Planning and improvements for the Johnston Road corridor and North Port business area were the focus of a design charrette hosted by the City of Port Alberni on Oct. 22–23.
A charrette is an intensive planning workshop where the public and design professionals work collectively to create a vision or goals for development.
During the two-day invitation-only workshop, a variety of stakeholders and community members gathered at the Best Western Barclay Hotel to consider cohesive visions for Johnston Road and the North Port commercial area.
The study area ranges from the eastern city limits, at Johnston Street, down to the Victoria Quay and waterfront.
“The people that we had both the Saturday and Sunday were really engaged,” said Scott Smith, planner for the City of Port Alberni.
“There was a lot of great discussion about the whole corridor and a variety of different topics.”
A diverse group attended the planning session, including members of the Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley, business owners, Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce members, residents and a representative from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI).
“To do any major projects along [the study area] we’re going to have to have [MoTI] approval,” Smith said.
“To have them involved in this early stage is a really good thing.”
During a group activity on Saturday, participants were asked to present their ideas on one thing they would change about Johnston Road today.
Some ideas that were given included improvements to overhead power lines, a centre median or boulevard with trees down Johnston Road, facade improvements for businesses, more parking for lower Johnston businesses and no vehicle parking at Victoria Quay.
Preliminary discussion and ideas that came from the charrette will become available online within the next week or so on the city’s website.
“There will be an opportunity for people to go look and give us feedback on it with the goal that we really do want a final report in about a month from now,” Smith said. “That way we can take it to the chamber to see and also for council to consider for 2017 and the five-year financial plan for budgeting.”
A final report will look at short, medium and long-term goals and will provide rough cost estimates on particular projects.
“As with all cities we all have limited funds,” Smith said. “The Johnston Road corridor is an important corridor for the community for a first impression. If we’re going to spend resources it’s good to have an overall plan.” Smith said.