Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lack of momentum on McKay Street plans making for growing Facebook conversations

Some residents are taking to Facebook  to express disappointment that there has
been no progress seen when it comes to clearing the brush
and launching the ambitious McKay Street Park development

The announcement in June of the success for McKay Street in the recent BCAA Play Here competition provided for a boost in optimism and much commentary on social media, with many in the community celebrating the  prospect of the much discussed remediation of the long abandoned baseball field was finally set to move ahead.

That public quest for the BCAA funding of 100,000 dollars was led by Mayor Lee Brain, who provided for frequent updates on his social media portal on Facebook, with the Mayor pushing the community (and many beyond) to get in the vote to claim the top spot in the annual competition to help fund outdoor spaces in British Columbia.

Such was the enthusiasm in the community for the competition that it quickly became part of the daily routine for many North Coast residents, as well as for those that have left the region, but who still have a strong attachment to Prince Rupert.

However, with May morphing into August and little to show in the growing urban forest that now makes for the lot at McKay and Kootenay, some residents of the area are wondering just what the status of the project might be.

The topic has taken on some life on the Facebook page Prince Rupert Customer Review and some of the comments offer up a few themes that the City of Prince Rupert might want to take note of, with a number of those participating in the discussion expressing their concerns over the delays, making note as to how the city has spent money on other initiatives, as well as to take note of safety issues related to the current state of the actual lot on McKay.

Veronika Stewart, who in addition to her duties as the City of Prince Rupert's Communication Manager also serves as Vice-President of Transition Prince Rupert, an organization which featured Mr. Brain as a founding member, prior to his election as Mayor of Prince Rupert.

As the plan for development of the open space on the west side of the city began to evolve in 2015, responsibility for any redevelopment for the park appears to have been handed over to Transition Prince Rupert.

In an August 8th reply to the original questions to the Facebook thread, Ms. Stewart in her Transition Prince Rupert role provided some notes on the lack of information on the project to this point.

As she notes, when it comes to updates from the community organization on their plans and the recent funding from BCAA, the flow of information has been somewhat light to this point.

So far the last posting to the Transition Prince Rupert Facebook page related to the McKay Street initiative was posted on June 23rd following the announcement of the 100,000 dollars in funding for the project.

Even less information about the progress of the McKay Street plans has been provided to the Transition Prince Rupert website.

Among some of the last notes that were heard about the project in late May, was the plan to continue on with fundraising in the community  and seek in kind support from local contractors to help bring the blue prints to reality.

One part of that call for assistance has been through a Go Fund Me page,  which currently notes that 1,000 dollars in donations have been delivered to this point.

However, the nature of some of the commentary from the Facebook inquiries would seem to suggest that Transition Prince Rupert might want to be a bit more active on their social media portals and offer up some further background and clarifications when it comes to some of the questions being asked.

As well, considering the perception by some in the community that the City is steering the project and how the City continue to be part of any conversations that come up whenever the McKay Street project is mentioned; City Council might want to provide some background for the public as to how much interest or control they have over the proposed development and how much involvement, if any, that they plan to be part of as the project moves forward.

Some background on the park plans can be found below:

April 2017 -- Final Design for McKay Street Park to be revealed at Community meeting April 25

December 2016 -- McKay Street Park plans to move forward in January
October 2016 -- Transition Prince Rupert hosting Annual General Meeting tonight
September 2016 -- Public comment period now open for McKay Street Park concept proposals
September 2016 -- McKay Street Park concepts to be revealed at mid month Info session
June 2016 -- City Council session takes note that McKay street park bid came up short in BCAA competition
May 2016 -- KraftHeinz's Project Play offers opportunity for community upgrades
May 2016 -- McKay Street Park initiative submitted to BCAA's Play at Home competition
January 13 -- Mayor hails success of Placemaking conference and points to a new 2030 Sustainable City vision

December 2015 -- Transition Prince Rupert to host grass roots involvement conference in January
December 2015 -- Transition Prince Rupert hosting General Membership meeting tonight
November 2015 -- Hays 2.0 gets splashy launch on City website

April 2015 -- Transition Prince Rupert opens the discussion on the McKay Street Open Space

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