Regeneration co-ordinator wanted to improve downtown Sydney
Plans underway to improve Sydney’s downtown.
Wanted: One downtown regeneration co-ordinator.
It’s not your everyday help wanted ad, but the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, in partnership with the Sydney Waterfront District Association and the National Trust for Canada, is currently advertising for someone with a background in urban design and downtown regeneration to work as an independent contractor on a project to improve Sydney’s downtown area.
Deputy Mayor Eldon MacDonald, whose council district includes downtown Sydney, said the project evolved from a conference he attended in Prince Edward Island more than two years ago where he heard about similar work that had been done in other regions of Canada.
“It’s about revitalizing and looking at the downtown and seeing what assets we have and how we can make better use of them,” he said.
The position calls for a bachelor’s degree in architecture, urban design, civil engineering or urban planning as well as five years related experience or a master’s degree with three years of relevant work experience. Particularly valued would be experience in restoring and repurposing heritage buildings.
The project, which will run to June 2019, is expected to cost about $100,000 in the first year. The CBRM received $75,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and discussions are also underway with the province for funding.
While Heritage Canada is involved in the project, MacDonald stressed the process isn’t solely focused on what would be considered heritage buildings.
“We have some vacant buildings and vacant window spaces that need to be filled more with entrepreneurs, landlords, business owners, to try to help create an environment that would be more attractive to attracting new business to the downtown core,” he said.
Key to that will be discussions about residential development in the downtown, MacDonald added. Developer Marty Chernin has proposed constructing a mixed-use residential-commercial building along the Esplanade and MacDonald said there is another private proposal to develop housing in the former Cape Breton Post building on Dorchester Street.
“We have second floor levels on Charlotte Street that may be able to be looked at and I’d like to at least have a discussion to see if there’s a potential for developing some good quality … affordable housing and those are some of the things that would be encompassed in the overall position,” MacDonald said.
Efforts to improve the streetscape would also be part of the scope of the project. A parking strategy is also currently underway and is due to be completed soon, and that document would also fall under the new co-ordinator.
The hope is to engage landlords, business owners and the general public about what they would like to see improved in the downtown and encourage a more cohesive approach, MacDonald said.
While this project would focus on downtown Sydney, the hope is that lessons would be learned that could benefit other downtown areas within the CBRM.
“It’s about building the municipality rather than building the downtown Sydney waterfront district,” MacDonald said. “It just so happens that it will start in the core part of the municipality.”
The closing date for applications is March 2. The selected candidate is expected to begin work in March with the term position to expire in June 2019.