Design Engineer from the Vancouver-based company, Modus Planning, Joaquin Karakas led the presentation, placing emphasis on the need to make our community a more attractive living space for those who prefer walking or bicycling as their mode of transportation over a car.
Some ideas Karakas presented were condensing the highway roads along downtown into three lanes, creating a more pedestrian-oriented layout, creating more housing options and local street facing shops, supporting private investment, and also touched on purposing vacant lots as possible public gathering spaces.
“Chances are if you have a successful downtown, you have a successful community, “Karakas said. “Downtowns, when they are working well, are the social heart of the community, they’re the cultural heart of the community, and the economic heart of the community.”
City Manager, Diane Hunter was also present, answering questions about the role city staff will play in guiding the standards and policies of design implementations.
“There’s a lot of interest on 100 (Street) and 100 (Avenue). Everything from let’s make it into a parking lot, let’s make it into a strip mall, lets make it into a park, “Hunter responds to a member’s question about the aforementioned street concern. “Lots of good ideas… though one of the things we heard from the community… over the years is, ‘we want to know that the city has a plan’.”
Karakas did credit the already strong presence of civic buildings around downtown like City Hall and the Court House, as well as our community’s cultural use of buildings like the North Peace Cultural Centre and the Lindo Theatre.
Of course, the city wants to hear from local community members as well, and encourages you to voice any ideas or concerns on PlaceSpeak, an online forum currently running on the city’s website.
The community’s voice will also be heard during the “drop in” event on June 26, running from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in the Cultural Centre, as well as at the city’s Canada Day booth.