It must be more than two years ago that the City of Nelson hired a Vancouver-based design group to develop a strategy that would invigorate downtown Nelson and include Railtown. One of the concepts for Railtown was to design the space between the information centre and the Maglio area so that it could be easily converted to a larger space for public events. Since then, two locomotives have been placed in the centre of that area. Nearby at the Cottonwood Market area is an unfinished site that could also be used for other special events, but has no connection with other city amenities.
I just got back from Golden and walked around their Spirit Plaza, in the centre of their small downtown and so has access to those other city activities. In this context, Nelson is at a disadvantage in that there is no available space in city centre that could function in the plaza sense. Cottonwood and Railtown are on the extremities.
An obvious alternative could be to re-imagine some part of Baker Street as a public plaza. Yes, I know the current retail model insists on vehicle parking rather than a rich people environment. It seems we are stuck with very inefficient public transit and perception that parking a car close by is the first requirement for retail success. With some exceptions, there is no urgency to supply parking along the cultural and retail hub of the city. Railtown might be better suited as a parking hub, with continuous shuttles in to the core.
Yes, this would require change and dealing with self-imposed barriers from regular citizens and merchants alike. Alas, it probably won’t happen. We can continue to enjoy the sound and smell of vehicle traffic as we think about visiting Golden.