Imagine the possibilities
Tired of provincial election news?
Then let’s turn our attention to downtown Sydney where three stories made headlines this week.
We’ll start with an endorsement in principal by Cape Breton Regional municipal councillors of a $10.5-million plan presented by Ekistics Plan+Design to revitalize downtown Sydney.
As stated in our April 1 editorial, the plan, which focuses on making historic Charlotte Street more friendlier for pedestrians and reconnecting the downtown with the waterfront, is brilliant and well worth the investment.
Councillors, it seema, also see the potential benefits, although it is understood that land acquisition costs will drive the overall price tag higher. Enough, perhaps, to cause some over time to think twice about the project’s viability. We’ll see.
But here’s the thing. If we’re going to grow our downtowns – in Sydney, Glace Bay, North Sydney and elsewhere – we have to invest in them. We have to make them a more attractive option to retailers, shoppers, residents and commercial developers than they are at present.
The Ekistics plan is a major step in that direction and, besides, doing nothing to help the downtown is just bad business.
On the heels of council’s endorsement came a tantalizing bit of potential waterfront development news revealed by Dennis Campbell, CEO of Ambassatours Grey Line, during Thursday’s Ports Day conference in Sydney.
The vision calls for a complex that would include a bar, patio, restaurant and gift shop in the area once dominated by the Royal Cape Breton Yacht Club and similar in design to the Campbell-owned Murphy’s on the Water complex in Halifax.
Campbell hopes to see the project underway within three to six years, just in time to gauge the potential long-term benefits of the second cruiseship berth we would hazard to guess.
It’s an exciting concept and we hope his vision becomes a reality.
And as we envision a waterfront destination area stretching from the second cruise ship berth to Wentworth Park, we were happy to hear Glace Bay Liberal candidate Geoff MacLellan reiterate his support for a proposal to move the Nova Scotia Community College Marconi Campus to the waterfront.
Of course, coming as it did in the middle of an election campaign, MacLellan’s position is one that skeptics can – and will – take will a grain of salt. Finding the cash to actually make it happen will be difficult when there are so many other pressing needs the government needs to deal with first.
Still, the idea, which was first floated about two years ago by CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke offers tremendous potential – both in terms of raising the profile of the college tenfold and adding an estimated 2,000 students and employees to the downtown core.
Maybe an economic impact study will some day determine that the end result of moving the campus would be worth the investment.
In the meantime, these three visions of downtown Sydney remain just that – visions.
Like the second cruise berth, waiting for each to become reality will take time, determination and a lot of patience. Here’s hoping.
If we’re going to grow our downtowns … we have to invest in them.