Past beautification grants from the city have been used to plant flower boxes in Campbellton to spruce up that area of town. The Campbellton Neighbourhood Association now has an action plan in place for future grants thanks to work by VIU Master of Community Planning students, who have been working with the CNA for the past five years or so. Mirror File Photo

Campbellton has five-year beautification vision in hand

By working with VIU’s Master of Community Planning program, the CNA now has a plan

The newly-elected Campbell River city council began its first public meeting at City Hall by hearing two presentations about what a possible future for Campbellton looks like.

The first delegation were students from the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Master of Community Planning program. Students from the program have been working on developing a vision for the area alongside the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association (CNA) for quite some time, and they have now established a five-year plan designed to beautify and revitalize the neighbourhood.

“This plan was really meant to build on the Campbellton Action Plan from 2014,” says Alan Cavin, one of the students who developed the report and presented it to council. “That report had almost 100 action items and we wanted to really turn them into more concrete implementation actions that could be implemented as part of the city’s beautification grant program.”

So each of the individual projects in the plan had to come in at less than $10,000 and could only be done at a rate of one per year, Cavin says, because that’s the maximum amount that a group can be issued under that grant program.

The projects, Cavin says, were developed through listening to feedback from the community at various forums and visioning sessions.

Under the plan, the first year would involve the addition of more trees and landscaping along the “main strip.”

“It would promote walkability in the area by increasing shade cover, as well as just improve the aesthetics – generally just improving the neighbourhood character and make it a more appealing place to shop, work and socialize,” Cavin says.

Year two would focus on signage.

“The neighbourhood of Campbellton, despite being historically distinct from the rest of Campbell River, is somewhat difficult to distinguish from the city at large without some kind of entrance sign,” Cavin says, but adds that the signage, ideally, would also inform people of the area’s history and provide wayfinding for visitors to the area.

Year three, four, five – and six, actually – were outlined by fellow VIU student, Sarah Holden.

“Year three would look at increasing community open-space lighting across Campbellton, such as string lights, lights around the trees and some spotlights,” Holden says. “Year four would focus on public art projects to increase the identity and placemaking.”

Year five, Holden says, would see an increase in the number of bike lanes and the placement of bike racks throughout the community to encourage the use of alternative transportation and increase the ability for people to visit the area by bike.

A sixth year was added to the plan “to allow for some flexibility,” Cavin says. That year’s work, according to Holden, would be to place more garbage cans, recycling bins and benches and tables in the neighbourhood.

Coun. Michele Babchuk says she very much likes the idea of working within the beautification grant program with small, incremental projects that can build on each other over time, but wondered about the trees situation.

“I know at some point there were discussions about (that idea) and whether they could go into planter boxes or whether they’d be planted, and there were issues with overhead wiring and issues with the width of the sidewalks and whatnot,” Babchuk says. “So what is your vision of what those trees would look like? I’m just asking because we’ve got some problems with trees in other areas of our town.

Cavin acknowledged that the details of exactly how each phase of the plan would be implemented was not within the scope of the plan, “but we envision planter boxes,” and Holden reminded council that because they were working within the confines of each project falling within a $10,000 limit, that would likely be the only possibility.

The second presentation of the night was by CNA chair Brian Shaw, who asked council to fund a renewal of the partnership with VIU – to the tune of $10,000 for next year – so the students could continue their work developing more detailed plans going forward.

After discussion about how to proceed, it was decided the request would be considered during the upcoming 2019 Financial Planning discussions, scheduled , scheduled for early December.

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