“We don’t have pricing, we don’t have plans but that’s, I think, where we are looking,” Hawes said.
Coun. Jenny Stevens agreed, calling it a prime location “because it is in the centre of the downtown.”
Coun. Pam Alexis said she was concerned about a lack of green space in the area as well.
“We have also identified the need for green space in the downtown area. I’m confused as to what’s perhaps most urgent – green space or gathering space – but can we combine the space?”
Mission’s director of parks, recreation and culture, Maureen Sinclair, told Alexis it is difficult to make a neighbourhood park and an urban square the same thing.
“I have seen municipalities who have tried and it works to a lesser extent.”
Sinclair said that while she knows closing Welton has seemed to be the preferred option, it’s “difficult from an organizational perspective to organize a special event on a grade.”
She said a flat area would be preferable.
Hawes suggested that council wait until the current downtown improvement project is much further along before taking any action, adding it is “way too early” to start working on deciding what is needed for such a space.
“Let’s set it aside and let things play out,” Hawes said.
But Alexis felt a plan should be attempted so that when the opportunity comes they cam move forward more quickly.
“I think we have to be more strategic and we have to wait until perhaps some of the dust settles … There’s lots of change happening downtown. So I think the opportunity isn’t there yet,” she said.
Staff will now set the project aside until any new developments arise.