Having received overwhelming response from area residents, city council unanimously endorsed the concept of a courthouse neighbourhood Monday and authorized staff to “communicate existing programs and information to community leaders.
Approximately 75 residents of the courthouse area responded to a survey distributed to all property owners and renters last November, a rate of return Justin Lawrence, director of environmental services, called “a very high percentage” in his report to council.
Of that number, 89 per cent of respondents were in favour of establishing a courthouse neighbourhood with emphasis on promoting pride of ownership, sharing of heritage and crime prevention.
In a presentation to council last fall, Lawrence indicated “The establishment and enhancement of neighbourhoods around a central and identifiable theme can improve community pride and recognition. This in turn can improve interest in the area from a real estate perspective and potentially tourism.”
He added the courthouse area would be a significant pilot project because of its history, well-balanced streetscape, abundance of heritage trees and reasonably defined boundaries.
Key features could include stylized street signs, creation of a promenade along the west side of Stanley Street and development of a walking tour app, however Lawrence conceded this could be expensive to develop.
Based on feedback from the survey, Lawrence advised council Monday a neighbourhood group should be self run and governed by community members, with lines of communication established between the city and the group.
The city should make available to the group a list of available programs and services including the promotion of Crimestoppers.
A link to heritage information and the city’s Municipal Heritage Committee would be beneficial.
Next steps would entail providing results of the survey back to the community; providing links to services and contacts; and city staff should obtain contact information from neighbourhood community leaders.
Work on area improvements began last week with reconstruction of Queen Street, between Centre and Wellington streets, generally maintaining the same historical cross-section, including narrow grass boulevards.
A public meeting is scheduled March 30 to update residents on reconstruction of Stanley Street, from Sunset Drive to Wellington Street. That project will include a promenade with lookouts along the west side of the street.
Unique heritage-themed street signs and poles will replace existing infrastructure in both projects.
Responding to a question from Coun. Gary Clarke, Lawrence advised there will be “no additional costs” beyond the amount budgeted for the pair of reconstruction projects this year.
The remaining signs in the courthouse neighbourhood will be upgraded during future undertakings as funds are available.