Nelson city council gave final approval to its development plan for Railtown at its meeting on Dec. 5.
Late in 2015 the city developed a stakeholder team for Railtown and hired a planning consultant. Since then there have been a number of meetings and open houses, and the city has maintained a website at nelsonrailtown.com.
The area the city has dubbed Railtown is bordered by Highway 3A, Government Road, Cottonwood Falls, and the CPR railway tracks. It includes the refurbished CPR station.
The plan divides the area geographically into a number of precincts, which would each have its own character and purpose: the market, live-work, railyard, industry, and heritage-commercial precincts. The purpose is to diversify the area without losing its industrial flavour.
The plan identifies “eight big moves” that represent what the stakeholders and public made it clear they wanted to see in Railtown. These are things that, according to the plan, could be done with public investment to catalyze further private development.
• Connect Railtown and Baker St. to the waterfront, including a pedestrian overpass over the tracks.
• Improve the intersection of Baker and the highway.
• Connect Baker St. to the Cottonwood Market.
• Create a pedestrian mews or lane in the area behind the gasworks building.
• Connect Baker St. to Government Road on the west end of Railtown.
• Enhance the railyard plaza in front of the station with landscaping and create a space for festivals and events.
• Create a station park at the historic Superintendent’s House.
• Create mixed-use multi-family housing in the vicinity of Cottonwood Market.
The plan is conceptual, laying out the kinds of development that the city will encourage in various part of Railtown.
Because much of the land is privately owned and because the city itself will not become a developer, the plan will roll out over years rather than being a single project. As consultant Joaquin Karakas told a public meeting in June, the project “is not intended to be implemented only by the city. Instead, business and real estate development will be a market driven process, supported by strategic public investments and an engaged community.”
The plan lists 29 short-term goals including such things as bylaw changes, city infrastructure upgrades, and the development of incentives for developers.
The plan shows that Cottonwood Market will move closer to the highway, and the market’s former area is designated as a “special development area.”
On another map in the plan it clearly shows the market area as slated for “mixed-use multifamily.”
The plan also includes details about what is envisioned in each precinct along with permitted uses, a market and financial analysis, a review of infrastructure requirements, and an implementation timetable.
The planning process was paid for with a grant from the Canadian Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The plan as presented to council is attached below.