Downtown revitalization eyed

By Geoff Lee

November 17, 2016 12:00 AM

City council gave a yellow light to a request for a proposal to fund a downtown area redevelopment master plan at a cost of $149,547.60.
A decision to award a contract to O2 Planning + Design Inc. in Calgary was deferred by council on Monday to the next regular meeting to give them more time to digest the 112 page report.
“I believe there were some questions about the dollars,” said Aalbers.
“Certainly, as a new council we’re being very vigilant about where we spend dollars.”
He said with city’s cancellation of the $4.7 million purchase offer for the Synergy Credit Union building as a catalyst for downtown revitalization, the new council wants to ensure they are spending money wisely.
“The sense I get from council is that we want to be absolutely crystal clear that we are proceeding on the right steps on the right time,” he said.
The consultant contract would complete the downtown redevelopment plan by October 2017 with the initial work started in 2014 by another consultant.
“It’s an important piece of work that will guide us into the future in the redevelopment of downtown,” said public works director Alan Cayford, acting as city manager.
The plan is designed to cover development over a 15 year horizon.
Cayford said downtowns today are about people friendly spaces where people can walk including parks and benches and sidewalk cafes and restaurants and even high density condominiums.
“The developers will come—we’ll have a document to guide us through that process,” said Cayford.
Deferring a decision to award the $149,547 contract to the next council meeting will allow council to ensure there will be no duplication of previous studies.
The redevelopment plan would identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and constraints that would affect the plan with that information used to engage the public to create a downtown vision.
“It’s so important we bring in the other partners and I am sure they will be consulted in that process, but to get the process started then realize we’re duplicating—that’s not a good policy,”  said Aalbers.
He said he wants to make sure other revitalization advocates like Streetscapes and the Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce are on the same side as the city.
“I sense that council wants to go back and just make sure we’ve got everything going in the right direction because we are going to do things, but we want to make sure we do it in an orderly fashion,” said Aalbers.
That was the main concern of Coun. Jonathan Torresan, who otherwise thinks it’s good value for the money with the costly downtown community hub project squashed.
“I think it’s a lot better value for residents and it doesn’t put any pressure on administration at this time to have to make any other financial commitments,” said Torresan.
Duplication avoidance was also on the mind of Coun. Glenn Fagnan, knowing the consultant that started the process issued a report in December 2014.
“I think we need to take a look at it and just see what has been done already if there are any plans that are already in motion, just making sure that there is no duplication,” said Fagnan.
“I am all in favour of the revitalization and I think we need to have that master plan.”
He cautioned he is just not sure if the timing is right on it.
Coun. Ken Baker said he was also glad a decision on awarding the contract has been put off until the next council meeting with so much information to absorb.
“‘We get far too much stuff in short order prior to council meetings,” he said.
He noted it’s important to get proper information ahead of time so you find out what’s going on and not be stumped when you get into the council chambers.

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