The strong effort made by Sidney’s mayoral task force on downtown revitilization cannot be denied but their top 16 recommendations accepted by town council Monday night will continue to get mixed reviews at best.
Taking any talk of making Beacon Avenue a two-way street off the table (this council has stated it is not going to go for that), signage was a high priority for this task force and a citizen watchdog group. Signs that direct people into the downtown core have been deemed essential by most of the dogs in this fight and plans for improvements have been on the Town’s books for more than a year. Of course, proponents of the two-way street would say once the signs get people here, the one-way system drives them out — but again, that’s not on the agenda.
From signage plans, the report’s recommendations become more, well, iffy.
Council was clear Monday that ideas for reduced business tax rates, commercial incentives and even an infrared pedestrian counter are points for further debate and are not written in stone.
The remaining recommendations are items the Town has had in the works prior to the task force being formed (street line painting, Port Sidney Marina discussions, as well as a focus on downtown higher density development and incentives).
On the surface, then, it appears the task force report is an endorsement of work the Town has already done. That raises more questions in this, an election year.
If that’s the case, there’s little that’s new here for local businesses and Councillor Tim Chad is right to seek additional consultation on these recommendations.
All is not lost, however. The prolific task force came up with 63 additional ideas that hold great potential. They, like the top 16, will require community and business buy-in and a lot of long-term planning to succeed.
If the energy of this task force is any indication, that should not be a problem.