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Downtown plan outlined for City of Powell River Council

Public engagement session planned for input into old arena site and Westview wastewater treatment site
GUIDING PRINCIPLES: City of Powell River’s downtown planning process is in its second phase and will include public engagement, both with the community, and also, with youth, to determine residents’ thoughts on what developments on Marine and Willingdon avenues should look like.

Plans for receiving input into development of waterfront corridors were recently outlined for City of Powell River councillors.

At the February 28 committee of the whole meeting, manager of planning services Daniella Fergusson said the downtown plan process has been underway and she wanted to apprise councillors of a public engagement session.

“The plan features our Marine and Willingdon Avenue corridors, starting at the old barge terminal south, going up to the old arena site, and it’s a really comprehensive process looking at development permit guidelines on private land, streetscape guidelines on city land, and redevelopment opportunities on key pieces of city-owned properties,” said Fergusson. “The old arena site and the Westview wastewater treatment site are two of the key properties staff is looking at with public engagement to figure out what is the best thing we can do to further strengthen our already successful downtown.”

Fergusson said she was providing information about guiding principles that are driving the plan, looking at making the downtown continue to work as the heart of the community.

She said the downtown plan is going to result in development permit area guidelines, which are part of the city’s official community plan, and guide the architectural style of buildings on private land. She said there are existing development permit area guidelines that are clunky.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing them updated,” added Fergusson.

She said on public land, standards include what the streets look like. There is a lot of interest in the community about seeing a more beautiful downtown, with places to sit, planter boxes and items like that, according to Fergusson.

“We need some guidelines to say what is the standard to how we expect our sidewalks to look,” said Fergusson. “Marine is more challenging because it is a provincial highway. We have a lot more control over Willingdon and the consultants on our project are looking at that.”

Fergusson said engagement will be conducted into the old arena site and Westview wastewater treatment site on March 7, at 6:30 pm, in Powell River Town Centre Hotel.

“We are finally going to talk about what details and possibilities we could see at these two properties,” said Fergusson. “We have completed archaeological studies for both properties and we have completed phase one environmental site assessments for both properties. We still need to do phase two environmental site assessment for the old arena site. That will be in progress soon.

“The other part that will be in progress soon is working with a land economist on what the highest and best use of those properties could be, considering all the community priorities we want to achieve, whether that is public space, affordable housing, office space or other things the community would like to see achieved in our downtown.”

Fergusson said the city is in the second phase of the downtown plan process.The project is a little behind schedule, in part because there was a desire to add more youth engagement, she added.

“This is a plan that is looking out 20 years in the future and youth will hopefully see elements of this plan built out, so it’s so important to hear from youth about their priorities for downtown,” said Fergusson. “There’s an online survey that is currently active on and we had 47 responses, which is pretty great.”

Fergusson said staff is excited about the workshop for public engagement because it’s not just an open house where people drop in; it’s an opportunity to meet some very talented, well-known urban designers who can bring participants’ ideas to life in three dimensions.

“That feedback will directly influence the plans for the old arena site and the Westview wastewater treatment plant,” said Fergusson. “Once that’s wrapped up, that’s phase two of the project. We’ll be drafting the downtown plan, and at that point, our consultants will be doing a presentation to councillors.”

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