Trail’s civic plaza concept has progressed with a recent downtown property purchase, but it’s likely that it won’t gain momentum until next year.
The city purchased the Eagles Hall for $335,000 in May and expects to tear the building down, open it up and look at the development of the downtown civic plaza concept.
“It was bought awhile ago because it was consistent with the downtown action plan, but nothing is going to be done this year other than internal, environmental work,” Trail’s chief administrative officer David Perehudoff said.
“There’s some asbestos in the drywall so we’ll remove that this year, and most likely the building will be taken down next year.”
Despite the sale, the downtown civic plaza project has been placed on the back burner in an attempt to fast-track the Gateway project along Victoria Avenue.
“I want to see that done before the snow falls,” councillor Kevin Jolly said about the Gateway. “Our focus hasn’t changed.
Our goal is to bring people downtown—that’s the highest visibility—and we’re firmly committed to creating an attractive gateway, or entrance point, to get there.”
Jolly was pleased with its current progress, including the Trail Memorial Centre’s exterior being painted and the A&W storefront being developed.
He was also eager to find a way to beautify Bay Avenue.
“I think the real story here is what is the entry point to town going to look like,” he concluded. “That’s the eye-catcher right now.”
The civic downtown plaza is dependent on a seasonal strategy, one which could be greatly influenced with the recent success of the Esplanade Market in Trail.
After only four market days, the Trail District and Chamber of Commerce went from hosting 15 vendors to 37. According to Maggie Stayanovich, the executive director of the Trail and District Chamber of Commerce, an average of 500 people attend the market biweekly and the numbers continue to grow.
“We definitely have more room to grow,” Stayanovich said. “The opportunity is there. We could probably get 60 vendors in there—it just depends how creative you want to be.”
While Stayanovich is pleased with the success of this year’s market, she admitted that the Trail District and Chamber of Commerce hasn’t evaluated the impacts the development could have when ground breaks on the plaza concept.
Not everybody was neutral about the idea.
“It’s going to be a space issue. If we get to a place where we have 50 vendors and we’re doing a development, there’s going to have to be some give and take,” explained Jolly. “Until you map out the site and know what’s going to be built there, it’s hard to determine what space will be available.”
Jolly declared it was “premature” to determine what could happen to the market until more research has been completed, although his personal opinion was that moving the market would be a “strategic mistake.”
“The market has been a real success and we’re very happy with how that’s going,” he said. “It’s working well the way it is right now, and we’re happy with the success that we’ve had so far.
“A lot of the positive feedback we’ve been getting is around the setting so we’ll do what we can to try and maintain its current location,” he concluded.