Downtown: What’s the next move?


Over 1,300 people took the time to fill out the Downtown Development Survey this past July says Victoria Prouse ,Project Coordinator,  of the Downtown Development Initiative.

She notes the participation in the survey was a City record. In addition to the survey the group also hosted open house events at the Queenstown BIA, the neighbourhood resource centre and pop up booths at Mill Market and Station Mall.

The findings of the survey will eventually land on the desks of city council.

“The draft downtown strategy reflects the information, opinions, and insight we gained over the summer from Sault residents.” Prouse said in an email.

Some of the key objectives outlined as a result of the survey findings include;

5280-shopping4_467x311Downtown SSM will be the geographic focal point of the City’s transition from a predominantly industrial economy to one focused on knowledge and creative sectors. The global shift from  manufacturing-based industries has made it
imperative for Sault Ste. Marie to diversify its economy.

Some of the action planned being implemented include, To keep the downtown as a “city core” It is critical to maintain the downtown as the City’s administrative, commercial, and cultural core.  Encourage federal, provincial, and municipal governments to maintain and expand their downtown office facilities.

Downtown Square 1Another key component is developing a vibrant residential neighbourhood. That plan has already began with the additional of new apartment buildings in the downtown core along with the anchor of the Riverwalk condominiums and other buildings currently being re purposed into multi-unit apartments.  A robust and diverse population is the bedrock of a prosperous downtown. Downtown living allows people to live, work, play, and invest in their neighbourhood. Bolstering the downtown’s population creates a built-in consumer base for businesses.

The draft strategy also calls for the encouragement of downtown spaces, to do this  the plan calls for efforts to make it easier for community groups to host events in the downtown by identifying  a Liaison Officer to promote event planning processes and opportunities and work with groups to plan events and encourage pilot projects,
such as activating underutilized laneways, parking lots and sidewalk spaces.

The old hospital site is on its way to become a major residential anchor for the downtown area.
The old hospital site is on its way to become a major residential anchor for the downtown area.

Keeping and creating more outdoor street and open spaces for example, focus resources on improving aesthetics of the following special areas: such as the Canal District ,  Suncor Property and  Gateway Property Proceed with the Bay Street Lane Reduction, Streetscaping, and Multiuse Trail project.

Enhancing the mobility and connectivity was also identified. Things like investigating the potential of a downtown trolley route circulating downtown and enhance pedestrian
linkages from the waterfront to Queen and Gore Streets.

The objectives of this strategy can only be achieved through buy-in and accountability
from City staff, elected officials, and community stakeholders the draft outlined.

The public is invited to an open house on Thursday, November 3 from 5-8pm at the Queenstown BIA office (496 Queen Street East) to share the strategy and obtain final feedback from the community before it is presented to City Council.

to view the full draft strategy CLICK HERE