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Downtown Chilliwack planning at the research stage for Walas

Have an idea for Chilliwack
Have an idea for Chilliwack's downtown? Set up an appointment to discuss it with Walas officials, who've been contracted to help reactivate the area.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

Some residents may be curious about what's happening since Walas Concepts was contracted a few months ago to help kickstart redevelopment in the downtown core.

They are in the research phase now, actively meeting with people, and asking anyone with an idea of how to liven up Chilliwack's downtown to contact them directly.

Barb Kemp, longtime retailer and former Downtown Chilliwack BIA president, has just been hired to join the Walas team.

They will be operating out of a downtown office within a couple of weeks.

Central to their philosophy is the idea that "cities are about people," explained Gerben van Straaten, Walas CEO, in a news release Monday.

They plan to "activate street life and initiate conversations" about new and potentially better uses of the downtown core, like re-purposing under-used buildings in Chilliwack.

Once they set up the office, the team will be working closely with downtown residents, property owners, business people and new entrepreneurs.

"At this moment, the project is in the research stage, with Walas Concepts getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of the community, and working together with local residents to initiate that change," said van Straaten.

It's Kemp's boundless enthusiasm and extensive knowledge of downtown that will make her "a welcome addition," to the Walas team, he said.

"City development should be user-driven," added van Straaten, and everything they do at Walas seems to resonate with that idea. They will be listening, match-making and helping guide the process along wherever possible.

Walas Concepts Inc., a Dutch-based company with offices in Vancouver, was engaged by City of Chilliwack and CEPCO in March to help speed up downtown redevelopment. They are set apart by innovative techniques and a "bottom-up" approach to problem-solving. Mentorship and partnerships are also key.

Walas expertise is in creative community development, business administration and management coaching.

"By building bridges and connections between people, such as innovators, the business community, citizens and various stakeholders, Walas Concepts aims to foster an interconnected community that is both economically sustainable and socially diverse."

Have an idea for the downtown? Set up an appointment to discuss it with Walas officials by contacting Barb Kemp at bkemp@teamwalas.com or 604-793-5977 or Anna Brayco, junior project manager at abrayko@teamwalas.com or 604-613-8244. See more at www.walasconcepts.com

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

 

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