CAO Lyle Thomas said sidewalks will have to be replaced soon, and a wooden option could reflect the area’s heritage.

Revitalization projects proposed for Princeton’s downtown

There are big plans in the works to change the face of downtown Princeton.

Town council recently reviewed a proposal, put forward by the economic development department, that would see an overhaul of the Bridge Street visitor’s centre, and possibly the installment of wooden sidewalks.

“It’s just a proposal at the moment. It hasn’t been approved,” said CAO Lyle Thomas. “It’s just for discussion…It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s a multi year plan.”

However members of council seem enthusiastic about the conceptual drawings prepared by an architectural firm.

“I think it’s pretty amazing,” said Mayor Spencer Coyne. “We want to make Princeton a destination, not a drive thru.”

There are no firm costs associated with the ideas, however Coyne said he believes the town may be able to tap funds from the sale of industrial lands to fund at least part of the project.

Councillor Randy McLean was equally impressed with the images put forward.

“I am quite excited about the proposals for downtown revitalization. As far as I am concerned we can never stop trying to improve the services and the image we portray as a community,” he said.

“With respect to particular facades, I was just as excited about the facade and landscaping proposed for the info centre as I was previously with the wooden arches. In my mind the entire town centre surrounding Veterans’ Square will be spectacular. While other sections of the proposals may have to be done as we can afford them, the facade and landscaping of the info centre I feel are within our present budget.”

Related: Council approves $315,000 makeover for Princeton

The proposal is laid out in phases, with phase one including the installation of the wooden gateways on Bridge and Vermilion Streets earlier this fall and the placement of 13 bronze wildlife statues that will take place in the spring.

Those improvements cost approximately $315,000.

Phase two, which is tentatively planned to take place in 2020, involves and overhaul of the visitors centre to tie in with the wooden archway design.

“At the end of the day this is about trying to co-ordinate our branding,” said Thomas.

More than 18,000 people stop at the visitor’s centre each year and feedback from those travellers suggest they come to Princeton to enjoy “the wilderness, the outdoors and looking at our history…Logging, mining, ranching – they are all focused on the outdoors and the outdoor experience.”

Thomas said the last revitalization was completed in the 1980’s, when an “Edwardian” look was adopted by local businesses.

“It definitely served its purpose but

I think the town knows it’s time for a refresh.”

Phase three of the project would see a replacement of downtown sidewalks, possibly with treated soft lumber.

“It’s an interesting concept because in our area we are all about softwood,” said Thomas.

He said town hall welcomes feed back on the proposals.

“Council is always open to public input.”

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Treated softwood sidewalks are suggested for 2021.

A view of the proposed changes to the visitors centre - from the sky.

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