Port McNeill business owners making space for outdoor socializing

“We need more community.”

Port McNeill locals have some big plans to revitalize and beautify the downtown core. A grant from Island Coastal Economic Trust brought in Roger Brooks, a professional development consultant which held open house brainstorming sessions and issued recommendations to develop downtown.

Local business owner Pita Rosback and lifetime Port McNeillian was inspired at the consultation meeting to turn the parking lot at one of her stores, the old RONA on the hill, into a gathering space.

“We need more community. I love living here, but I think we need more places for community to gather,” she said.

The parking lot got upgrades like sewage and hydro connections over the summer, and by next year Rosbuck plans to open the space with picnic tables, a food truck, and ice cream bar. She envisions community information on each fence panel, like a walking tourist info centre.

“There are amazing bike trails here, but a lot of people don’t know about them.”

She’s not the only one who got the public space bug. Lisa Fernie with General Properties Ltd. has refurbished vacant space near the Fields store into a gathering space. For now it’s got benches and butterflies painted by local artist Danielle Tyre.

It’s just a start, Fernie said. She’s excited and little uncomfortable to see how people will use the space – if they’ll actually use it.

And she’s got lots of ideas for how to develop it — perhaps an ice cream truck, or a stage for live music – if they’ll use it.

What has started is business owners taking action to improvement their neighbourhoods.

“We’ve got great views,” Fernie said.

And now people will have spaces to enjoy them from.

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca

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