The City of Nelson is going to re-design Baker St.’s signage, lighting, street furniture, and landscaping. In addition, it will develop new designs for amenities like sidewalk patios, public washrooms, and electric charging stations.
The process will start with an urban design strategy workshop next week to which the public is invited.
“We want people to help us visualize the next generation of our downtown,” Mayor Deb Kozak said in a news release. ”It’s our city’s centre — it’s the heart of Nelson.”
“We’re open to hearing input from stakeholders and the public. We want our downtown of tomorrow to be well-designed, progressive, diversified, and compelling. At the same time, we also want to respect and celebrate Baker St.’s rich history and Nelson’s remarkable natural setting.”
The city has hired MVH Urban Planning and Design to develop the plan. According to the city’s news release, the Lower Mainland company has completed downtown plans for communities including Courtenay and Penticton.
As in the ongoing changes on Hall St., the project will coincide with work on water and sewer lines that needs to be done anyway.
“The downtown core as it is, is wonderful,” Kozak said in the news release, “but like other parts of the city, its infrastructure will soon need replacing, so we want to be ready with a plan for public realm improvements when the time comes.”
The design workshop will take place on Tuesday, May 17 at the Oxygen Art Centre. The city’s press release states the event will be “an opportunity to gather feedback and spark ideas about urban design in the downtown.”
Registration is at 6 p.m., with a presentation at 6:30 p.m., followed by exchange of ideas and small group discussions from 7:15 until 9:00 p.m.
Megan Squires, the city planner leading the project, told the Star it’s time to revisit Baker St. since it has changed little since the 1980s. As an example she cited the 35-year-old heritage light poles, which she said will soon need to be replaced.
Squires said the plan is scheduled to be in place by November, after which it will be considered by council. She said there will be opportunities throughout the planning process for the public to weigh in. There is currently no schedule for implementation of the plan. The project will include an on-line survey and website, to be launched next month at nelsonurbandesign.com.
The budget for planning and design is $50,000.
“The money is earmarked in the Development Services (planning department’s) annual budget for policy projects,” Squires said, “and it is part of the city’s general operating budget.”
Squires said the Baker St. planning project stems from Nelson’s Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan, developed in 2011. That plan is also the source for two other re-design projects now underway in Nelson.
A plan for the re-development of Railtown must be in place by September in order to meet a grant funding deadline. There have been some opportunities for public input on that project so far, with more to come. City hall is documenting the project at nelsonrailtown.com. Meanwhile, the city is developing a detailed design for the north end of Hall St. this year, with public input sessions included, and construction to begin in 2017.