The downtown should be vibrant

Almost wherever I’ve gone this last while, someone is wondering how the development of Prosperity Ridge (many just call it the Wal-Mart place) will affect the “downtown” area.

Almost wherever I’ve gone this last while, someone is wondering how the development of Prosperity Ridge (many just call it the Wal-Mart place) will affect the “downtown” area.

Some fear there won’t be much of a downtown area left within a few years.

They cite what has happened in other cities (Quesnel, Fort St. John and Prince George come to mind).

According to our new Official Community Plan, the downtown will need to be a focal point and a priority for new development and redevelopment in order to remain healthy and sustainable.

Meanwhile city council is looking for funding to relocate the Station House Gallery to leased property near city hall.

The idea is to create an “art” neighbourhood with the museum, the new Arts and Culture Centre (former fire hall) and the library in the same area.

I don’t know how the Cariboo Lodge/Park Home property will fit into this plan. A committee is working on that issue.

My interest  is twofold. First, I would like to see a vibrant downtown because I live close by. People living on the south side of the city no doubt like having a major shopping centre over there.

For people coming off the highway, it’s just as easy to zip across the overpass as it is to go downtown.  Secondly, for about 25 years I’ve been involved with the local museum.  For those who might not know (or care) the museum is operated by a non-profit group with assistance from the City, which provides the building and some funding. I’ll be watching with interest to see how this art neighbourhood enhances the downtown core.

Another idea. The City’s Economic Development Corporation has been quiet for a while. Maybe it could become involved in finding new development and redevelopment that would keep the downtown vibrant, healthy and sustainable.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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