Ideas aired at Spirit Square meeting

  • Apr. 1, 2009 10:00 a.m.

Everything from cutting off traffic downtown building longhouses, gazebos, installing interlocking pavement, along with seating, fire pits, and public washrooms were ideas discussed at the visioning meeting for Queen Charlotte’s Spirit Square, which also included a discussion of the community park. Around 20 people participated at the community hall March 24. QC Mayor Carol Kulesha got the discussion rolling with a drawing that outlined the initial Spirit Square concept – a triangle shaped waterfront parcel backing onto the Visitor Information Centre parking lot and extending to Causeway Street. She said staff had looked at squares and town centres from around the province to see what others were doing. Different ideas like water fountains, cenotaphs, clock towers, community gardens, memorial benches, information boards and more can be found. She reminded people there’s $290,000 for the project but a lot of work has to be done to level and prepare the site first, which can eat up funds. “We need to think about the key things people want to see,” she said. Laird Bateham was the first to speak. He’d like to see a space for the weekly Farmer’s Market. He said the present site by the Community Hall doesn’t hold people, “it’s cold and people come and leave right away.” He thinks a space at Spirit Square could be sheltered from the wind with glass windows on an open building or with hedges as windbreaks. “Crowds attract people. If it’s warm and people can get a coffee, they’ll hang around more,” he said. Dean Nomura also liked the idea of using glass in a building, but he suggested a glass-roofed gazebo that could be rigged for bands or other entertainment. He also pictured stepped-down semi-circle seating. He said another resident suggested a longhouse with a totem pole situated on the backside of the space by the Causeway Convenience building. Jacques Morin said he’d like to see renewable energy modeled there, such as solar heat for hot water. “It would show that the town is a leader,” he said. He also wanted to see the Spirit Square space used for people not parking. Mayor Kulesha asked what people thought of the concept of keeping the area vehicle free. Some thought that a vehicle free policy, with exceptions for loading and unloading and people with disabilities, makes the area more attractive. People discussed making the area pedestrian only after 6 pm or on Sundays, for example, but the challenge is, said Mr. Morin, who is on the Advisory Planning Commission, that there’s very little parking in the area surrounding Wharf St. Walter Noddin then asked for clarification about what areas were being discussed. Did that mean no driving to the bank? “I like it the way it is,” he said. “I don’t want to walk.” Councillor Gladys Noddin, said a no-vehicle policy downtown would make the area inaccessible to her. Mr. Nomura wondered whether large trucks were going to continue to pass through the area, as they have been during the small craft harbour re-development. Mayor Kulesha said the Small Craft Harbour people do want another exit. They’d like the village to leave an edge for reefers to go out, or to help tourists who mistakenly take their RVs down the causeway. “I thought that was what that expanded area was about, so they could turn around,” said Dr. Nomura. Dr. Nomura said it wouldn’t be a good idea to leave the edge of the property as a roadway for trucks to drive through. “I don’t want the best part of the property as a roadway.” QC Administrator Eunice Ludlow suggested using stanchions with chains that could be let down to let traffic in and out when necessary. Mayor Kulesha said the harbour work is still ongoing and not finalized, but as far as she understands, trucks will still have to make a several point turn in the new filled land on the Causeway. She also reminded people it’s a commercial fishing dock and refrigerated drop trailers are a part of that business. That said, things can be done to make it a little more visually pleasing, like including barriers and landscaping. “We’re certainly not going to be offering a place to park trailers,” she said. Others had questions about the harbour plans, and wasn’t the idea to create more parking there? Mayor Kulesha said the space will be used for a fish processing plant, a wharfinger’s office and a washroom with showers, but she said the exact plans have changed several times. No one from Small Craft Harbours was at the meeting to shed light on their plans. The possibility of including a boat launch in the small harbour development was also discussed, but Mayor Kulesha said she’d been told that wasn’t an option. Others suggested ways it could work, for example, filling in an area below the roadway between the South Moresby Air ramp and the harbour grid could provide parking and a ramp. The Observer have more on the discussion regarding the community park next Thursday.

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