The results of ideas and suggestions about revitalizing Ponoka’s downtown are now before the public.
An open house on May 24, unfortunately cut short by last week’s severe storm, was held at the Kinsmen Community Centre complete with videos and information boards for those who were able to attend.
Representatives from Parkland Community Planning Services (PCPS), the company contracted to come up with the plan, as well as Ponoka’s director of planning and development, Tim Schmidt, were on hand to answer some questions.
“The difference between this draft plan that was presented and the public discussions in March is this is the first time that overall input was received from the public on what they would like to see for downtown has been put together,” explained Craig Teal, PCPS director.
“Now we are looking for comments from the public about what they like and don’t like or what they would want to see changed.”
The goal of the plan is to make downtown Ponoka pedestrian friendly, a place that will attract new commercial investment plus create a space that people will want to flock to for both shopping and gathering together.
Teal added the plan would see the creation of a new civic plaza and shared street space along the south side of 49 Avenue between 51 and 52 Streets, a new look for the entire 15 block area of downtown. It’s based on one of three vision concepts that will include more trees and improved sidewalks plus finding parking options to encourage pedestrian and bicycle traffic downtown.
“There were two major items the public wanted to see — a place to hang out, a central gathering for civic pride as well as a new, more inviting look for the streets,” said Teal.
The plan would also promote more blending between new and the current heritage architecture, work on generating more mixed use residential development in the area and encourage the building up of vacant lots and working to fill commercial properties.
“The draft covers a lot of topics and a big space,” Teal said.
The three streetscape concepts considered include Post and Rail, Stagecoach and River Valley. All of them focus on wider sidewalks and improvements such as planters, flowers and upgraded lighting. However, where each concept differs is in what type of materials and aesthetics.
Teal invites people to watch the three videos on the website — www.DowntownPonoka.ca — and provide their reaction on what look they would prefer.
“It’s a really big change for downtown, something new and noticeable for 15 blocks,” he stated.
To get as much public consultation as possible, the website has been established with the complete draft plan available to go along with video and photo illustrations of the three concept plans being suggested as options.
Residents are encouraged to visit the website — www.DowntownPonoka.ca — to look at the draft plan then provide their feedback. The comment form can be printed and filled out. People are also advised to use extra paper if they need to.
The comment forms need to be dropped at the Town of Ponoka office by June 9 or mailed to PCPS in order for the feedback to be used as the proposed plan is developed.
“Our goal with the Downtown Action Plan is to create a vibrant community hub that will be a catalyst for future economic growth in Ponoka,” said Greg Braat, chair of the Heritage and Downtown Revitalization Committee, which is also the Steering Committee for the Downtown Action Plan Project.
That proposal will be presented to council later this year and the public will have a chance for further input during public hearings on land use bylaw amendments that will be part of the proposal.