The situation we are currently experiencing has underlined many challenges and opportunities in our community. As we will continue to stay local, the lack of easily accessible outdoor public space, will continue to be a civic challenge.
The recent reconfiguration on Oak Bay Avenue is a good example of how much more enjoyable and vibrant civic life is when people and pedestrians are given priority in the heart our community, over cars and parking. The widening of sidewalks and traffic calming measures are great additions to our community and should be made permanent.
In my mind, the front lawns of the Municipal Hall, facing the Avenue, should be redeveloped completely as a park and town square. The lawn is pretty but not accessible to all. This area can be completely redesigned to encourage the public to casually gather throughout the year, away from the street. It could also serve as a place for public events such as music and a focus for the usual civic events like the Christmas Light-Up.
Built accessibly, for all ages and abilities, with seating and landscaping, this spot could easily become the focal point of the Avenue. Neighbour meeting neighbour in a free public space, helps to build a stronger, healthier, more resilient and connected community.
In the short term, as we head into another stay local summer, benches should be installed about the lawn for the public. I ask mayor and council to direct staff to begin the design process for what can be a wonderful and, in the scheme of things, relatively economical addition to the community.