Revisioning downtown Spruce Grove

By Councillor Wayne Rothe

Spruce Grove council Oct. 15 received a 479-page plan for redeveloping the downtown that, if approved, would transform the city centre. Is it too ambitious? Is it achievable?

The project, if it proceeds, is projected to cost $13.38 million over five years. It includes $5.45 million in utility rehabilitation (which is necessary anyway), $6.23 million in streetscape improvements and $1.6 million to redevelop Columbus Park.

If we’re tearing up streets and sidewalks for utility rehabilitation (sewer, water and broadband connectivity) it makes sense to do some of this work concurrently. But how much should the city undertake?

I asked the consultants how confident they are in our ability to achieve this ambitious plan and Wayne Freeman of Cushing Terrell Architects said he’s “bullish.”

Parking is always perceived as an issue in any commercial area and the consultants told council that there is ample parking – especially if more employees park off of the main streets to free up parking for customers of downtown businesses.

The corner of McLeod Avenue and Main Street is identified as the downtown hub – a commercial centre and gathering place with eateries and pubs.

I asked for a comparator of a similar community where this has been done and the consultants cited Port Coquitlam, B.C.

The plan recommends that parallel parking replaces angle parking. This would allow sidewalks to be widened and the construction of centre medians.

Some other plan highlights include:

  • The Queen Street-Highway 16A intersection may be closed as a pilot project.
  • The plan area includes the residential neighbourhood immediately north of McLeod Avenue.
  • First Avenue would remain as a commercial and office district.
  • Parking meters are not recommended.
  • The non-utility payback of $7.83 million is 12 to 15 years.
  • The bylaw’s first reading may come in November followed by a public hearing.

Many questions must be answered before council makes any decision; I’m undecided. Let your councillors know your opinion and consider attending the public hearing. The podcast of the Oct. 15 discussion is available at sprucegrove.org.

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