Brandon's downtown councillor has big plans for a handful of streets in his ward.
At last night's council meeting, Coun. Corey Roberts (Rosser) proposed to council that once the "hiccup" of the current closure of the 100-block of 10th Street is taken care of, 10th Street and Ninth Street from Princess Avenue to Pacific Avenue be switched to a one-way format for vehicle traffic, complete with angle parking.
"If this goes forward, we'd like to take 10th Street ... into a single lane of traffic heading north from Princess to Pacific, offering angle parking on each side of the street and making it a lot easier for those folks that can't handle the dreaded parallel park," he explained. "It will end at Pacific, come around the corner and head south on Ninth between Pacific and Princess, and further on it goes back into its regular two-way traffic.
"When looking at this, we thought it was a logical step in order for people to essentially make an entire loop of the district -- if they were looking for a parking stall -- they get into that loop and it's nice, easy right-hand turn around all of the corners."
Roberts has also proposed that Rosser Avenue between Ninth Street and 10th Street and Ninth Street between Princess Park and the new Kristopher Campbell Memorial Skateboard Plaza be closed to traffic on an "event-drive basis."
"It would be a seasonal-driven closure, from perhaps May Long weekend until the middle of September when (Brandon University Students' Union's) Rock The Block would be a logical end for the season," he said.
The initiatives can be done for a relatively small amount of city cash, Roberts suggested, with the costs of lighting fixtures, signage and the painting of street lines as the only real expected expense.
In speaking with the downtown merchants that would be affected by the street changes and closures, "99.9 per cent" have said they support the initiatives, Roberts said.
It appears that Roberts idea's have also received preliminary support from a number of councillors, with some suggesting they are ideas that are worth trying.
"It's no secret to a lot of people that I've been really pushing for this idea as well," said Coun. Len Isleifson (Riverview). "It's not just the closing of a street to make things happen, it's the changing of a venue to make an event happen and to bring life to something.
"I think it's an excellent opportunity for our city to move forward and try something. No pain, no gain."
"I like this idea," added Coun. Jeff Fawcett (Assiniboine). "It won't cost very much. I'm a fan of that. It's something that we're trying. I'm a fan of trying some things downtown."
While Roberts said that his proposed street changes will complement many of the downtown initiatives being planned by Renaissance Brandon -- the arms-length downtown revitalization board on which Roberts, Isleifson and Mayor Shari Decter Hirst sit -- Decter Hirst stressed the ideas were ones brought forward by Roberts alone as a ward initiative.
It's expected a bylaw will be crafted in the coming weeks to address Roberts' requests, at which time council debate on the issue will take place.
However, it's Roberts' hope that an "event-driven" street closure can happen as early as this fall.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 19, 2011 A4