Create a beating heart around a dynamic downtown public space is what Knowlton needs, argued councillor Louise Morin as she presented a plan to instill new life into Knowlton to a full house of TBL residents. The consultation meeting attended by more than 125 residents and chaired by Mayor Richard Burcombe was meant to explain how TBL intends to join the select group of “Coeurs Villageois” villages and thus, hopefully, attract more tourists and beautify its overall image.
Councillor Morin stressed that in order for the ambitious plan to work “it has to be good for the residents first, then it will be good for tourists.”
A 16-member steering committee representing all sectors of the community worked on the plan that covers a wide range of issues and focuses on an eight-part action plan that will become town policy once it is adopted by Council at its next public meeting.
Action Plan – When put in place, the plan would see:
- A revived downtown centered around Coldbrook Park and stretching from the beach to Knowlton Road, Mt-Echo and including also Brome Lake Ducks and the Marina. A new multi-purpose public building would be built, the public market would be moved to the area, Mill Pond and the dam redevelopment would be part of this new hub;
- Access to the lake with more activities year-round;
- Extension of the present network of walking paths;
- Beautify and landscape with seasonal décor;
- Stimulate commercial activity and attract new businesses;
- Promote local agriculture, increase presence at public market and extend its business hours; encourage restaurants to offer local products;
- Stress culture, heritage, nature, food to promote tourism;
- Create a standing committee for tourism.
Budget and priorities – Not surprisingly, one of the first questions asked was how much will this cost and what will come first? “First priority,” said councillor Morin “will be to get professional detailed projects. Fixing the dam and Coldbrook park is a priority. The creation of this public place can be done in phases.”
Overall, the project was well received, although some problems were noted by the residents such as burying or moving the electrical wires in the “Coeur Villageois”; doing something with the empty storefronts rather than building new stores; doing something about the noise caused by motorcycles and heavy traffic on main roads. Some suggestions were made such as creating more walking zones to discourage traffic; put artwork in public spaces, hold an art symposium; create more animation in the downtown core; make the commercial policy meet the needs of the population.
More consultation will take place before the plan is put in place. For councillor Morin, the measure of its success will depend on “whether we can achieve this at a reasonable cost, in a timely fashion and with citizens that are pleased with the outcome.” The full presentation is available at: www.ville.lac-brome.qc.ca