Ponoka’s downtown plan brings a long-term process to help with revitalization.
While the ideas in the plan aren’t necessarily new — planners are using several documents from past surveys over the years — its implementation is. Among those ideas are plans for changing parking in the downtown area, but that is a cause for concern as was determined June 20 during the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce meeting.
The process is part of a 10-month long plan to be ready before the next election.
Tim Schmidt, director of planning and development for the Town of Ponoka, took some time to answer some concerns regarding parking and proposals for layout. He said a recent survey showed about half the respondents had some dissatisfaction with the proposals.
“Most of the comments that we had were about the physical improvements,” said Schmidt, adding that the concern was about how they would affect parking, businesses and the appearance of the downtown area.
Other requests were to make walk-ability in the area or concerns with mid-walk crosswalks, which affects business parking.
That was one area Carol Dunne, owner of Flowers for You was concerned about. She feels the proposal that puts trees on the sidewalk could make it harder to find her store.
She likes the idea of customers being able to grab a bunch of flowers and leave the storefront then go right into their car. “This is very serious for me to take away something.”
Schmidt offered that the plans are not set in stone. Indeed, there are three proposals to give residents a chance to look at different ideas.
CAO Albert Flootman added that each business is different and town planners want to be aware of each of those needs and differences, adding that a flower store such as Dunne’s may have a different perspective than a restaurant seeking patio space.
The main intention is to be able to set the 25-year plan in motion so that engineering and structural plans for items such as sidewalks and underground infrastructure are ready.
“Before we start construction, we actually have to complete detailed engineering design too,” said Schmidt.
He added that Dunne’s concerns, and those of recent surveys, will be taken to the downtown revitalization committee before anything is decided on. He said the process is quite lengthy, but the plan is still on schedule.
Another area discussed at the chamber meeting was the need and importance of trees in the downtown area.