The Town of Borden-Carleton wants more people who come into P.E.I. on the Confederation Bridge to spend time in the town — instead of just driving by. The town is looking at ways to make Borden-Carleton more attractive to tourists.

At a public meeting Tuesday night, Halifax-based planning firm Ekistics Planning and Design presented a draft spatial plan meant to increase tourism in the coming decades.

'There's no reason to stop right now when you get off the bridge.' - Matthew Brown, Ekistics Planning and Design

"I think it was fantastic. I'm excited about what's going to happen in Borden-Carleton because I think that there is a lot of potential here, and we are unique on this Island," said town resident Connie Doerksen.

The plan has a long-term outlook. The idea is that it could be implemented over the next 20 or 30 years — with some shorter term goals as well.

First impressions

One of the focal points of the plan is improving the first impression for people driving by.

"The challenge for me in Borden-Carleton is that there's no reason to stop right now when you get off the bridge," said Ekistics planner Matthew Brown, who presented the plan during the meeting.

Borden-Carleton fields

The plan suggests replacing lawns and fences with an agrarian look more evocative of the P.E.I. landscape. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Brown said the grass and chain link fences people see when they come off the bridge aren't evocative of the landscape of P.E.I. He suggested instead that the lawns could be replaced with fields.

"So that as soon as you get off the bridge, you say 'hey, this is Prince Edward Island, and there's a really interesting community that I want to visit.'"

'Great potential'

The plan suggests a number of things that can be done using the assets the town already has. That includes Gateway Village — which Brown hopes can be tied into the town more, eventually becoming the equivalent of the town's main street, where locals will shop and spend time.

Brown also suggested the fabrication yards could be repurposed into a community space, while keeping the current look intact.

Fabrication yards plan

The plan suggests repurposing the fabrication yards for a community space. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"The fabrication yards which have been empty for 20 years, which could be an eyesore to some, actually have great potential in what other people want to see. It's one of the most unique and interesting landscapes that I've experienced in Atlantic Canada," said Brown.

Mayor optimistic 

Mayor Dean Sexton said he is very pleased with the plan, and he hopes it will help to rebuild the population and economy or Borden-Carleton in the long run.

Dean Sexton

Dean Sexton, Mayor of Borden-Carleton, said he hopes with increased tourism and improvements to the town, the population will increase in the decades to come. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"If we bring all these changes forward and get the necessary services here, and get the people who work in Borden-Carleton moving to this area, I think we will substantially increase our population. And once we get our population increased, then we'll be able to improve much needed services."

Sexton said he hopes to eventually see a bank, pharmacy and doctor in town — though he said changes won't happen overnight.

Next steps

Ekistics, along with a town committee, will now review the plan and make any adjustments based on feedback. They will then develop a detailed plan for how to implement some of the ideas.

"What we hope is that after this is all said and done, the town has kind of the first three steps they need," said Brown.

Connie Doerksen Borden-Carleton meeting

Connie Doerksen (right) said she is optimistic about the plan. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Doerksen said she's hopeful, and excited to see some of the changes begin.

"You know, when you come across the bridge, yeah we have the ugly chain link fences, but when you see that Noonan shore with those waves, it does excite you. And if we pretty up the rest of it, my gosh, there's just no end to what Borden-Carleton can be."