City council has set staff on the next leg of their journey to transform downtown Sudbury into the biggest, brightest and best downtown in northern Ontario.
Councillors gave staff the green light to implement 25 low to no-cost action items within the next 12 months, including the preparation of a detailed 10-year implementation plan, that would be brought back to council for consideration prior to the 2013 Budget.
The Downtown Master Plan and the work done by staff to get to this point was commended by all councillors. There was no opposition to the request to adopt the list of what was called the “low-hanging fruit” by city planner Jason Ferrigan.
Ward 11 Coun. Terry Kett called the plan a “remarkable document,” adding it is something that will appeal to longtime residents. While it's “likely the best report I've been party to in my career, the problem I'm seeing is it doesn't fit the priorities of council.”
Kett requested that the the city's planning department, specifically Ferrigan, sit down with council in a priority-setting situation in an effort to “sell” to council what is doable. He said council needs to be convinced this won't break the bank, as the city's financial situation isn't great.
Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis said there's no doubt the Master Plan is an expensive proposition, but there's a lengthy list of projects that can be taken on over the next year that are very achievable, and all that is needed from council is a commitment right now.
“There's no doubt in my mind that we won't regret adopting this tonight,” Dupuis said. “This plan is aggressive, and it will spark a lot of conversation over the next few days. The downtown has always been a priority for council, and we are doing everything we can to ensure its revitalization.”
The plan to extend Larch Street to Lorne Street will create a lot of room for development, from residential to retail, which will only translate into revenue for the city, he said.
Along those same lines, Ward 10 Coun. Frances Caldarelli said tackling the smaller projects will pay off in the long run, because once they are completed and the private sector starts to take note of those changes, businesses will be more inclined to set up shop in the downtown, where they will experience more success. The more money businesses make, the more they will reinvest that money into the downtown. She called it a “snowball” effect.
Ferrigan reiterated his point that the plan paints a compelling picture of how the city and its community partners see the downtown next year, in 10 years and 30 years from now.
The draft Master Plan and Action Strategy was presented to the planning committee January 23. Since then, it has been presented to more than 15 organizations including the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Sudbury BIA, Rotary Club of Sudbury, Rotary Sunrisers, Art Gallery of Sudbury, EarthCare, Rainbow Routes and Sudbury Cyclists Union.
The Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Sudbury BIA and La Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario have expressed their support for the Master Plan and Action Strategy.
The Master Plan presents a long-term strategy to improve the quality and character of Downtown Sudbury, while the Action Strategy provides a blueprint to begin implementation.
The Action Strategy is flexible. It maps out major projects that could be realized by the city and community over the next decade as opportunities emerge, subject to economic conditions. These catalytic interventions have the capacity to bring significant spin-off benefits downtown and for the city.
To view the new Vision, Plan and Action Strategy developed for Downtown Sudbury, by the City of Greater Sudbury, Greater Sudbury Development Corporation and the community, visit greatersudbury.ca and search: downtown master plan strategy.
The first year will see the implementation of 25 action items to kick things off. They are as follows:
- Council should endorse the Master Plan and Action Strategy, prepared in consultation with the community.
- Staff should prepare an implementation plan for council's consideration. This implementation plan would focus on the City of Greater Sudbury's downtown revitalization priorities over the next 10 years and be brought forward before the next municipal budget.
- Council may consider and approve the implementation plan, referring approved projects to relevant departments for inclusion in their 10-year capital planning processes.
- The city and community should explore the creation of a Downtown Master Plan implementation team with the mandate to maintain, build momentum and bring forward priority initiatives identified in this plan. This team would consist of project stakeholders, city representatives and community partners.
- The city should consider all relevant policy recommendations emanating from this plan in the five-year review of its Official Plan. It should also consider all relevant updates to the city's zoning bylaw and Downtown Community Improvement Plan.
Activity and Growth:
- The city and Greater Sudbury Development Corporation should begin to explore the opportunities and constraints associated with the Inno-Tech and Multi-Use Destination proposals.
- The city, Greater Sudbury Development Corporation, Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area Association and Downtown Village Development Corporation, and others should begin to implement the recommended Retail Strategy.
- The Places des Arts project partners should finalize their functional program and feasibility study.
- The Art Gallery of Sudbury will continue to implement its plans to open the new Franklin Carmichael Art Gallery downtown.
- The city should continue to work with the Market Square Renewal Advisory Panel to formulate a plan to create a strong and sustainable downtown market. The city should begin the work necessary to see the new market open for the 2013 season.
- Laurentian University should continue to work the city and its partners to design and initiate construction of the Laurentian School of Architecture so that it is ready to accept its first class of students in the Fall of 2013.
- The city should continue discussions with Cambrian College about how it can help Cambrian grow its downtown presence.
- The Greater Sudbury Public Library Board should explore the viability of building a new central library downtown.
- The city, Laurentian University, Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area Association and Downtown Village Development Corporation should meet with current and future residential property owners to discuss current and future housing opportunities downtown. The city and Greater Sudbury Development Corporation should examine opportunities to create a residential incentive package for downtown, including liaising with other municipalities who have successfully implemented these types of programs, such as Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Regina.
- The Synergy Centre project proponents should undertake an operational and feasibility study.
Access and Connectivity:
- The city should continue its discussions with CP around the Larch Street Extension, Elgin Greenway, Riverside Pedestrian Underpass, Nelson Street Bridge, Cedar Street Pedestrian Bridge and Station Plaza projects.
- The city should consider this plan in the Transportation Background Study update, currently underway. As part of this process, the city, Rainbow Routes, Sustainable Mobility Advisory Panel and Sudbury Cyclists Union should explore immediate actions, such as the painting of sharrows (shared-lane markers), to improve on-street cycling infrastructure, where appropriate.
- The city should make one municipal parking facility available for overnight parking to support residential growth and test market interest in structured parking solutions for downtown.
- The city should work with the Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area and Downtown Village Development Corporation to develop a phased, multi-year capital plan to upgrade all downtown streetlights.
- The city should consider this plan in the Water Wastewater Master Plan for the City of Greater Sudbury to ensure that there is adequate capacity to serve future growth.
Beauty and Pride:
- The city, Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area and Downtown Village Development Corporation should implement the Elm Street Parking Pilot.
- The city should begin the calming of Brady Street, with pedestrian improvements at the intersection of Brady and Minto Street including the installation of zebra stripes and pedestrian countdown timers.
- The city, Rainbow Routes, Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Area Association and Downtown Village Development Corporation should begin to take the steps necessary to achieve a design and implementation plan for the Elgin Greenway.
- The city should prepare the necessary information to administer a design competition for Tom Davies Square and Memorial Park.
- The city and Heritage Advisory Panel should consider the existing and potential properties with cultural heritage value or interest identified in this plan as part of their mandates.
Posted by Mark Gentili