City puts revitalization plans before 30th Avenue merchants

Remaining section of Vernon's main street may move ahead with revitalization

Revitalization of the last remaining section of Vernon’s main street could move ahead.

The city will ask property owners on 30th Avenue, from 33rd to 35th streets, if they are willing to pay for improvements such as decorative sidewalks, twinkle lights, street furniture and light posts. The cost would be $450 per metre of frontage.

“We need a vision for the community and main street as a whole,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe.

It’s expected the total project cost will be about $1.1 million, with the property owners contributing $240,000 and the city paying $860,000 for landscaping and road and utility infrastructure.

Other sections of 30th Avenue went through revitalization years ago but an attempt to get property owner support between 33rd and 35th streets failed in 2002.

However, the city was recently approached by some merchants who want to see if opinions have changed among property owners.

Councillors Bob Spiers and Juliette Cunningham were opposed to surveying the property owners.

Cunningham doesn’t believe it’s fair the city will pay for trees, shrubs and landscaping when it didn’t do that during the other revitalization projects.

“The merchants on 30th Avenue, east of 32nd Street, will be paying until 2017 for some improvements and now we’re asking for taxpayers to pay in these other blocks,” she said.

“This looks like business assist. Yes, they will pay some of it, but other businesses paid more.”

Staff insists bylaws have changed over the years and the city’s willingness to cover some landscaping costs is consistent with current policies.

Coun. Patrick Nicol defends the process.

“There is a community value to downtown looking vibrant. They (property owners) will pay substantial costs here,” he said.

“These are tough economic times and I give them credit for looking to the future.”

For revitalization to occur, there must be approval from 50 per cent of the impacted properties as well as the properties making up 50 per cent of the land value.