Fort William Rd. corridor gets public input on improvements

A number of Thunder Bay residents want to see several changes to one of the city's main thoroughfares.
A drawing of the consultant's plan for the Fort William route was posted along one wall. People wrote ideas on sticky notes and posted them in appropriate areas along the route. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

A number of Thunder Bay residents want to see several changes to one of the city's main thoroughfares.

They gave their input at a Wednesday night meeting on the city`s plan to redevelop and beautify the Fort William Road corridor.

About 80 people came to add their ideas to the city's vision of refurbishing the stretch from Cumberland Street to Simpson Street.

George Orlesky says he`s concerned with what projects like renewing the Fort William corridor will cost. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

Svetlana Zeran said the route should be more aesthetically pleasing.

“I would just like to see more green and less grey, because there's so much concrete and it sort of boxes you in,” she said.

“I think that more public art projects and murals are needed.”

For Randy Taylor, making the eight-kilometre stretch more appealing to pedestrians and cyclists is at the top of his list.

“There [are] a lot of people like me who bike, who walk and jog, and it's ... awkward,” he said.

“Wherever possible [there should be] wider streets, bike lanes, [and] more bike paths.”

People were urged by meeting organizers to "dream big" with their ideas.

'Dreaming big'

  • "Roundabouts are amazing and I think [with] roundabouts you can plant things in the middle and traffic just goes smoother, and you can still have the cycling paths and everything." Amber Brant
  • "I think we all want trees, bicycle pathways, little centres along the way that will be a spot that you enjoy — you're not necessarily at the marina yet, so that it is for the community to enjoy, and not just for tourism." David Curtis

But George Orlesky said he`s concerned with what projects like these will cost.

“Everybody figures 'oh, we need it, we need to pay for it,” he said.

“But we need a lot of things, and this is not one of them.”

City officials said the cost will be spread out over a long period of time — and complete redevelopment will likely take up to 20 years.

'What do they want to see?'

Ideas from residents will be added to a consultant's report, which will go to the Clean, Green, and Beautiful committee.

“I think it`s really important that the community step forward,” said committee chair Rebecca Johnson.

“It`s their community, it`s their streets. What do they want to see on there as we develop that in the next … 10 to 20 years?”

The meeting, which took place at Mariner's Hall at Prince Arthur's Landing, also featured a presentation from consulting firm Brook McIlroy. Their ideas included things like more greenery, public art and improved pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure, as well as widening sidewalks. They also promoted improving connections between the route and the waterfront itself.

The city said the vision that's being developed will set guidelines that will assist developers, architects, landscape architects, urban designers and professional planners when developing future site plan applications along that route.

“We would look at this in bits and pieces,” Johnson said.

“Implementation will take a period of time, a period of years. But we'll work it in to what the budgets are of the day."


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