Honing in on pedestrian safety, better connections to the riverbank, more outdoor amenities, greenery and street art.
These are some of the top priorities from Prince Albert residents on what they would like to see in a future downtown core.
These results stem from the first phase of establishing a streetscape design plan for Central Ave. and the rest of downtown as the city inches towards the inevitable project dubbed the “Big Dig,” which will see the main corridor ripped up to replace ageing infrastructure and will require the replacement of all curbs and sidewalks.
The public was invited to offer suggestions on characteristics and features they would like to see in the city's downtown. The feedback will help to inform three design options that will be prepared for future consideration. The three-week survey received 494 public responses and 35 from the downtown business community.
“Businesses and residents of Prince Albert are very positive about the streetscape redevelopment project and the potential to change the dynamic of Downtown for the better,” a report on the survey results said. “[They] overwhelmingly want Central Avenue to be a unique destination that focusses on people’s experiences rather than excessive parking.”
The results were amalgamated and grouped by priority, category and similar responses. Making use of the riverbank, be it a better connection, more events along the North Saskatchewan or introducing a Riverboat like Saskatoon topped responses from open-ended questions, with a clear belief the asset is underused.
Other common statements in the survey surrounded pedestrian safety, from both crime and vehicles. Many suggested an increased police presence, bolstering cleanliness and slowing down vehicles. The inclusion of street art, outdoor seating and outdoor amenities, such as parks, playground, water areas or an outdoor skating rink were also suggested.
Gathering ideas for creating a centralized theme for the overhaul was also asked, and overwhelmingly, residents expressed a desire to maintain the historical capital and attractions, much like Moose Jaw. Incorporating Indigenous and Métis culture was another priority.
“Too many buildings have been razed after they have become derelict. Others have been removed for economic blunders,” the report on responses read.
As per the business side of development, respondents preferred prioritizing local business, cafés, some sort of nightlife and outdoor or even rooftop patios. Many further expressed a desire for additional events like the Street Fair throughout the year.
Many people cited Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Calgary, Edmonton and Kelowna as similar downtown cores to mirror here at home.
With the purchase of the former Forestry Building by the University of Saskatchewan earlier this year for $8.125 million, and the organization recently tendering $4.7 million for renovations, Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp said it was important to take this feedback into consideration as the city spends public dollars on investment to “build an area where people want to invest in our downtown.”
“The University of Saskatchewan has already put money where their mouth is and I think it would be fantastic to consider the city doing our investment there as well,” she said.
The city is still in the design stage and potential disruptions to downtown are a long way down the road. Mayor Greg Dionne previously said the "Big Dig" will not happen without federal dollars, but that doesn’t mean the city can sit around and wait. The mayor said it is imperative city staff have a shovel-ready project in hand “so when the funding comes, here it is.”
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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