Now that we’ve seen it, what do we do with it?
Residents of Summerside got their first look at a sweeping new vision for their waterfront last week. The Summerside Port Corporation initiative was designed to develop a plan for what the downtown waterfront area would look like 25 to 35 years from now.
It’s an interesting result for the year-long exercise. Developed by Ekistics Planning & Design of Halifax, the document is ambitious and, as Rob LeBlanc of Ekistics put it, “far-reaching and visionary.”
That remains to be seen, but it certainly left the 100 or so Summersiders in attendance at the Loyalist Country Inn with something to chew on indeed.
The plan calls for the closing of a section of Spring Street to create a pedestrian/bike mall full of shops. That would be nice to see.
It also suggests building a municipal parking garage onto the back of the Holman Building to allow for the redevelopment of current parking lots. More parking spots in an organized set up would also be beneficial, but we’re not sold on the potential of adding additional heavy truck traffic in the area. With (hopefully growing) port traffic, there is enough of that already.
The Ekistics crowd also suggested adding at least one secondary marina (possibly two), and new small boat docks. This welcoming addition for our seafaring friends won’t hurt either.
The consultants also proposed a completely overhauled Holland College campus. We’re not sure what to make of that since a significant renovation was just completed. However, the reclaiming of land for a 10,000-person capacity park and amphitheater certainly caught our eye. Having such a facility would only serve to help draw traffic to the area; combined with the Harbourfront Theatre we would have an awesome one-two punch to draw the entertainment crowd downtown.
The plan also suggested condos, lots of them. Bringing people to live downtown is a no-brainer, cities across the continent have been attempting this (some more successfully than others) for years. It’s a good move to help keep the downtown vibrant, especially when combined with the proposed pedestrian mall.
Perhaps the most important thing to come out of Thursday night’s meeting was the level of excitement from those in attendance.
No matter what downtown Summerside’s waterfront looks like 25 years from now, it will be the result of the commitment, excitement, co-operation and engagement of city leaders and residents that is responsible for the result. Let’s hope this plan gets us going.