CR Live Streets will expand yet again next year after council added $9,000 for a sixth event to the budget, but that’s only one of many improvements planned for the downtown core this year. Photo courtesy City of Campbell River

City of Campbell River approves 2020 Downtown Small Initiatives projects

A sixth event for CR Live Streets, new bike racks, garbage cans and more coming to downtown

The City of Campbell River’s downtown revitalization efforts will be bolstered by a new series of “small initiatives” and the expansion of existing strategies such as CR Live Streets

Last year marked the fourth year of the city’s Downtown Small Initiatives Program, according to a report received by city council at its most recent public meeting. These initiatives are budgeted at well under $100,000 in total each year, but make a huge difference to the public experience in the downtown core, the report says.

Last year’s initiatives included the continuation of the city’s CR Live Streets series, as well as the installation of canopy lighting at the Tidemark Theatre, customized waste receptacles – as well as cigarette disposals – on Upper Shoppers Row, new bike racks on 11th Avenue and a new parklet at the old Grey Dog Diner, all for under $70,000, the majority of which was for the five events in the CR Live Streets Series.

That series is being expanded in 2020, as the city says it has become a major driver in bringing people to the area.

Last year, the initiative’s Art Battle event had 786 attendees, according to the recent report, compared to 487 the year before – a 61 per cent increase.

Chalkfest’s attendance increased even more – 900 people took in the event in 2019, compared to 147 in 2018 – and Music in the Night also saw attendance more than double, from 330 in 2018 to 753 last year.

“A survey that was conducted with event participants during the event series found that 48 per cent of respondents would not come downtown if no event was offered,” the report reads. “On the other hand, 69 per cent said that the CR Live Streets events made them feel more positive about coming downtown, and 91 per cent are now more likely to attend other events downtown.”

The city has confirmed that an additional night will be added to the series this year – and has included it in the Downtown Small Initiatives Program budget – but has yet to reveal what that event will be. That will bring this year’s total to six, and it began as only three events just four years ago.

RELATED: City to expand CR Live Streets offerings in 2020

Other budget items in this year’s Downtown Small Initiatives Program include continuing to install new waste receptacles and cigarette disposals, new bike racks at 11th avenue and Cypress Street, and landscaping upgrades – including street trees and/or planters on Cypress Street and a pop-up library pilot this spring/summer.

Mayor Andy Adams asked if there was a way to include more lighting improvements into the initiative in an effort to increase safety downtown at night, but city senior planner Chris Osborne says that would need to be considered in future years, as there is no room in the current budget for any additions.

“That said, occasionally there are additional projects that take place outside of this specific funding,” Osborne says. “We also have the downtown Façade and Signage Incentive Program, and lighting improvements are eligible activities within that initiative, so there are a number of avenues through which lighting throughout downtown could be increased this year.”

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