At their Sept. 11 meeting, the District of 100 Mile House councillors unanimously rejected the Rotary Club of 100 Mile House’s proposal to build a town square on Third Street between Birch Avenue and the alley.
Coun. Ralph Fossum left the council chambers due to conflict of interest, both as a Rotarian and a neighbouring property owner.
Noting council liked the town-square concept, the resolution stated it was not prepared to close a portion of Third Street, as it would negatively impact or cause undue hardship to nearby businesses.
Councillors were also concerned that creating a two-way street on the remaining portion of Third Street would compromise parking requirements for some adjacent businesses.
In its press release, council noted it wasn’t going to open itself up to possible legal and/or liability challenges associated with negatively impacted businesses.
Furthermore the district fathers said they weren’t prepared to invest municipal funds or raise business tax rates to support the development of sidewalks, public washrooms or upgrades to existing public areas around the community hall.
Prior to voting unanimously to turn down the proposal, councillors encouraged the Rotary Club to identify an alternate location or proposal for a town square.
After the meeting, Mayor Mitch Campsall said council hasn’t closed the door on the Rotary Club.
“In fact, it’s the other way around; the door is wide open and we want to work with them.”
He added that according to the landlords and the business owners, closing Third Street just isn’t going to work.
An alternate location, Campsall said, could be the vacant lot on the corner of Birch and Fifth Street.
Rotary president Maureen Pinkney said the club is extremely disappointed with council’s quick decision.
The concerns voiced at the Sept. 6 public meeting, regarding parking, freight, washrooms, etc., were thought to have been addressed, she added.
“I personally went to every business in that immediate area and 100 per cent of them were in favour of the idea and only a few concerns were raised.”
The concept Rotary has to build a beautiful square in the “heart of our town” would not be the same if it was made smaller or placed somewhere else on the outskirts of the downtown core, Pinkney explained.
“Our club has decided that ‘although the Rotary Club of 100 Mile House fully believes in the town square proposal and its proposed location, the club will not be proceeding with it at this time’.”