By Lyonel Doherty
The Town of Oliver is simmering a “downtown action plan” and preparing to add many ingredients in hopes to have a recipe to write home about.
The document borrows from a melting pot of ideas outlined in the Official Community Plan and the Town’s Strategic Plan, which identifies downtown revitalization as a major priority in Oliver.
Projects in the Strategic Plan include: A study of the potential relocation of the Town office; façade improvements; incentives for a hotel; reduce vacancies in the downtown core; public engagement for the best use of Town-owned lands downtown; facilitate artwork in public places; close access lane behind the Oliver Legion; complete a Centennial Park business case to determine the best use of the property; develop and enhance Station Street; and determine traffic-calming measures.
The Town is renewing its push to attract a large hotel to the community. A second letter has been sent out to a list of hotel operators who received a request for proposal in 2013.
In 2016, a 400-seat neighbourhood pub was proposed for the old Mesa Hotel property on Main Street, and developer Richard Kendrick proposed a plan to build a 14-room boutique hotel at 522 Fairview Road.
A series of open houses last year resulted in a lot of feedback on what the public would like to see downtown. These included: fewer rules about development; more attractive rents; longer business hours; more restaurants and cafes; housing and commercial development on Station Street; improved outdoor gathering spaces; additional bike racks; better lighting at crosswalks and traffic calming.
“Don’t daydream of buildings that owners cannot afford,” was one comment at an open house.
An Official Community Plan survey saw 77 per cent of respondents say that downtown needs to be revitalized by increasing business, filling empty storefronts, attracting visitors and improving the appearance of the downtown core.
Other comments included: a traffic circle at Station Street and Fairview Road; murals in back alleys; and lower property taxes.
Town Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger said attracting a hotel would have the biggest impact on the community.
He also said encouraging the integration of multi-family residential uses above ground floor commercial use would build vibrancy and entice more stores and services to locate downtown.
Schwartzenberger noted the study on the potential relocation of the Town office would open the historic property for other uses.
“The public’s feedback on this item could give additional direction and enthusiasm for revitalizing the downtown core.”
Give your input during an information session at the Firehall Brewery tonight (Feb. 15) from 5:30-7:30 pm.