“We’re anxious to hear whatever the public has to say. We feel it’s extremely important to engage the community so that everyone who has a thought on what they’d like to see happen on the waterfront can be heard,” he said. The first draft of the development plan should be completed by the spring, at which time it will be made public for further feedback. Croken said he’s hopeful the plan itself can help to rebuild Summerside’s downtown area, which has had ups and downs in terms of development over the last two decades.
“We’re hoping that with the community looking at this and with community brains at work, what we come out with is something that will try and change that pattern we’ve seen in the downtown,” he said. This meeting came about because of a report the port prepared more than a year ago regarding its best chances for future development. Its major finding was that expanding industrial applications of the harbour itself were limited, as the waterway is too shallow to allow for more ship-based business. That revelation narrowed the corporation’s water-based options significantly – so it has turned to the waterfront itself to be an economic builder.
“We own a number of properties on the waterfront and there are a number of other properties that are positioned well for development,” said Croken. The port corporation currently owns the port itself, Spinakers’ Landing, the former Burger King location and the Harbour Quay mini-mall. These properties will probably feature prominently in any plans made by the corporation, said Croken. But the port authority is not limiting itself to these areas in terms of ideas. Whatever plan the port comes up with is sure to impact the surrounding businesses; so it’s no exaggeration to say various community groups are following its plans closely. It will be interesting to see what vision the corporation has for the area, said Pam Montgomery, executive director of Downtown Summerside Inc.
“Downtown Summerside Inc. would like to see development. We’re excited that the port authority is taking the initiative to include other organizations and stakeholders in the planning process and we’re very pleased to be part of that,” said Montgomery. That’s a sentiment that was mirrored by Jane Sharpe, executive director of the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce. “We think it’s great that they’re doing a public consultation as part of the process.
The port has met with our chamber executive in the past to try and keep us abreast of where they’re going with things. So I think public consultation is a great step in the process,” said Sharpe. As for what the chamber would like to see included in the port’s 25-year plan, Sharpe said they are taking a wait and see approach. Reserving comment until after December’s meeting.