©Downtown Summerside Inc.
SUMMERSIDE – The Summerside Port Corporation is ready to bring the community up to speed on its vision for the city’s waterfront.
And what a vision it is.
A sneak preview of the presentation showed to the Journal Pioneer reveals a transformed downtown landscape, barely recognizable as Summerside but for a few landmarks.
The report, compiled by Ekistics Planning & Design of Halifax, is not a concrete plan but rather a concept drawing of what the city has the potential to become in 25 years.
The Port Corporation has scheduled a public presentation to show off and explain its vision for May 1, at 7 p.m., at the Loyalist Country Inn in the Empire Room.
One of the people giving the presentation will be Rob LeBlanc, with Ekistics, who’s originally from Summerside.
Anyone who attends the meeting is in for a surprise, said LeBlanc.
“It’s a big change for Summerside,” he said, referring to the company’s concept plan.
The Port Corporation undertook this initiative because of a previous study that showed the prospects for increasing sea traffic into Summerside’s port is negligible.
With that option largely out of reach, the corporation instead decided to look to the city’s expansive waterfront as a source of economic development.
Ekistics compiled its vision based on feedback from the local business community, local not-for-profit corporations and ordinary citizens.
A public roundtable discussion held in early December provided the basis for a great deal of the final presentation, said LeBlanc.
What they heard was that residents want more green space downtown while attracting more people to live, work and play along the water. Holland College also played a significant part in the responses received at that meeting, with many people calling for its expansion to attract vital young people to the area.
The end result Ekistics came up with is a downtown expanded by land reclamation.
A large parkade to allow for the greening of many of the downtown’s expansive parking lots, would also allow for a significantly larger marina and the installation of various small craft harbours.
A new outdoor concert venue and park could be built. Some streets could be closed to traffic and used to create pedestrian malls full of shops and restaurants.
The public boardwalk could be expanded and merged with the Confederation Trail network.
LeBlanc stressed that all these things are merely suggestions, but he did say that communities need to be willing to change if they want to grow.
“Change is inevitable – it’s coming whether you want it or not and you can either guide it or be steamrolled by it,” he said.
There will be time allotted during next week’s presentation for questions and input from the public.
Anyone interested in making some comments is encouraged to attend.