The public will be able to get its first look at the future of Cow Bay on Tuesday.
The Prince Rupert Port Authority is holding an open house to show off its long-awaited development plans at the Crest Hotel from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
The designs are the fruition of work done by MacFarlane Biggar Architects & Designers which was hired by the Port Authority back in November. The Port Authority held meetings with a number of groups with a stake in the future success of the Cow Bay area – everyone from Cow Bay merchants to First Nations groups – to find out what they wanted in an expanded Cow Bay. That information was given to the architects and now the designs are ready.
“The approach to the development recognizes that it’s a critical element for the port’s success in becoming a global port that we have a community and people be a part of that and be central to our success. Attracting and retaining good people [to the city] is important, and part of that is making a more livable community,” says the port authority’s director of Trade Development, Andrew Hamilton.
So far, the full details on what the design will actually entail are being kept under wraps until they can presented to city council on Monday and to the public at large at Tuesday’s open house, where people will even be able to meet the architects.
One thing for certain is that Cow Bay will be bigger. The port authority already owns waterfront properties in the cow bay area which it plans to use, and is planning to buy from the City the land that the Atlin Terminal parking lot sits on, as well as the empty lot on the corner of Cow Bay Road and Mason Way.
Hamilton says that there were six principles that the port authority wanted the design to follow.
One, that there be public spaces with pedestrian access given the priority, be measures to calm traffic and be places for people to mingle. There’s even a market square included in the design.
Two, that it be a mixed use area with opportunities for small businesses, buildings with multiple uses and re-purposing old ones. The port authority points to Granville Island in Vancouver or the Village of Ganges on Saltspring Island as examples for how this might work.
“Obviously it needs to be a commercially viable development, but we also wanted to layer in a number of community spaces. It’s not just about the buildings, its about the spaces in between those buildings,” says Hamilton.
The third principle for the new development is that there should be something going on in Cow Bay all year round during the day and night. Hamilton says they want it to be a space that people feel they can go and enjoy outside of the 9:00 am to 5:00 pm business day.
Four, they want to area to have a “sense of place” and show off the local ecology, history and art of Prince Rupert.
The port authority says that its important for the new Cow Bay design to encourage use of the waterfront. They want to make the waterfront easily accessible to the public, and encourage it’s use for fishing, tourism, patios and light industry operations.
“We realize that’s really core to the identity of Prince Rupert, that interaction between water and land, that’s whop we are as a community,” says Hamilton.
The last principle isn’t so much about the design but about what happens after everything is built. The port wants to make sure the area has “good management” and is looking again for ideas from other places such as Granville Island on how to make sure Cow Bay will encourage fun and social interaction. A large part of this will involve a collaboration with the City of Prince Rupert, says Hamilton.
But not everything along Prince Rupert’s waterfront seems to fit into vision a expanded, more gentrified, pedestrian shopping district Cow Bay. The area also contains many different industrial operations such as boat builders, machinists, auto repairs, propane dealership and more.
“This is one of the elements the architects have embraced. They don’t want us to lose that grittiness, that’s part of our living heritage. That’s something we want to involve into the design and development. The trick is how to make these two things synergetic,” says Hamilton.
How all of this will be paid for is something that still needs to be worked out. While the port authority will be presenting the plans to city council on Monday, they won’t be asking for anything from the city. Hamilton says that figuring out all the financials is the next step but says the resulting commercial buildings and rental fees will help pay for a lot of the cost.