Brad Foster has a vision for his community.
The irrigation contractor is an amateur urban designer and he has put together plans he believes can revitalize downtown Vernon.
“We can make a centrepiece of downtown. We can get all of the things the city is looking for,” he said.
Specifically, Foster has cast his eye towards the Coldstream Hotel parking lot.
He envisions a cultural draw with expanded museum and public art gallery facilities, as well as roof-top gardens and residential housing.
So interested in the concept, Foster has launched a petition urging the City of Vernon to consolidate cultural amenities at the Coldstream Hotel site.
“If I can get a couple of hundred signatures, that’s a bit of a voice,” he said.
He calls for redevelopment of the Bennett parking lot on 29th Avenue to include commercial and residential uses.
“We could have bistros and shops around that hit with the residential housing. The whole neighbourhood would be cleaned up,” said Foster.
His plans also call for a visitors centre in the old packinghouse near Civic Arena and parkades to addressing a lack of parking. Alleys could have gardens and public art.
He anticipates greenspace and denser housing along the creek from 30th Avenue to the Vernon Recreation Complex.
Foster has approached the city and other organizations with his concepts.
“I can’t find anyone who wants to work with me. I get nods from the planners but that’s the end of it,” he said.
“I get people accepting things but I get no feedback.”
One of the stumbling blocks may be the projected $200 million price tag for his projects.
“We’re almost at the end of a bad economic cycle but if we start with planning and building now, it could be another two years and that’s the perfect time. Let’s get going,” he said.
“I hope to get a percentage for my work but I love my city and see a lot of potential.”
Foster, who has lived in Vernon for nine years, grew up in Coquitlam but camped here in the 1960s.
“My heart’s been here since a kid,” he said.
“I would like to see it stay small but grow economically and in quality. Look at what Revelstoke did. They got the businesses and planners on the same page and they got it done. That town is a tourist attraction.”