A vision for Miramichi's downtowns: More green and residential space

Miramichi is looking to get a bit of a facelift with a strategic development plan that could see more recreation and public space for residents.

City asks seeks public's views on how two downtowns can be revitalized

Miramichi Mayor Adam Lordon says the city is looking for public input into the redevelopment of the two downtowns. (CBC)

Miramichi is looking to get a bit of a facelift with a strategic development plan that could see more recreation and public space for residents.

The city at the mouth of the Miramichi River was formed by the amalgamation of two towns, Chatham and Newcastle, and several smaller communities and has two downtowns  and two waterfronts.

Miramichi Mayor Adam Lordon said both downtowns come out of an industrial era that no longer exists. 

"We're looking to see what else people would like to see down there and what relationship they would like to have with their downtowns and waterfronts," Lordon said.

A community vision

Moncton-based Trace Planning and Design has been hired to put together a revitalization plan with $146,000 from the province and $150,000 from the city. 

This fall, Trace and the city have held public sessions to get the community involved in the discussion. There have also been meetings with downtown business owners, stakeholders and local schools.

A stronger economy

So far, residents are looking for more green space along the waterfronts, as well as walking trails.

"People are always looking for opportunities to gather and to really relate with the waterfront and the river," Lordon said.  

The mayor said the city is also looking to inject more residential development into the downtown.

"That's something that's quite frankly, lacking at this time," he said.

People are always looking for opportunities to gather and to really relate with the waterfront and the river.- Adam Lordon, Miramichi mayor

He said there are also contaminated brownfield sites in the area, which would require remediation before being redeveloped.

Some of the plan's short-term recommendations should be completed by the end of the year, and the final plan is to be completed by early 2019.

Lordon said the the local economy has been getting stronger in recent years, with downtown shops opening up and the federal pay centre adding more than 1,000 jobs to the area.

The city has also seen more people retiring and young people returning home to raise their families.

"Our economy is the strongest it's been in decades," he said.

Redevelopment a 'huge priority'

Lordon said the redevelopment of Miramichi's two downtowns has always been a "huge priority" for council. The restoration of Queen Elizabeth Park and Ritchie Wharf and the renewal of the Miramichi's Station Wharf were part of those plans.

The mayor wants members of the public to share their thoughts on how the two downtowns should look over the next 20 years.

The next public consultation will take place at the Rodd Miramichi Hotel in Chatham's downtown on Wednesday.

"We want to build this also on a base of asking the public what they'd like to see and having a community-wide vision that everyone feels we share together," he said.

With files from Information Morning Moncton