Public consultation on Sidney’s Beacon Avenue continues this month, culminating in a public open house on Jan. 23 at the Mary Winspear Centre.
Late last year, the Town of Sidney set in motion the public process to get feedback from the business community, residents and even visitors on their vision for Beacon Avenue. The issue of the route has been simmering for years, since it was in the mid-1990s, changed from a fully two-way street to a mixed two-way and one-way route. A three-block segment of Beacon was made one-way at the same time the downtown was revitalized under then-Mayor Don Amos.
Since then, some business owners have lobbied local government to change it back, citing economic and safety reasons. One of the main voices in that lobby has been Denis Paquette, owner of the Sidney Waterfront Inn. Last year, he formed the Sidney Traffic (now Tourism) Improvement Group, or STIG. Paquette says the group has updated its website this month (www.sidneytraffic.ca). It outlines the group’s reasons for wanting the street changed, studies done on one-way versus two-way streets and the economic benefits involved.
“Changing Beacon back to a two-way street has been our main goal,” he stated in the email to the News Review.
He added STIG hopes to have a presence at the Jan. 23 open house.
Randy Humble, Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Sidney says that meeting will be an information session and will present both sides of the Beacon debate. It’s open to business owners, residents and visitors, he said, adding Town staff and councillors are trying to be neutral parties and let the community decide the outcome.
That neutrality might be hard to come by for the council, as some of its members have been outspoken against any change.
Only through pressure from the business owners has the council relented and started the public consultation.
Since December, the Town has sent out letters to businesses and homes, asking for people’s input on the future of Beacon Avenue. There is also an online component, available at the Town’s website (www.sidney.ca). Humble said it is hoped those opinions will be added to the outcome of the Jan. 23 open house and made into a recommendation to council some time in February.
The open house, Humble said, will provide information about Beacon Avenue, traffic studies and how it fits into Sidney’s overall official community plan and other long-term documents.
“We will try to present a balanced approach,” he said.
After the meeting, Humble added the Town will continue to accept feedback in written form or online until the end of the first week of February. A staff report will be drafted and recommendations made to council.