Local government decision-makers needs to get on board in order to stimulate investment in Vernon’s city centre. To encourage interest for people to live downtown, we need to start with a centerpiece.
Richard Rolke interviewed me for an article in the Oct. 14 Morning Star about my vision for redevelopment of the city centre. Richard wrote that I am an irrigation contractor. That I am as a sideline, but my main business for the last 21 years has been fire sprinkler system installations.
I have worked closely with general contractors and developers in Vancouver when they were redeveloping Yaletown and Powell Street — areas that you wouldn’t think anyone would want to live in and now look at it.
I started working on my revitalizing ideas over two years ago, got involved with Vision North Okanagan and Vernon’s city centre neighbourhood planning. We all talked about the need of cultural attractions, residential in the downtown core and greenspace. I have talked to many contractors, realtors and developers and they all asked the same thing, “Is there a demand for this?”
If we move forward with the right plan, there will be the interest.
My focus has been on development of some city-owned land, the Coldstream lot for a new art gallery/museum and commercial/residential complex that would attract people to a vibrant area of downtown. This end of downtown has the new library, Nixon Wenger, Tolko, restaurants, bistros, coffee shops, greenspaces and parks. The other lot is the Bennett lot, a perfect location for a facelift to a combined commercial/residential building surrounded by new streetscaping and existing building facade upgrades.
The businesses in that neighbourhood should thrive because of this redevelopment.
Another of my concepts is the restoration of R.H. MacDonald packinghouse to house a visitor centre/public market with a historic fruit industry theme and top-floor offices.
Last, but not least, is a neighbourhood park and greenway surrounding lower BX Creek. This is a must for riparian restoration and public access to nature in the city centre.
With this kind of development, the residents of our region will enjoy and utilize the downtown more and the business community will prosper.