January 24th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 24
Community members weigh in on Coleman revitalization plans
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Herald Contributor
Mockup for Coleman Revitalization Project.
Pass Herald Reporter
The municipality’s Coleman Revitalization Project has the potential to affect all of Crowsnest Pass by sprucing up the downtown core and attracting tourism to the area.

But that’s an exciting outcome that may come to fruition only following the several inevitable months of major construction, and some businesses are worried that they are in the line of fire.

At an open house on January 4, the municipality communicated their plans to replace underground infrastructure in need of repair in downtown Coleman, including road curbs, wastewater drains, storm pipes and gutter on the road. The project limits are 17 Avenue between 76 and 79 Street and 77 Street between 17 and 19 Avenue. Two visual concepts for streetscaping – a softscape and hardscape-focused design - were also presented.

The municipality has warned that there will be mandatory road closures and utility shutoffs in the area as part of the construction, which has some business owners worried.

Dawn Rigby is the owner of Country Encounters Accommodations, a 22-guest bed & breakfast and catering service on 17 Ave. The establishment will be directly affected by the construction.

Although Rigby says she recognizes that renovation of the downtown core is “desperately” needed, she worries about the implications it will have on running her business.
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“My sidewalks are crumbling,” she says. “The work has to be done, there’s no question, but it needs to be done in a fashion that keeps our disruption to a minimum. I’m really tired of tourists saying, ‘It could be a really cute town, but it’s unfortunate that everything is falling apart.’ But my big concern is how do I get the food from my kitchen to my van to the location. A schedule has to be laid out and communicated to those of us who have to live with this construction and still carry on with our daily lives.”

Country Encounters already has a full summer of commitments. They serve just over 100,000 meals a year and 60 percent are between the beginning of June and the end of September. Rigby already has 32 weddings booked between June and September, and on top of that, has made commitments to cater the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre sleepover program in May and June.

She says the sooner she knows the timelines for the project, the better she can plan ahead and perhaps reach a common ground with the municipality. She worries for basic logistics like how her bed & breakfast guests are going to access the building, detour signage for tourists, where guests and her staff would be able to park, how to transport heavy hotboxes of meals from the kitchen to the van.

She says more communication is needed between the municipality and businessowners when it comes to project timelines. At this time, no one from the municipality has officially spoken to her as a directly affected stakeholder.

“Unfortunately, information is not forthcoming. I have no idea when they’re going to start, when they’re proposing to be done and how exactly they’re going to do this,” she says.
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On the visual side of things, Rigby says she recognizes the aesthetic appeal of extended gardens, but worries about accessibility and parking.

“Both concepts are very pretty,” she says, “but the one with the extended gardens will make my life impossible. I would lose so much parking and I wouldn’t be able to load outside my door.”

The Crowsnest Pass Chamber of Commerce says that they recognize the concerns coming from businesses and have put together a subcommittee to investigate how consequences could be mitigated. Their goal is to lessen the impact on businesses, to help them continue being successful and to help them through the construction phase.

“The Chamber would like to come forward with some suggestions or ideas for the municipality and ways to mitigate the effects of construction on the business community in that area,” says Jackie Woodman, office manager with the Chamber. “We are looking at what other municipalities have done in terms of construction mitigation and will compile a document for best practices in that area. We are also looking to create a “construction survival guide” for our business community.”

The Chamber has already met with businesses in downtown Coleman and is considering their concerns, which range from parking for customers and deliveries, maintaining planters long-term, water and power shutoffs and to preserving a “heritage look” of the area, which has been designated a national historic site.

“We heard a concern about the light posts and making sure that they aren’t made to look to modern, that they keep a heritage look to them. There was also a concern about consistency and continuity. They are tearing up the main street and going towards Flumerfelt, but the street that the museum and APP Barracks are on will not be redone, so there was a concern about consistency.”

The chamber also heard a desire for concrete timelines.

“How do you budget for the loss of revenue if you don’t even know when it’s going to hit you? The municipality is in the planning stages, but the sooner they can get this information out, the sooner and better businesses can plan for it.”

The project proposal can be viewed on the municipality’s website at https://www.crowsnestpass.com/doing-business/doing-business/downtown-coleman-streetscape-revitalization-public-open-house. More detailed coverage of the Coleman Revitalization Project is available in the January 10 issue of the Pass Herald.
January 24th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 24
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