Council is looking at making a mini-park or band stand in front of Remax, and closing the Highway 16 entrances to 9th Street and Poulton Avenue.
Council presented some ideas to over 30 people at a recent public meeting, and met with a group from the business community last Thursday.
The ideas include turning the 9th Street highway entrance into a one-way out-road, closing the highway entrance to Poulton Avenue, creating a band stand in front of Remax, and adding two highway crosswalks from Steelhead Park – one to Poulton Avenue and another to Copeland Avenue.
The design plan includes adding a gateway feature, such as an arched sign, over the highway at the bottom of the east highway overpass.
It also proposes a sidewalk along the south side of Highway 16 from Benson Avenue to Butler Avenue, and adding a highway median with trees, separating the two lanes of the highway from Butler to Copeland Avenue, and another one from Copeland to Benson Avenue.
Council is also looking at adding truck parking behind the Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s about making changes to improve access to downtown, pedestrian mobility and gateway features,” said John Guenther, Interim Community Planner.
Council hired a transportation design consultant to form the design plan which they will present to the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Conference on Sept. 14.
Still in the preliminary stages, council is seeking to get public support, which will help them lobby for funding from the Ministry.
“If the community comes forward saying they’ve already had public engagement and this is what the people want… it carries a lot of weight,” said Guenther.
If you say what you want, have a concrete plan and give reasons for it, your chances to get funding are much higher, said Deputy Mayor Shane Brienen.
RCMP Sgt. Rose says he thinks closing the Highway access to 9th Street and Poulton Avenue is a great idea.
“Anytime they close off an intersection it’s good for the police, because it lessons the likelihood of crashes.
“At the same time it will increase the number of pedestrians near Highway 16 so it will need some kind of safe passageway across the highway,” he said.
Guenther and Houston’s Interim Director of Engineering & Development Services Tony Edwards presented the ideas to a group of downtown business owners last Thursday.
They met with owners of Mike’s Audio Video, Houston Food Market, Reitsma’s Home Hardware and Countrywide Printing & Stationary Ltd.
Guenther says the business owners had a few concerns but liked the ideas overall and supported the proposed changes.
Guenther is continuing his work in Houston until December, with tasks involving bylaws, development review, the Official Community Plan and finding grants and funding opportunities.
The next public meeting discussing the changes and bylaws is Oct. 10.