Mission council is determined to make good on its promise to revitalize the downtown core as the planning process moves towards action.
Council met last Monday afternoon (May 6) to go over Mission’s official Downtown Action Plan to set priorities.
Council agreed the district needs to wrestle control of First Avenue from the hands of the province.
Mayor Ted Adlem said after meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Highways he’s confident rerouting highway traffic off First Avenue and on to North Railway Avenue will happen. He said he’s even more sure residents can expect to see the downtown revitalization project take shape by year’s end.
Following a public consultation process, the municipality has developed a 10-point action plan on projects aimed at revitalizing the downtown core. Adlem said the goal is to prioritize the projects, and determine how they will be funded. While some of the big-ticket items, like a new civic centre, would require deep pockets, there are some initiatives in the plan that some members of council feel could take shape soon.
“We have the money in reserves. We won’t have to borrow to get started,” noted Adlem.
While rerouting traffic on First Avenue is seen as a priority, the plan also calls for a more civic presence. The hope is to build a campus downtown and see a partnership between the district and a primary tenant, like the University of the Fraser Valley.
Building a new civic centre in the downtown core, which could possibly house the new municipal hall, an arts centre, youth facility, and multi-purpose rooms, is estimated to cost $20 million. Add on the space for UFV and costs jump to $32 million. Spreading out the cost of the projects would mean the district would need to raise its share of property taxes between five to seven per cent over 20 years, according to the latest report presented to council.
Joaquin Karakas of Golder Associates, the company tasked with creating the plan, said a civic presence in the downtown could also be as simple as a cenotaph.
District staff said they are working on plans to entice private investment in the downtown, both through monetary incentives and through an aggressive marketing campaign in hopes of reducing costs with all projects.