By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Work is underway on a project that will determine how Morinville’s downtown will look and feel in the future. The Coeur de Morinville Area Structure Plan (ASP) project is presently underway and the Town of Morinville is holding an open house Thursday night to give residents and interested parties a first look at the first steps of that plan.
“It is an area structure plan so we want to adopt -through the bylaw process- a plan for the downtown area that will include details for Main Street,” said Tim Vrooman, a planner with the Town of Morinville, noting the plan will ultimately look at preservation of existing historic dwellings, adaptive use of buildings, filling in some of the vacant sites on 100 Avenue and 100 Street, and infill and redevelopment opportunities that would bring in some people to live in the area. “We want to bring in people into the downtown area so that it functions as a vibrant area and attracts the retail that we want to provide.”
Vrooman said the functional planning study of Highway 642, a separate project from the Coeur de Morinville Area Structure Plan, will tie into the ASP with respect to how traffic and pedestrian interfaces will work at the existing wide right of ways. “We’re going to try and make it more attractive, but make it function better and still functions for the needs of the province,” he said, noting that work seeks to find balance between 100 Avenue being both a main street and a provincial highway.
Residential part of plan
The heart of Morinville in the ASP is not restricted to 100 Avenue and 100 Street. It encompasses the blocks behind Morinville’s two main streets. The ASP seeks to deal also with those neighbourhoods located directly behind the two streets and how they should develop and evolve over time.
“We kind of based our boundary on the historic subdivisions that were done in the early 1900s,” Vrooman said. “We noticed in looking at when subdivisions were originally registered, quite a lot of work was done up until 1915, and then took a break until the Second World War and beyond.”
Vrooman said people attending Thursday’s open house will get a sense of the vision for the project and how public space will mix with residential and commercial space. One of the ASP directives is the plan to put developments up to the sidewalk to make a nice downtown area with walk-in shops and offices as many currently are.
To keep everything in relative visual harmony, Vrooman explained the ASP would have some architectural design standards, but not at the high level required for the block surrounding St. Jean Baptiste Church and the Notre Dame Apartments area. “Something that new construction would be respectful of the way existing heritage is,” Vrooman said.
The Town is hoping people will come out and see where the project is at and where it is heading. The open house takes place June 14 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. The evening begins with a formal presentation on the ASP at 7:30 p.m., followed by an open discussion. Details on the project can be viewed at www.morinville.ca/coeur.