The future of the Summerside waterfront and the city’s downtown core received a huge vote of confidence Wednesday night, as more than 60 people came out to discuss the waterfront.
Summerside city councillors and city staff, local developers and business people along with members of the general public met for over two hours to help the Summerside Port Corporation map out a 25-year vision for the area.
The session was set up by the port corporation and led by Rob LeBlanc and his team from Ekistics Planning and Design from Dartmouth, N.S. They will take all of the suggestions made and come back in six weeks with a plan for the waterfront.
What is encouraging about the events of Wednesday night is that it was one of the few times all of these groups have come together to work for a common goal. In the past each one has been working from its own silo with not much communication or interchange with other groups who were working on the same or similar plans.
The old adage is true, there is strength in numbers, and the higher the numbers the stronger the plan will be.
It was clear that all involved believed there is a future for the waterfront and the downtown and that there needs to be a concerted effort on the part of everyone to take responsibility for their community and its future.
Many of the ideas brought up in the session were similar. The most common denominator was the presence of the Holland College Summerside Waterfront Campus. Many referred to it as a “game changer” for the waterfront. It has been the most impactful development in the area in a decade.
The college can play a major role in redeveloping the area, and through courses and training offered at the institution, could lay the groundwork for new jobs and bring in young families to live in the area.
Ridding the waterfront of parking lots was another topic but that raised the issue of where vehicles could park. There was some talk of a parkade being constructed to solve that problem.
A sightline to the water was critical, according to some of the participants, and many suggested that the waterfront be free of housing construction.
Of all the ideas and suggestions that came out of Wednesday’s session, too numerous to list here, the most impressive result was how the community came together with, not only a goal, but a resolve to see it through.
Too often we have read and heard from naysayers that the downtown is dead. Nothing will ever come of it.
Wednesday night’s meeting derailed that train of thought.