Smiths Falls discusses downtown revitalization, Beckwith St. redevelopment

February 13, 2018 by

SFDowntownThe Beckwith Street Revitalization project, which is intended to give the tired street a facelift, while also addressing aging infrastructure beneath the surface, has galvanized the town.  In particular the angle of parking is hijacking the conversation.

On Monday Feb 12th, the Smith Falls council chamber saw a large audience show up for a delegation from the Smiths Falls Business Owner’s association to address the issue.

“It’s always important to respect the past but at the same time to have one foot facing towards the future,” said Nick Ritchie, co-founder of 4 Degrees Brewing Co. while referring to the argument and petition, that angle parking is part of the street’s heritage.

“Critical to evolving our downtown is creating a pedestrian friendly downtown,” said Amy Rensby, owner of C’est Tout Bakery.  “We all want to see a change but we’re getting lost on how cars are going to park.”

The group’s argument is that there could be more than one way to achieve the goal of creating an exceptional experience in the downtown that isn’t tied to just parking.

“Could certain blocks be angle versus other blocks?  Are there certain stores where it’s easier to zip in and zip out of like Shoppers DrugMart, like that whole block up towards Tim Horton’s? Could more towards the bridge be parallel parking? Could it be some type of hybrid?” proposed Ritchie.

Preserving the angle parking on Beckwith will likely preclude adding a bike lane in a town that is, in other areas, developing active transportation facilities.

“We need to stop thinking about active transportation as a hobby and recognize it as a lifestyle,” said Chris McGuire, resident and Heritage Smiths Falls member.

The town’s consultant on the project, Parsons will be making another presentation to council at the next scheduled Committee of the Whole on Tuesday Feb 20, and a council decision is expected before the end of the month so the town can get tenders out in a timely fashion.