With the demise of yet another Wharton Street development project, maybe we can now be three times lucky and pursue a course of action that actually benefits the community.
Here are five suggestions:
1. Let’s not transfer the land reserve to a developer. Give away prime public land — our land — and we’ll never get back. It’s a short-sighted idea that will come back to haunt us.
2. Let’s not build a multi-storey commercial centre that will sit half empty or, worse, suck the life out of Main Street. A vibrant community requires downtown storefronts each with sidewalk access.
3. If Summerland grows as projected, that patch of grass known as Memorial Park will become inadequate as the community’s central park. So let’s shelf the megalomaniac designs and simply extend the park the full length of Wharton Street. Our great grandchildren will thank us. (The museum building can stay; it’s one of the few architecturally interesting public buildings in town.)
4. Let’s find another central location for a new library, and other methods of financing, such as crowdfunding. Options are available. If a new library is made a priority like the police station was, it will get built.
5. Finally, council needs to ensure public input in the process. Otherwise, rightly or wrongly, it will be perceived their interests lie more with the developer than with the people they’re elected to represent.