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Prince Rupert Mayor reveals design plans for waterfront access

Although Prince Rupert is a city on an island, there is no easily accessible public area to touch the water, that could soon change.
On Feb. 23

Despite being a city on an island, there is no easily accessible public area to touch the water, but the municipality presented its finalized design plans on how that could all change.

Following engagement sessions with the public in November, the city presented the final edition of its design plan on a 17-foot map to the Rotary Club of Prince Rupert on Thursday. Speaking to members of the goodwill organization, Mayor Lee Brain described the 10 major design concepts that will cultivate more public spaces in the downtown core and more opportunities to enjoy Kaien Island's waterfront.

“Taking the time to plan ahead for our waterfront and downtown is a step toward securing future funding opportunities,” Mayor Lee Brain said. “It's also intended to inspire developers, community groups and residents about available and attractive areas for potential investment and development.”

If funding is secured, some of these designs could become a reality. There is a 'festival square' near City Hall, with increased accessibility for pedestrians; the 'waterfront village' and park at Seal Cove; a waterfront landing by the Kwinitsa train station. There is also a concept for a new airport ferry dock near the Rotary Waterfront Park.

Brain detailed the 'Rupert's Landing' design, at the Rotary Waterfront Park, which incorporates public access to the water. However, this plan hinges on ongoing negotiations with CN to regain access to the strip of beach the company fenced off last October.

The designs for the city were led by Toronto-based firm, the Planning Partnership. A four-person team, toured the area the end of November and held more than 20 meetings, including three public presentations.

Taxpayers did not foot the bill for this design process. A $75,000 grant from Northern Development Initiative Trust to hire the designers was announced last October.

“We were in awe of the majestic landscape that surrounds Prince Rupert and the breathtaking views, and are excited about the opportunities to reconnect downtown to the waterfront,” Donna Hinde said, the lead architect at the Planning Partnership.

“We loved working with the community — full of passionate people with fantastic ideas and deep roots in Prince Rupert. We have no doubt that everyone in Prince Rupert will soon be doing their part to help bring the vision to life,” she said.

There have already been a few plans that are edging closer to reality. Last week, the city announced its agreement with the Kaien Island Trail Enhancement Society that will see the restoration of the Rushbrook Trail by the end of this year.

“This plan is all about connecting everything,” Brain said, as he described walkways through the city that lead to the water, and trails that skirt the coast from Rushbrook to Seal Cove.

The mayor also hinted that plans for Seal Cove are gaining legs, but he wouldn't say much more than that.

Third Avenue is also getting a facelift this year. Thursday morning, the province announced a $3.94-million contract to pave Second Avenue from McClymont Bridge to the BC Ferries Terminal. The city is piggy backing off the province's commitment to repave Third Avenue West and raise mainholes at a reduction in cost.

The final edition of the map will be available to view on the City of Prince Rupert's website.