It has been a great summer and everything seems to be going well in the City. A number of projects for infrastructure upgrades have been going on with hopefully minor inconveniences to the public.
While traveling around this summer it appears other small towns such as Kaslo and Greenwood have fixed up and beautified there downtown areas, while some Nelson buildings and awnings are looking worn out and grungy.
City council is concerned with this and has discussed ways to encourage downtown business to revitalize the downtown core. In line with preserving the downtown core, we have requested that the owner of the old Redfish Grill building to begin to repair this brick building.
A couple of years ago I commended our city fire and rescue department for saving the structure of the building and saving the adjoining buildings. But since then nothing has happed to repair the Redfish Grill building structure which has remained with no roof, allowing weathering for two years which has caused the old brick walls to deteriorate and decay. We hope that the building owner will step up to the plate and begin restoration of this historic building before it is too late and has to be torn down.
Along with this, the downtown core could use some clean up and restoration. People from outside our community are starting to write letters with negative comments on the downtown core with old, dirty awnings and faded worn out buildings. It should be noted that some business have done some great work to improve their facade such as Wait’s News. But other downtown business who want to allow dogs back on Baker Street (my favorite subject) to bring in more tourists, while cleaning up and restoring buildings and awnings on Baker Street could do a lot more in this regard.
Nelson can no longer rely on the Baker Street restoration that was done in the 1980s to continue to bring in tourists without spending some money, time and energy to bring the city back up to its beautiful status. If cities like Kaslo and Greenwood spruce up their towns, so can Nelson.
As a member of the Downtown Waterfront Committee we have, through City Public Works, completed bridge, pavement and sidewalk projects at the foot of Baker Street (ie. Rail Town). As well, the Chamber of Commerce is working on the restoration of the CPR Station, another valuable historic building in the city.
So we need a downtown core committee to fix up Baker Street before it gets worse and will cost more money to restore to was completed in the 1980s. We all understand that business is slow, especially with cross border shopping, but it is time to spruce up Baker Street again to bring back national and international awareness of the beauty of our town and area.
What is required is to restore the passion and commitment that occurred in the 1980s when the original restoration work was planned and completed. Repairs are expensive, but if the Downtown Business Association came forth with a plan along with participation from the City, Columbia Basin Trust, downtown businesses owners, building supply companies, contractors, and volunteers this could result in generating an economic boost to the area with the restoration work.
If successful and completed, the city could attract more tourists, area residents, business, and conferences to Nelson, putting the city and area back on the map as a prime tourist destination.
Robin Cherbo is a Nelson city councillor who shares this space with his colleagues around the table