A new housing development beside Cottonwood Falls Park is back on the radar at Nelson council.
The project is at the initial concept design stage, so construction will not start soon. The development would be in the former location of the market stalls behind the Nelson Leafs Recycling Centre.
City planner Sebastien Arcand presented this and other updates on plans for Railtown at an Oct. 26 council meeting.
He said the city is planning to upgrade the parking lot at the Rod and Gun Club to make it the main lot for the park, with the current traditional Japanese-style gate and bridge as the formal entrance. The plan for the parking lot is to add circular traffic flow, pavement, vegetation, electric vehicle charging stations, and a sidewalk connection to the Rosemont tunnel.
This is intended to alleviate traffic congestion at the market area. Arcand said the city hopes to encourage people to drive part-way to the market and walk the rest. He said the city will educate the public about alternate parking spots.
Councillor Jesse Woodward agreed with this approach, calling for “anything that can be done to remove cars, not have them in this mix, and have people walking, or a shuttle bus. It is so tight down there. It should be a pedestrian zone.”
Councillor Janice Morrison asked if there were plans to replace the bridge in the alley behind the recycling depot, as this would also help traffic circulation on market day. City manager Kevin Cormack said this would have to be proposed as an addition to the city’s public works budget.
Other plans for the park area include a new washroom and concession stand at the market as well as electrical and lighting for the stage, all funded by a provincial government grant, to be installed before the next market season.
One of the goals of the Railtown plan is to encourage mixed-use multi-family housing in the vicinity of the park. To that end, the city is selling two derelict houses at 710 and 712 Railway St., with multi-unit residential redevelopment as a condition of sale.
Councillor Keith Page said the restoration of Cottonwood Creek and its former fishery should be a priority. He said there should be a plan for this over the next several decades, and wondered why there is not a walking path along the creek.
“We need to challenge ourselves to decide what this would look like,” he said. “What does the creek need over the next 50 to 80 years.”
Mayor John Dooley said the city has looked into this, and the barriers are private land-owners along the creek including CP Rail.