Council members are now reviewing conceptual plans for a next stage of a multi-year, multi-project effort to improve and revitalize the downtown.
As laid out in a report presented to council Sept. 17, consultants Urban Systems have suggested a way for better truck access as well as improvements to 9th Street that would increase its attractiveness and encourage more activity.
Based on council’s review of the report and guidance to staff, the work plan would form part of council’s budget deliberations for next year.
“As contemplated in the 2019 financial planning process, the project would require $1.059 million from the District’s Northern Capital and Planning Grant funds and $2.5 million in fund from the water and sewer capital reserve funds,” said District chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck last week.
Urban Systems highlighted the current use by trucks of all sizes of a lane north of 9th St. and behind City Furniture.
Referring to the 2018 Downtown Beautification Plan, Urban Systems noted the potential of closing Poulton Ave from 9th Street to the highway “to make use of that public right-of-way for a public amenity space that could be enjoyed by the public while also being attractive to tourists travelling along the highway.”
And while the closure of Poulton would affect truck traffic, the company offered an option — maintaining truck access to include a turnaround area with access to and from the lane via Butler Ave.
“It is noted that a portion of the turnaround is behind the proposed sidewalk along the highway but is on Ministry of Transportation and Highways right-of-way,” indicated Urban Systems, adding it would contact the ministry to determine acceptance of the plan.
“If the turnaround is acceptable to council, it will help carry forward with refining the concept for the space that will result from the closure of Poulton Ave.,” Urban Systems continued.
As for potential 9th Street improvements, Urban Systems noted that a key is to incorporate work that “will provide an attractive, accessible and safe area while also investing in improvements to aging infrastructure such as the water pipes and some repairs to the sanitary sewer system.”
It listed four key items for council’s consideration:
– desire for trees and/or other features in a centre boulevard
– provisions for parking
– sidewalk widths
– widths of driving lanes and space for traffic to manoeuvre
Along 9th, Urban Systems then provided potential layouts for identified three areas, from the highway to Poulton, 9th west of Poulton but closer to Poulton and 9th west of Poulton but closer to Butler where such features could be incorporated.
“These layouts are not set in stone, and their intent is to facilitate discussion to help us understand your vision and for the District to come to a decision,” Urban Systems indicated.