SUMMERSIDE - The potential of Holland College and the need to get people living and working in the downtown were common threads at a public think tank on a master plan for the Summerside Port Corporation.
More than 60 people, including Summerside city councillors and city staff, local developers and business people along with members of the general public met for over two hours, Wednesday night, to offer their input into a 25-year vision for the city.
“When we took over the operations for the port in Summerside, we decided that one of the first pieces of business we needed to do was develop a business plan to identify and highlight the areas that were both areas of opportunities and challenges for the port,” said Arnold Croken, president of the Summerside Port Corporation. “We adopted the view that we wanted to think in terms of long-range as opposed to short-range. Our concentration has been on a major 25-year plan. We decided that the starting point for us would be to engage the service of some professionals to come in and have a look at what we have in place now and what we might be able to build upon.”
One of the professional groups involved was Ekistics Planning and Design from Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“One of the first pieces of business that we wanted to do was look at not just the shipping business but any possibility of expanding that business and get new business,” Croken said. “We will continue to do that. In doing the review we learned there’s not a great lot of opportunity to pick up new business out of the port above and beyond the kind of business that we’re doing now.”
He said the export of potatoes and the shipments of fertilizers imported are all part of the business.
“One of the pieces of advice that we are getting was if we’re looking at developing any kind of opportunity around our port operations get as much of the available land in adjacent areas as you possibly can to help with whatever you might develop,” Croken.
The port corporation has acquired the former Burger King property, the Harbour Quay building and Spinnaker’s Landing.
“That brings us through to what eventually what unfolded to get us to tonight,” Croken said. “The recommendations that came back from the report is that we have a great opportunity in Summerside to develop the waterfront.”
The involvement of the public was to solicit ideas on how the waterfront should be developed.
Those in attendance were divided into smaller discussions groups to come up with ideas as to how this could be accomplished.
Many pointed to the Holland College Summerside campus as one of the major keys in bringing new life to area.
The consensus was that Holland College has invested in the community and the community must work with Holland College to help, it meet it’s potential and by doing help revive the downtown and the waterfront.
Many felt that through the education process, and the potential growth the college has. Skills, especially in aerospace, IT and biomass education, could be made available to students and help create jobs in the area and keep young people in the community.
Along with that, was the need to have more people living in the downtown.
It was noted by several groups that to have people choosing to live in the downtown, there has to be employment, housing, entertainment. Many recommended that the downtown needs a facelift with less asphalt and more green space.
Check Thursday’s Journal Pioneer website and the Friday edition of the Journal Pioneer for more on the public meeting.