‘Perfect storm’ supports opportunity to refocus Trail’s downtown

A group committed to giving downtown a stronger pulse has heard from residents and now awaits a report that will make recommendations on rejuvenating Trail.

A group committed to giving downtown a stronger pulse has heard from residents and now awaits a report that will make recommendations on rejuvenating Trail.

The Downtown Opportunities and Action Committee collected public feedback at a workshop Monday and now leave it up to MMA Group Limited to complete an $85,000 study that will include recommendations. The report is expected to be finalized as early as January.

About 75 people turned up for the interactive meeting, where participants weighed what they liked about their city’s core and where improvements need to be made.

The Esplanade was identified as an area that is underutilized; parking inventory was highlighted as a priority along with creating a gathering space and the need for more options when it comes to restaurants, shopping and culture.

“It’s chicken and egg,” said chair Kevin Jolly, pointing to demand creating the need for development. “What we really need to look at is reconfiguration because if we can put the people in the downtown and have them on foot, then all of a sudden you have businesses springing up to service the population.”

Mixed use – pairing commercial with residential space – is the type of solution residents can expect to come from the consultants, who feel that Trail has “good bones” or infrastructure to build on but just needs a strong vision for its centre in order to capitalize on its existing assets and attract new business and people.

“Personally, I believe this is a centre of excellence for industry,” said Jolly.

“Industry is what built Trail and I believe long-term industry is what will carry Trail into the future.”

Jolly points to some of the business “clusters” that are popping up in the Silver City, which are welcomed and supported by big business like Teck.

Just outside the city, industrial land has already captured the attention of 5N Plus Trail, a growing company that decided to set up a larger local facility because it receives critical raw materials from Teck.

Formerly known as Firebird, the homegrown firm that spun off in the early 1990s from Teck’s research division grows high-quality indium antimonide crystals that are sold as wafers and further refined into components for highly sensitive heat cameras, infrared windows and infrared missile systems.

The timing is bang on to come out with a report, said Jolly, who adds there is a short window of opportunity to create a strategic plan that supports business already rooted in the city.

“We’ve got this expansion on the hill – a $200-million expansion that was just announced – coupled with the (Waneta expansion) project and all of a sudden you’ve got 500 jobs or so happening here in the next few years,” he said. “There are about 150 to 250 people a year that need to be replaced at Teck, which makes this perfect storm of conditions to renew and revitalize your community.”

Residents who did not get a chance to participate in the workshop this week are asked to give their two cents online at www.trail.ca or check out the “City of Trail Downtown Plan” on Facebook.