Opinion: Mill Street just the beginning

Chilliwack taxpayers have invested in the downtown’s future. Now it is up to us to ensure that investment pays off.

Claudia Earl (left) owner of Find A Treasure

The official opening of the renovated Mill Street this weekend is as welcome as spring blossoms.

But it will take more than patios and new pavement to keep the downtown strong. It will take a continued commitment by the community to support the businesses located there.

The city spent more than a half-million dollars to improve Mill Street. Changes include a wider sidewalk, ornamental trees and improved lighting.

It maintained parking, but at the expense of two-way traffic on the street. (That shouldn’t be a problem; Wellington has been one-way for years.)

The combination of Mill Street and Wellington, connected with Central Community Park, provides a great focal point for the downtown.

But without business, those stores and the people they employ won’t be around for long. That’s where we come in.

Renovations to Mill Street have been talked about for years. They’re part of the on-going conversation about ways to reinvigorate the entire downtown.

So far, much of that dialogue has centred on what’s coming down, not what’s going up.

City councillor Ken Popove is hoping the new Mill Street will change that conversation.

“People have the perception of us knocking down buildings and making parking lots,” he told The Progress as work first began back in February,  “but this is what we’re working toward in terms of redevelopment.”

That may be true, but some rather large potholes still remain in the city’s road to redevelopment.  The new pocket park at the corner of Young and Yale looks nice, but it can’t hide the fact that it, and the neighbouring Empress Hotel site, are no longer part of the city’s tax revenue stream. Nor are they contributing to the overall economic vitality of the city.

Patience may be a virtue, but it can also be costly.

Nonetheless, the renovation of Mill Street is a good start, and a victory that should be celebrated.

Chilliwack taxpayers have invested in the downtown’s future. Now it is up to us to ensure that investment pays off by supporting the merchants.

Just Posted

Armed ERT officers respond to firearm report near Chilliwack middle school Friday

School put in hold-and-secure in the afternoon as incident was resolved

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Sept. 23 to 29

Girl Guides go back to basics with door-to-door cookie sales in Chilliwack, Agassiz

Chilliwack District Girl Guides’ cookie fundraiser will take place Sunday, Sept. 29

Abbotsford police chief speaking to Liberal candidate after second ad appears featuring photo of officer

Jati Sidhu had said an ad with the same photo posted last Friday was ‘not appropriate’

Chilliwack’s oldest school, Central elementary, celebrates 90 years

Historic photos, scrap books, the school song all part of upcoming 90th celebration

VIDEO: Seabird Island welcomes Indigenous canoe, kayak championships

The event saw athletes chosen to be on the B.C. development team for the 2020 North American games

‘This is savage’: Strip club owner suspects arson in Williams Lake fire

Investigators on scene to determine cause of fire that destroyed at least two businesses

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Judge rules cops did not coerce statement from B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker

Defence wanted Vernon’s Curtis Sagmoen’s video interview with police deemed inadmissible

GRAPHIC: Tortured cat found with string around its neck in Kelowna alleyway

City crews have been contacted and are on the way to pick up the dead feline.

Firefighters may be needed for paramedic apartment access, experts say

Better coordination recommended in urban B.C. 9-1-1 calls

Stolen iPhone leads Abbotsford Police to 260 marijuana plants

Search warrant at west Abbotsford home leads to seizure of plants

Three B.C. moms to launch CBD-infused water

Three friends say benefits may include anxiety relief, pain management

B.C. students empowered to ‘shift the vote’ this election

B.C. Federation of Students launches ‘Our Time is Now’ campaign

Most Read