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North Bay waterfront plan inches forward

City looks to private and public sector to play roles in master plan process
Waterfront 2
North Bay waterfront

This fall, the City of North Bay is expected to reach another milestone in its progress toward implementing its future vision for the city’s downtown and waterfront areas.

Last March, city council was presented with the final, 120-page draft of the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan, a 20-year visioning exercise that takes into account the city’s economic development, socioeconomic and cultural interests.

Seven guiding principles in the document range from celebrating the city’s history and Indigenous culture to turning the area into a year-round destination to making the downtown and waterfront accessible areas.

Bev Hillier, the city’s manager of planning services, said since last May, when a Downtown Waterfront Advisory Committee was struck, a dozen recommendations have been presented to, and adopted by, city council.

They include things like a geotechnical study around the city’s wharf to kickstart the design process, the development of downtown signage, discussions with the local Rotary Club about a splash pad location, and striking a public art policy.

“We’re plugging away at getting those pieces done, and that committee is supposed to get back together in the fall to re-evaluate what’s happened over the summertime and provide some additional direction,” Hillier said.

Comprised of 13 community members hailing from various sectors, the committee was tasked with providing leadership on the revitalization activities. Part of their mandate includes providing bi-monthly reports to Invest North Bay, the city’s economic development arm, to measure the progress of the project.

Included in the development process is the ongoing effort to strike partnerships with stakeholders through the city, Hillier noted. From the outset, the city has emphasized that pulling off a plan of this magnitude will require help from various partners in the city.

“We well recognize that there is no way that the city can do this plan by itself and that's never been the intention as part of the development of the plan,” Hillier said.

“There are a lot of different community partners that can play a role — in the private sector, in the public sector — in seeing the downtown waterfront master plan come to fruition.”

Because it’s still early in the process, it’s too soon to suggest what opportunities may exist for private sector partners as part of the development, Hillier said. The city has yet to do any marketing or advertising associated with the redevelopment, but conversations are ongoing about what those long-term opportunities could be.

This fall, the committee should have some new updates around the amendment of the Official Plan and zoning bylaw, in addition to the geotechnical work at the wharf, which Hiller said will set the stage for future work.

It’s a painstaking process, but every little bit puts the city that much closer to achievement.

“It's a community-driven plan that we expect as part of implementation over the long term, and so it's not something that we expect to see achieved within a very, very short period of time, but certainly we're working towards seeing the plan come to fruition,” she said.