For such a progressive community, Nelson residents sure don’t like change. Case in point? Last week’s reconfiguring of the downtown amenity areas.
On Tuesday morning, the 400 block of Baker Street was transformed into a construction zone as City of Nelson crews had the heavy equipment out. The task was to remove the stone planter boxes that ran adjacent to the sidewalks on both sides of the street.
The Star posted the photo and story on our Facebook page early Tuesday morning. By evening, the story and photo generated all-time high volumes of traffic.
Most of the comments did not welcome the change. Some called it “unfair” and others felt it was enough to have the entire city council replaced. Others waxed poetic about their memories of the planter boxes and what they meant to the overall vibe of the downtown. Some even threatened not to shop downtown anymore.
Passionate discussion on issues involving the downtown is certainly nothing new. The core of our community is one of our greatest assets and there are many different views on how to ensure it remains that way. But even we were surprised by the amount of traffic, angst and discussion this rather subtle change generated.
To be clear, the amenity areas are not going anywhere. The removal of the stone planter boxes came as the result of significant public dialogue on the Downtown Waterfront Plan. It also included consultation with the downtown businesses.
The idea is to open up the amenity areas in order to make them more accessible to everybody, rather than the somewhat hidden cove they were. As for the flowers, the City plans to remove the bricks around the other parts of the amenity areas to replace what was lost in terms of plant life.
Change is difficult and for the next few weeks the absent planter boxes will make that part of the downtown stroll look strange. By the time the blossoms are on the trees and the core is once again fully alive with spring activity, we’re pretty positive this will be a change worth making.