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Planners picked for downtown revitalization

The Downtown Opportunities and Action Committee has awarded the contract to revitalize downtown to a Kelowna-based company.

The Downtown Opportunities and Action Committee has awarded the contract to revitalize downtown to a Kelowna-based company.

MMM Group Limited was unanimously selected by the committee last Thursday due to their “fantastic presentation,” according to Kevin Jolly, committee chair, after a final meeting with the group earlier that day.

“We were able to flesh out the level of engagement they’re going to be bringing to the planning process and that’s what really impressed us,” he said.

“They’re really keyed in on our challenges and they have a really good understanding — cursory level of course — of where we want to go and they’re flexible, willing to work with us on our plan.”

MMM will begin information gathering at an open house in the fall, working closely with downtown groups and businesses and using social media to engage other members of the public outside of the downtown core.

Once completed, the study could be released to residents by the end of this year. A total of $85,000 has been allocated for the study.

“It was very comprehensive in nature, they take all key factors into consideration and it was a very collaborative process,” Jolly said. “What’s really important to know here is that this isn’t just another study … What we’re talking about now is planners, landscape architects, people who do urban design.

“We’re getting to a place where we’re talking about and planning out what the future holds for this city and where we want to go. And they’re the people we felt could do the best job.”

City council signaled their approval at a regular council meeting on July 18. Two other submissions were considered besides MMM.

According to councilor Al Graham, the study will help the city if they choose to apply for grant funding from the provincial and federal governments to help revitalize downtown.

“It plays a major role if you’re going to be applying for any grant subsidization, they want to see all your business plans and feasibility studies and everything else so if you haven’t got that they say, ‘Oh thanks, but no thanks,’ because they don’t consider that doing your due diligence, investigating an investment before you go out asking for assistance.”

He added that he assumed the city would be applying for government funding when the time came to start on bigger revitalization projects.

The city is already moving ahead with some aspects of revitalization, the elements of which will be factored into the group’s final package.

The study will include traffic pattern analysis, parking, streetscape improvements, design guidelines and infrastructure assessment, among other things.

“This will be the overall complete plan that will give us direction for the upcoming three or four years,” Graham concluded.