CR Youth: Downtown ‘bland, outdated, lacking in colour’

Youth on downtown: Liven it up with cafes, etc.

Street entertainment, food vendors, public art, more street trees.

Those are just some of the things Campbell River youth would like to see city council take into consideration as it develops its downtown revitalization plan.

Those interventions were compiled by the city’s Youth Action Committee which surveyed 552 students from local middle and high schools in developing its vision.

Nigel Neufeld, chair of the youth committee, said the purpose of the survey was to gather ideas and recommendations to bring to council and provide a youth perspective on what young people would like to see in the community, specifically downtown.

“We would like to recommend that council takes one or more of our recommendations and consider them in the downtown revitalization discussions that are taking place,” Neufeld said during a presentation to city council at its Monday night meeting.

Downtown revitalization is a strategic priority for council which has undertaken a number of planning exercises recently.  Members of the Youth Action Committee did a walking tour of the downtown core to try and assist council.

Meara Spiers, a committee member, said youth reported that downtown is “bland, outdated, lacking in colour, and has large quantities of pavement.” Having said that, youth also found it has “lots of potential.”

She said youth determined that the city’s downtown could be livened up by things like pop up cafes and food trucks, public art such as painted crosswalks near the Tidemark and Spirit Square, and live streets where Shoppers Row in front of the Tidemark is closed once a week in the summer for markets and music. Medium-scale interventions included lighting of street trees, and more gathering places with tables, umbrellas and chairs.

The youth also recommended large-scale improvements such as a redesign of alleyways to brighten them up, new entrances into downtown to create a sense of arrival and more green space in Tyee Plaza.

After listening to the Youth Action Committee’s recommendations, council congratulated them on a job well done.

“I really want to applaud you for your presentation tonight and your work in bringing forward some great initiatives for the downtown,” Mayor Andy Adams said. “Very impressive you got over 550 survey participants. That’s excellent and speaks volumes to the support you have for these initiatives.”

Coun. Ron Kerr said he too was impressed with the ideas the youth came up with for creating a stimulating and vibrant downtown.

“I don’t know what my expectation was but I didn’t see a recommendation that you made that I couldn’t whole-heartedly agree with,” Kerr said. “I know we’ve been talking about a lot of great ideas for a lot of years and it’s great to see some young energy and perhaps a different slant on those initiatives.”

Coun. Colleen Evans said the youths’ perspective lined up with the wants and visions for the community of other groups.

“Bland was a word I think that really resonated with me but what I love about it was you saw a lot of potential and I believe that’s what you’re presenting here,” Evans said. “It’s so nice to see that as a youth group there’s alignment with seniors and other groups in the community.”

Council promised the youth that their perspectives and recommendations would be taken into account and incorporated in council’s downtown planning initiatives and directed city staff to present to the committee the outcome of its recommendations for downtown.