Understanding the plan
Residents learn more about project to revitalize downtown Sydney
Change is coming for the Sydney Waterfront District and residents had an opportunity to learn more about the downtown revitalization project on Saturday.
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Sydney Waterfront District and the National Trust for Canada hosted an open house for residents, held on the bottom floor of the former Smart Shop Place, otherwise known as the former Cape Breton Fudge Shop, on Prince Street in Sydney.
Residents learned more about plans to revitalize the downtown Sydney area and also had a chance to voice their opinions on what they would like to see happen to improve the downtown core.
The event ran throughout the afternoon from 1-4 p.m. with a steady flow of residents visiting the location and meeting with members and staff of the Sydney Waterfront District, the CBRM, and the National Trust of Canada.
Phil Irons has been living in the Sydney community for over 40 years and attended the open house. He likes the idea of redevelopment for the downtown core.
“Looking at the Ekistics plans, I think it’s a good idea,” said Irons. “I think, speaking with councilor (Eldon) MacDonald, one of the things that needs to be done in regards to the Ekistics plan is that it needs to be made public in the sense of being published online, so people can look at it.
“I was looking at the 100page plus document here, which is very good, but I don’t have the time to sit down and read it here and that’s the only copy available, so if they put it online, it allows everyone to see what’s going on.”
Last week, the municipality endorsed in principal a plan from Ekistics + Design to revitalize the downtown core which calls for $10.5 million in investments for the area. The $10.5-million figure will not include the cost of any required land acquisitions but would include $7.5 million to redesign Charlotte Street from Dorchester to Townsend Street. It also outlines about $973,00 for parking lot enhancements at the Capri Lounge, $585,000 for two-way street conversions and intersections, almost $744,000 for George Street linear parks, $327,000 for signage and wayfinding, $285,000 for a façade program and just over $100,000 to install modern parking meters.
Bradley Murphy, the downtown regeneration co-ordinator, believes it’s important to redevelop the downtown community.
“It’s more of a movement — it’s just happening now,” said Murphy. “I think it’s not that now is the ideal time, tomorrow or next year you could do it, it’s just happening now, people are looking for it and there tuning into it — It’s about making positive change and having more people help that movement.”
Iron thinks the redevelopment of the downtown core will draw more business to the Charlotte Street area.
“I think if this had been done 40 or 50 years ago, the Mayflower Mall wouldn’t exist because there wouldn’t be a need for it,” said Iron. “It’s not going to happen tomorrow, I accept that, it’s probably not going to happen within the next five years, maybe 10 years, I would expect it to be 15 years for sure, but the redevelopment is something that has to be done.”
Murphy said during the open house he did receive a lot of feedback from those who attended, something he was happy to see.
“There has been a lot of people expressing their opinions on things they would like to see changed and things they would like to see happen — there is positive and negative feedback,” he said. “We’re trying to encourage positive thinking, not that negative feedback isn’t important, but we’re trying to look at things we can build on that are already good instead of focusing on things that are bad.”
Irons fully supports the project and hopes the community will support it as well.
“If I was able to stand up in front of council and say I encourage you to get on with this project, I would do so,” said Irons. “As a citizen, I will just sit back and wait and see what happens.”
Phil Irons of Sydney is shown signing a comment board during an open house for the regeneration of downtown Sydney on Saturday. Residents learned more information and had an opportunity to voice their opinions on plans to revitalize the downtown core.