Campbell Riverites feel downtown buildings and storefronts are rundown and outdated, according to a recent survey conducted by the city.
The survey attracted 920 respondents (68 of whom were downtown business owners) who were asked 10 questions about what they like and don’t like about the city’s downtown core.
While survey respondents said they didn’t like the outdated look of the downtown storefronts, they also reported a lack of restaurants and pubs; that businesses close too early; that downtown is dark and unfriendly at night; the Tyee Plaza lot and back of the building facing the ferry is unattractive; and that there are safety concerns regarding homelessness, panhandling, drinking and drug use on streets near the library.
The survey also found, however, a number of positives within the downtown core including Spirit Square and street events; restaurants with patios; the Art Gallery and Tidemark Theatre; the trees, flowers and greenery; free parking; everything being in walking distance; access to the waterfront; and the unique shops.
The survey is part of the city’s Refresh Downtown initiative aimed at promoting downtown as a place to live and do business.
Brian McLoughlin, the city’s clerk technician, said city staff will take what it heard from the downtown survey “to create the streetscapes and sections that capture the design solutions for the various blocks, lanes, open spaces and streets of downtown.”
McLoughlin said that when it came to how residents would like to see downtown designed, a West Coast theme – which involves warm colours, wood features, and natural materials – was “overwhelmingly preferred.”
When it comes to streetscape improvements for downtown, the highest ranked element was outdoor seating such as bistro chairs on sidewalks or outside of cafes.
Survey respondents said Shoppers Row from St.Ann’s to 16th Avenue and Dogwood is most in need of streetscape improvements, including better landscaping and pedestrian-friendly elements.
“A streetscape design which prioritizes pedestrian activity was ranked highest out of six options for the downtown,” McLoughlin said. “The next highest ranked options strongly emphasized street trees and sidewalk activity (such as seating and entertainment).”
Those who took the survey also recommended a list of programs and events the city could offer to attract more people downtown.
Those included: music festivals or concerts; beer gardens; food trucks and food vendors; more shopping and stores staying open later; more street markets with road closures; a program to help the homeless; more family friendly events; and more events at Spirit Square.