The City of Terrace unveiled the preliminary concept of a new downtown vision plan last week. About 20 members of the public attended a presentation at the Days Inn on June 21, contributing their ideas to a final round of revisions.
“Once it’s incorporated into our official community plan then it’s a document that is used all the time,” said city planner Tara Irwin. “It’s like a working document, it’s not just a plan that sits on the shelf.”
The plan will include a set of downtown guidelines, which lay out a set of rules for developers looking to build in Terrace. The plan’s role is to give some context as to why those guidelines are important, aligning potential investments into the city’s overall vision of making the downtown the symbolic heart of the city.
“It paints the bigger picture why it’s a good idea to play by the rules,” said Edward Porter, a consultant with Modus Planning Design and Engagement.
Opinions and ideas on what Terrace’s downtown should look like have been gathered from the community since January, through online platforms like Wayblaze and organized events.
The draft started to come together in March after a two-day workshop was held with city staff, council and key stakeholders. Ideas drawn up from those discussions were then distilled into a roadmap, framed by five objectives used to provide context to a series of catalyst projects targeting specific sites in the downtown.
These objectives, referred to as the ‘Five Fundamentals’ in the plan, include strategies to define smaller precincts within the downtown, encourage more residential housing projects, incorporate a pedestrian first approach, add more green spaces and boost the arts and culture scene in the city.
“We’re saying these [fundamentals] need to be a part of future developments for downtown Terrace,” said Porter during the presentation.
The creation of eight smaller precincts, one of the biggest changes proposed, will be used to emphasize areas of the downtown that have their own unique identities, while still recognizing them as parts of a whole. According to the plan, precincts can help foster economic growth and development by clustering similar businesses together in one specific area.
The Five Fundamentals will then be used as a reference point for ten targeted projects, or the ‘Ten Big Moves’, proposed within the plan for the downtown’s two-block core and surrounding areas. Projects include the development of a downtown “living room” for pedestrians to gather along the 4600 block of Lazelle Avenue, and a seasonal pop-up marketplace for entrepreneurs in the Skeena Mall parking lot.
Saša Loggin, chair of the board of directors for the Terrace Downtown Improvement Area Society (TDIA), said she really favoured the precincts idea.
“These little areas, they will be unique in themselves because they have different needs,” she said, adding that it encourages relationships between businesses and community-building activities like block parties.
Having places to gather and be social are important, Loggin said.
“I come from a European country so town squares are really the heart of most European cities, and that’s what’s missing in North America, so having places where people can come together and sort of find out what’s happening… places to sit and gather, with complete strangers, that’s really nice.”
Community feedback on the plan will be accepted up until the first two weeks in July through Wayblaze, according to the city, with hopes that a final draft can be presented to council for adoption by the end of the month.