Farmers market, hockey, games, movie night among downtown initiatives for 2020

Improving the downtown was front and centre on the agenda of a North Battleford city council Monday night.

At that meeting, council heard from Junior City Planner Brett Kitchen who presented a report outlining six initiatives to improve or promote the downtown in 2020.

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The report was prepared through consultation with the CPTED committee as well as with the downtown Business Improvement District. The focus was on ways to improve the downtown and encourage more people to visit.

Many of the proposals are simply ideas at this point in time. Here is a summary of what initiatives were proposed:

Moving the Farmers Market to 101st Street for summer:

The report proposes to “maximize the use of the farmers market” by moving it to 101st Street. The idea is that by moving the location to downtown it will increase traffic and people to the downtown core. The report also states that because the amount of people will increase, “illegitimate users may be more inclined to move elsewhere because they may feel overcrowded with all the people and booths in the streets and sidewalks.”

Street hockey:

The thinking is that a street hockey event on 101st or 100th Street would also bring people into the downtown. The idea is to partner with the Battlefords North Stars and midget AAA teams, and other local community organizations. The BID has tentatively booked a date in July for the event. 

Outdoor movie:

The idea is to partner with Magic Lantern Theatres about hosting an outdoor movie in the downtown. The reports identifies July 11 as an ideal date. Possible locations could include the south side of the Annex theatre, or one of the vacant lots on 101st Street near Scotiabank.

Giant board games:

The idea here would be to utilize the space in Central Park to install large board games on the cement pad to encourage people to play games there.

Amazing Race:

The idea here is to stage a made-in-North Battleford Amazing Race competition in the city involving eight to 10 teams, with teams completing different challenges. This would allow local businesses and charities to benefit as well.

Improved lighting:  

The report also identifies one of the items cited in Tarah Hodgkinson’s perceptions of safety study: a lack of storefront lighting in the downtown. The thinking is to provide some sort of subsidy or incentive to downtown businesses to increase lighting and promote a sense of safety.

How this would work remains to be seen. Right now, exterior lighting is included in the BID’s façade grants, said Jennifer Niesink, the city’s director of planning and development. What they would need to do is take a look and see if more is required.

City Planner Ryan Mackrell said this was something they wanted to research further. He said they were looking into what other communities were doing and cited a program in the city of Saskatoon where people were encouraged to leave their porchlights on at night to reduce crime. 

The general reaction of council to the ideas was enthusiasm. Councillor Greg Lightfoot particularly liked the idea of a hockey tournament downtown as well as moving the farmer’s market.

“If we can move it downtown it will create traffic for the downtown, I think it will be a huge success,” said Lightfoot.

City Manager Randy Patrick was careful to point out that at this point these ideas were not finished and some will come back to council for further information. Council voted to receive the report outlining the proposed downtown improvement initiatives.

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