Tidying downtown key to revitalization process: Hensman

'Creativity and emphasis' to go into making downtown an attractive shopping area

Mission Councillor Dave Hensman wants to know what options exist to encourage some property owners on First Avenue to clean up their premises.

Last week Hensman said tidying up what is currently there is a key part of the revitalization process.

“I’d like us to develop a more stringent policy, or enforce the policy we have,” said Hensman. “A lot of buildings are darn neglected and we need to get tough on that side of the equation. Leaving the buildings as is is not acceptable and we need to demand change.”

Hensman said property owners who redevelop should be awarded, and penalties should be meted out to those who are consistently asked to clean up.

Council is musing over tax incentives to encourage owners, the councillor said.

“We really want to rebuild downtown into a beautiful shopping area and we will put our creativity and emphasis there.”

Hensman also pointed out not all downtown buildings are a problem.

“I’ve had numerous conversations with business owners who own their building and they’re excited about it,” said Hensman. “They’re local people investing in the community.”

“Many downtown buildings have definitely outlived their usefulness and need to be retired into the landfill,” said Hensman at the Oct. 15 council meeting. “The heritage stuff that’s good down there, obviously we need to keep it and preserve it and use it for as long as we can. But when you really look at it, there’s not a lot of great stuff there.”

The big picture is to revitalize downtown, but until we get there, out of town landowners need to maintain their buildings, he added.

The downtown plan is expected to be finished by March 31, 2013.