BY BILL PHILLIPS
Mayor Lyn Hall and council are excited about all the new development that will be taking place downtown this summer.
However, they are also cognizant that all the construction will cause for delays and disruptions in the normal downtown traffic as a slew of projects get going.
“We really want to thank the residents of Prince George and our downtown businesspeople for their patience,” Hall said Friday. “I can’t tell you how excited we are around the council table and the senior administration table to be able to talk about these projects. It helps us from an economic perspective, it drives jobs, which is so important in our community.”
So what are all the projects Hall is talking about? This list is extensive:
- A new four-phase housing development with underground parking across from City Hall.
- The opening of a new Marriott hotel.
- The development of a proposed new hotel on Sixth Avenue between Quebec and Dominion Streets.
- The design and construction of a new pool to replace the Four Seasons.
- The design and construction of a new front entrance for the Bob Harkins Branch of the Prince George Public Library.
- The development of a new park next to the Wood Innovation and Design Centre.
- The completion of UNBC’s Wood Innovation Research Lab.
- A new location for the Prince George Farmers Market 1310 – Third Avenue (the intersection of Third and Quebec). The building is also the future location of a new arts-based community centre.
Over a decade ago, the city developed a concept plan, called Smart Growth on the Ground, which envisioned a path to a sustainable and vibrant downtown, Hall said. Council has made a commitment to advance, through its corporate plan, many of the ideas laid out in that strategy including incentives, events, and new facilities and services.
“We see this as a new precinct for downtown,” Hall said. “Not only does it provide housing, it provides an entertainment district, a cultural district, and a recreational district … We really wanted (the plan) to be tailor made for Prince George.”
The City of Prince George has published a web page at www.princegeorge.ca/downtown with information about the progress downtown. The page includes information on road closures and a link to downtown parking information.
Parkade construction and utility projects
- A&T Project Developments has begun construction of a city-owned parkade across from City Hall. The parkade will also serve as the foundation for a four-phase market condo development on the site.
- Starting on Monday, April 23, portions of George Street and Sixth Avenue will be permanently closed to accommodate the development. Major utility operations are also commencing to move and replace water, sanitary sewer, and storm water infrastructure. These activities will involve the replacement of some aging water pipes.
- Construction of the parkade and the relocation of utility infrastructure will require the removal of some trees at City Hall along George Street. The spruce trees will be re-planted at Duchess Park; the elm and ash trees will be used by local community organizations such as the Prince George Woodturners Guild.
- The City’s Public Art Committee will also accept applications from artists and artisans to utilize the trees in the creation of products that may be used for fundraising by local charities. The new housing development under construction across from City Hall will also include more than 100 new trees.
Permanent road closures
Starting next week, George Street between Seventh Avenue and Patricia Blvd. will be closed permanently to allow for the construction of the parkade and subsequent housing development next to City Hall.
Later this summer, Sixth Avenue between Quebec Street and Dominion Street will also be permanently closed to enable the development of a proposed new hotel.
- The following City-owned buildings are expected to be demolished this summer:
- The old RCMP building at the corner of 10th Avenue and Brunswick Street.
- The Days Inn hotel to accommodate the new pool
- The Kings Inn Bible Store to prepare the site for the proposed new hotel.
- The current Farmers Market building behind the Keg.
- Note that work associated with the demolitions is expected to cause some short-term detours on adjacent roads.
“It’s been long overdue,” Hall said of the development downtown. “There’s been a lot of discussion about it but I think we have really tapped into what downtown Prince George should truly be. One of the things that was missing was the opportunity for people to live downtown. Now with the condo development, that’s going to be key.”
It will provide 160 living units downtown.
Hall also thanked the Prince George Farmer’s Market, which will be moving to make way for a new city parkade, and the Community Arts Council, which will be moving in with the farmer’s market at the old BMO building on Third Avenue.
“To take a primary location like Third Avenue and turn that into a market is going to be great opportunity for them,” he said. “I want to thank the Community Arts Council because one of the pieces that we often talk about is what amenities to we need downtown. And one of them really is how to we bring the arts community downtown.”