Keeping the ?Heart? of our Community Healthy
Sechelt Mayor Darren Inkster: June 2010
Sechelt Council supports continued renewal in our downtown area to ensure it continues as the healthy “heart” of our community. Smart growth principals tell us that compact communities with shopping and public amenities centrally located make good sense. It is less costly to provide infrastructure (wastewater collection, roads, sidewalks, etc.) to facilities located close together than to ones spaced out along a highway corridor or in non-central subdivisions.
Businesses need customers to survive. Customers need ways to get to businesses. Sechelt Council is currently discussing two issues that have impacts for our downtown. Both relate to improving ways for people to access this key area.
There are a variety of ways people can access our downtown. This area is relatively level. It is a very walkable area, especially if you live close by. Having more residents living in the ‘village’ area of Sechelt would mean more customers for downtown retail outlets, restaurants and service providers. Council is faced with the challenge of how to facilitate more residential development in our downtown core while maintaining the ‘village’ scale and feel. We are currently anticipating an application for a new development on the property at Teredo and Trail (known as the Pacific Spirit or Tong property). This site is currently zoned for a large scale multi-family complex. Any development on this site will have impacts for our entire community. I encourage all residents to be aware of the potential for a new development proposal and watch for their opportunity to provide comment. Your views can help us make the development on this key section of our waterfront and downtown an asset to our community.
Not all residents can or want to live downtown. For these customers to reach downtown merchants and service providers, it will usually mean the use of motorized transportation. This brings me to Council’s second area of focus, vehicle access and parking in the downtown area
Cowrie Street is a central hub for regional transit. Use of public transportation is an environmentally responsible choice that I would like all residents to consider, whenever practical. This is also important because to maintain and expand our transit service we need to show our support by using (and thereby helping to pay for) the service.
To improve private vehicle access to our downtown, Sechelt needs an alternative to Highway 101 between the “village” and the growing residential area of West Sechelt. This need has been documented by traffic engineers in our Road Network Plan. Council recognizes that there will be impacts for the areas immediately adjacent to this new traffic route. No final decision on a route has been made. Whatever route is selected, there will be opportunities for residents in impacted areas to work with the District to create the necessary access and retain the quality of life in their local neighbourhood.
Concerns are also growing about where vehicles are to park once in our downtown. The District does not own land suitable for a parking lot in the downtown core. To buy land and develop a parking lot would be costly. District staff are looking into downtown parking options. In the mean time, I encourage all visitors to the downtown to obey parking time limit restriction for on-street parking. By respecting parking time limits, you can help allow more people to park and shop in our downtown which will help keep our merchants open for business!