On 2nd and 3rd Avenue West, Prince Rupert’s historic downtown core continues to be a local hub for retail shops, services, and vital office space. But numerous empty storefronts, run-down buildings, and a lack of parking have contributed to a negative perception of the downtown. Redesign Rupert is working with downtown stakeholders to address some of the biggest challenges in the downtown core and complement existing efforts to create resiliency and vibrancy.
Through Redesign Rupert’s community engagement in 2016-2017, we learned that there are some major challenges with downtown. These identified issues are preventing residents not only from spending time there, but also from starting new businesses, supporting existing businesses, and contributing to revitalization efforts.
Key challenges in downtown:
40% Vacancy rate (empty storefronts dominate 3rd Avenue’s street views)
Deteriorated buildings (many buildings, whether occupied or vacant, are deteriorated and in need of cleaning and repair)
Lack of parking (those looking to visit shops and services downtown have difficulty finding parking within close proximity of their destination)
Challenges for small business owners (access to human capital, competing wages in port industries, high business taxes, and more, make Prince Rupert’s downtown a challenging environment for entrepreneurs)
Lack of identity (2nd and 3rd Avenue are missing the charm and identity of Cow Bay, making business owners on 3rd Avenue eager to shift their location to the Cow Bay area, where there is currently no vacancy)
Public parks and gathering spaces (a lack of public space, seating, and weather shelter make it prohibitive for people to spend time downtown)
Sense of safety (pedestrian safety on sidewalks and crosswalks, inadequate street lighting, and other factors contribute to some residents describing s lack of safety in the downtown core)
Prince Rupert’s downtown has the potential to once again be a vibrant centre for local economy, arts & culture, public gathering & celebration, and professional offices.
In 2016, the City of Prince Rupert worked with The Planning Partnership to develop a series of plans & ideas for revitalizing downtown. In 2018-19, we are developing actionable strategies to implement these ideas through a number of different strategies.
Current downtown planning efforts & initiatives
Updating the City of Prince Rupert’s Official Community Plan and Downtown & Cow Bay Permit Area Design Guidelines
Engaging with renowned city planning experts to determine best course of action for downtown revitalization
Researching case studies of revitalization successes and failures in other small, resource-driven towns
Consulting with the Prince Rupert business community through the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Prince Rupert’s Small Business Advisory Committee
Collecting data on 2nd & 3rd Avenue vacancy rates and ownership details, in partnership with the City of Prince Rupert’s Planning Department
Developing list of potential revitalization incentive bylaws and facade improvement programs to incorporate into Downtown Revitalization Plan
Hiring MA student from York University, specialized in cultural planning and human geography, for an 8-month internship to research downtown planning and develop a series of downtown pop-up events (internship facilitated through the Ecotrust Canada’s North Coast Innovation Lab)
Meeting with major industrial stakeholders, government representatives, and funding organizations to form partnerships and secure funding
Partnering with Transition Prince Rupert on 2019 “City of Rainbows” Public Art Series to bring vibrancy to downtown
Incorporating community engagement feedback & ideas into planning initiatives and strategies (consulting again with Prince Rupert residents at major planning milestones)