City moves forward with downtown revitalization plan


Over a year ago, Chilliwack City Council voted unanimously to adopt a redevelopment concept put forward by the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee. As part of this concept, the City is actively pursuing improvements to downtown Chilliwack.

Construction commenced on Mill Street on January 27, 2014 to convert the street to one way traffic. This enables the sidewalk on the west side of the street to be widened while maintaining the number of on street parking spaces. This project was developed in close cooperation with local merchants and the Downtown Business Improvement Association. It has an estimated completion date of April 15, 2014.

On February 18, the Unsightly and Vacant Premises Bylaw, which is another important step in the approved revitalization plan, received introductory and first reading at regular Council. This bylaw will create a permit system, which will be substantial enough to be a deterrent to building owners who want to keep their buildings vacant long-term with no intention to use, improve or redevelop. Although this bylaw was initiated by the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee, ultimately all of Chilliwack will benefit.

Through the extensive public planning process in 2010, residents approved a vision of downtown Chilliwack as an attractive, vibrant and safe neighbourhood. Part of this multifaceted revitalization plan included having the City of Chilliwack acquire several properties in the downtown core to be packaged for future development of mixed-use residential and commercial space. By assembling these properties, the City is making it more attractive for private developers to invest in downtown Chilliwack.

As part of this process, on February 24 the building located at 9282 Young Road will be removed. This building, which was previously purchased by the City of Chilliwack, has been empty for a decade and is in extremely poor condition.

"This is an important step forward in the redevelopment of our downtown," said Mayor Gaetz. "Some patience is required while we pursue this long term vision, but by assembling this land we are accelerating the process towards positive change."

Throughout the revitalization process, public realm improvements will continue to take place. Shortly following the building deconstruction, an interim courtyard area will be developed. In 2014 extensive greening activities will also take place along Main Street from Wellington to the Museum. Hanging baskets, sidewalk bulges with low growing foliage and more will enhance the entire downtown area.

"We envision a vibrant bustling neighbourhood where people live just steps away from unique shops, restaurants, and entertainment," said Mayor Gaetz, noting a similarity between the vision for downtown and the highly successful Garrison Crossing neighbourhood.