Stayner downtown plan encourages pedestrians
A presentation of the Stayner downtown open space improvement plan was slipped in before Monday’s council meeting. With little promotion and the midday timeslot only about eight members of the public were in attendance, along with many members of township staff. Everyone we talked to seemed to agree the concepts look great.
Landscape architect Stefan Bolliger went through a slide presentation of his firm’s ideas for the development of public space in the downtown core, specifically around town hall.
Bolliger presented three concepts all hinging on the development and beautification of a block of land south of Highway 26, around Perry, Gideon and Huron streets. The ideas include developing Station Park and the area across from the Clearview Township Administrative Centre to include a splash pad that could double as a skating rink in the winter, a fountain, stage, market square and picnic pavilion. There would be a pedestrian gateway to the main street and an overall push for beautification in the downtown.
Another idea is to use part of the library, once the new Stayner branch is open, as a tourism information centre and putting a new façade on the museum building to make it look like an old train station.
No dollar figures were given. Bolliger said he wouldn’t be getting into all that but costs were addressed in the full report, which was not shared.
The idea is to make the downtown more appealing to pedestrians by laying interlocking bricks on widened sidewalks, adding a Highway 26 pedestrian crossing, lighting and trails. There is also a desire to calm traffic, because it is so hard to get across the highway, by widening parts of the sidewalk to create so called bump-outs.
Because Stayner’s main street is a provincial highway, it causes complications, but Bolliger said they are not insurmountable.
“This is a great idea and I love the plan,” said Stayner resident Bob Charlton. He was concerned about parking but was assured that more spots will be added than removed from the main street to accommodate the bump outs. Bolliger said all the parking is within a two to three minute walk of the downtown. It is hoped that when people have to walk a little bit it will enhance their downtown experience.
Councillor Shawn Davidson said even a 45-second walk could result in someone going into another shop or running into a friend and going to a café.
“Then they’ve had an experience and that’s what this is about, heightening the experience in our community,” he said adding that the concept can proceed without buying more land. There are options included for buying other land and even developing commercial buildings. “I think we are in a good position with this plan without acquiring those properties.”
Home Hardware owner Lisa Squire said she likes the plan because she is happy to see that people will be able to cross the road.
“I fear for people’s lives every day trying to cross the street doing U-turns. People have asked us if we could build a Weber’s bridge,” she said referring to the pedestrian bridge that crosses Highway 11 to Webers restaurant.
Councillor Doug Measures said the whole plan would change if there as a Stayner bypass and he worries that the changes would make it frustrating for motorists who would just find a way to avoid Stayner altogether.
Part of the property was purchased to be used as library lands but plans changed when council approved the construction of the Stayner branch as an addition to the arena.
The township purchased the property at 220 Huron St. in 2013 at a cost of $184,000 and purchased the Perry/Gideon Street property across from town hall, in 2014 at a cost of $451,145, including related expenses.
CAO Steve Sage said some money for the project has already been set aside.
There is $250,000 in the 2018 budget, set to be funded from the Federal Gas Tax grant.