This is the time to dream and plan for the future

Downtown Plan launch marks the start of community engagement on this project

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This is the time to dream and plan for the future
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Mary Jo Milhomens

Mary Jo Milhomens

Senior Communications Advisor for the Town of Oakville, and has worked for the town since 2000. She graduated from Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology with High Honours, Creative Advertising & Marketing.

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The Town of Oakville launched the Downtown Plan last night to almost 400 people at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts.

“We are glad residents and business owners came to the launch and are taking a prominent role in this Downtown Plan. Last night’s attendance and feedback certainly showed us that our community is engaged and enthusiastic about re-imagining our downtown core,” Mayor Rob Burton said.

There was a vibe at the launch that many were saying had to do with the exciting opportunities that lay ahead for this town.

“We have big decisions ahead of us; decisions that will shape our future towards becoming Canada’s most livable town,” added Mayor Burton. “These are decisions we will take seriously and carefully; they are decisions we will make together.”

The audience, made up of a downtown merchants, members of the public, real estate agents, and arts and culture members to name a few, had an opportunity to hear directly from the two consultants leading the studies, Joe Berridge, Partner at Urban Strategies Inc., and Anne McIlroy, Principal at BrookMcIlroy, as well as a local arts contributor Don Pangman, business leader John Bowker, and the town’s Commissioner of Community Development, Jane Clohecy.

The expert guest panelists shared their experiences of working on similar projects across the country and the world.

“Culture, art, events, music — that’s what adds the magic to the place,” stated Joe Berridge, lead consultant on the Downtown Cultural Hub Study. “Creating a pleasant walking environment is key to a successful main street — it’s as much fun outside as inside.”

The Downtown Cultural Hub Study will explore opportunities to create a downtown cultural and performing arts space including: a performing arts centre, art gallery, library, outdoor program space, and digital space that will become the cultural, social, and economic heart of our community.

Anne McIlroy, lead consultant on the Downtown Transportation and Streetscape Study, discussed how building streets are all about building communities. “Great streets build communities by bringing the street and the buildings that line them together to form a vital place.”

The Downtown Transportation and Streetscape Study will improve downtown streets, pedestrian and cycle ways, and the Towne Square by introducing a cohesive look and feel, while increasing connectivity, mobility and accessibility.

Inspiration and vision were two words you heard often last night as the Mayor and guest panelists talked about how this was the time for residents and business owners to think about how best to transform the downtown core into something extraordinary.

Residents and business owners who were not able to attend the launch will have several opportunities over the next six months to contribute to the Downtown Plan through surveys, joining discussions forums on the town’s website, and attending the next community open house and workshop scheduled for January 30, 2014.

Information on the plan and public engagement opportunities is available at oakville.ca To be added to the mailing list, email downtownplan@oakville.ca

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