Planning of Nelson’s downtown ramps up
The City of Nelson hosted an open house last week as it works towards the implementation of the City’s Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan.
More than 50 Nelson residents attended as the working group for the downtown portion of the master plan sought community feedback on the suggested plans.
Part of the plan is for the Hall Street corridor which connects the downtown to the waterfront.
As city manager Kevin Cormack indicated in his presentation, creating a gateway at the intersection of Highway 3A and Hall Street is an important part of the vision.
Attendees were divided into tables where they were invited to share their feedback and concerns.
Councillor Deb Kozak, who is also a member of the working group, was happy with the turnout.
“At my table the initial response to the plans were really positive,” she said. “People thought it was a good start to revitalizing that street and making it an appealing place.”
Kozak said some of the comments shared among her group were centred around public transportation.
“If we are encouraging pedestrian activity on the streets and making it convenient for people to walk, then public transportation needs to be a focal point as well,” she said.
Parking — which is routinely a concern downtown — came up again at last week’s meeting, as residents wanted assurances they would have ample parking should they bring their cars downtown.
The concerns around reduced parking come as a result of the master plan’s ideas for public spaces and plazas.
Finley’s Irish Pub owner and working group member Tanya Finley said her group had concerns around the maintenance of the suggested public spaces.
“If we are going to build some places for people to sit and to be pedestrian friendly, are the same things that happened with the Baker Street amenity areas going to happen there too?” Finley asked.
Kozak said it is important to form partnerships with business owners like Finley as the plan moves forward.
Other partnerships the city and working group are looking at developing are with property owners like those of the West Arm Plaza.
“They saw some real advantages into upgrading that little plaza and making it an appealing place,” said Kozak. “Having the mixed residential option was of interest to some people as well. We need to engage the property owners of all of these places and there seems to be support for that.
“Anything that is going to upgrade that centre walkway down to the waterfront is going to be important.”
As a business owner on Hall Street, Finley said the improvements suggested are “very important.”
“If you go down the main highway, at no point are we being engaged to drive up to Baker Street where our businesses are and at no point are we being drawn down to the waterfront,” she said.
“Those are two things that draw people here and if we can encourage more tourism through this than I think that is vital.”