Downtown looks for $600,000 to complete development


The association in charge of downtown made a presentation at city council tonight concerning its 10-year development strategy, looking for $600,000 over three years to complete its development.

Although a decision was not made as of yet, this amount comes from an extensive development package.

The City launched its first Downtown Development Initiative in 2006. The City and BIA developed the following vision for downtown Sault Ste. Marie:
  • More than a ‘main street’ – a true neighbourhood
  • An authentic place
  • A ‘24/7’ neighbourhood
  • Entertainment and cultural centre of the city
  • Marketplace shopping experience
  • Well-connected place
  • Safe place
Assessing past revitalization efforts reveals considerable progress over the past ten years. The City has invested a total of $585,000 in the Downtown Development Initiative in the first (2006-2009) and second (2014-2017) phases.
Specifically, the value of residential and commercial building permits totalled approximately $84 million, with over $40 million directly facilitated through financial incentives and tax rebates associated with the DDI’s previous phases.
Through an online survey, pop-up engagement booths and open houses, they developed this initiative.
Their Strategy:
  • Preserve downtown as commercial, administrative, and cultural core
  • Develop a vibrant residential neighbourhood
  • Facilitate beautiful streets and open spaces
  • Encourage active use of downtown spaces
  • Improve mobility and linkages
  • Ensure strong, cohesive leadership and collaborative action

To ensure 100 per cent of the government funding that has been promised, council would have to spend that further $600,000.

Its strategy for implementation:

a. Incentives
Implementing grants and tax rebate programs catalyzes private sector investment. These programs incorporate private sector dollars which helps to build investment momentum. The following incentive programs are incorporated in the Downtown Strategy:
  • Façade Improvement Grant
  • Building Improvement Grant for vacant buildings
  • 2nd Floor Residential Conversion Grant
  • Tax Rebates for new private sector commercial, administrative, and cultural facilities downtown totalling investment greater than $500,000
  • Tax Rebates for infill residential development downtown, i.e., Multiple attached and apartments (excluding single detached) totalling investment greater than $500,000
b. Operational Considerations:
The following items have been identified as priority activities and processes that should be allocated resources annually and accepted as an operational item for the corporation and/or involve an adaptation to existing protocol:
  • Streamlining sidewalk patio application and approval process
  • Streamlining event/street closure application and approval process
  • Identifying a Liaison Officer and programming activity budget
  • Adopting a larger role in downtown event planning
  • Increase enforcement of property standards
  • Reviewing city protocol for downtown traffic planning and management
c. Studies:
Items identified for further investigation will yield a study identifying the feasibility, required resources, and action plan for implementing these projects. These include:
  • Complete Streets and two-way traffic evaluation
  • Gateway Park Environmental Assessment
  • James Street Hub Trail Extension
  • Esposito Park ice pad
  • Signage and Wayfinding Strategy
  • Intra-Downtown Transit Assessment
d. Public Realm Projects:
These projects will yield a significant improvement to the quality of downtown public spaces through optimizing user experience and enhancing the physical appearance.
  • Queen Street Tree Replacement and Street Furniture
  • Bay Street Lane Reduction and Multiuse Trail
  • Landscaping in public parking lots
  • Pilot Projects (e.g., Queenstown Commons)
  • Neighbourhood Infrastructure (e.g., Splashpad)
  • Suncor Site
  • Implement the Cycling Master Plan