The Cloverdale BIA has lost their city funding for the redevelopment of Hawthorne Square.
The BIA held their AGM Feb. 15 to discuss Hawthorne Square and other issues, but the funding cut came out of nowhere, according to Paul Orazietti.
Orazietti, the BIA’s executive director, said although it’s frustrating, the BIA will move ahead with the project anyway and try to raise funds elsewhere.
“We couldn’t get additional funding from the federal government last year,” explained Orazietti. “So this year, we put $150,000 towards it. We want to make it our primary project.”
Orazietti said the city informed him last week the money they had for Hawthorne Square has been pulled off the table.
“It’s a bit discouraging to have been promised something and then get it taken away from you.”
Despite the loss, estimated to be about $40,000, Orazietti said the redevelopment of Hawthorne Square will move forward.
“Cloverdale needs to plug into the future,” he explained. “We’ll find money for it, but we can’t wait for the city anymore.”
That redevelopment of the square will include some place making items with historical connections to Cloverdale’s past, but also new things like benches and access to electricity so that more films can use Hawthorne Square as a setting.
“It’ll be good for the town and it will offer more options for its use, which will appeal to more people.”
Orazietti said the town centre is old, the infrastructure is ageing, and there are specific things that need to be addressed by the city.
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“We were planning on doing some transitional things in this town, such as adding some lighting in Robinson Square, but we’ve now found out that all the trellis work there is rotten. So the question becomes, do we replace that and go in and add lighting, or do we just add lighting for now, or do we take a fresh look at Robinson Square? What needs to be done in order to make that space the best possible space for people to use?”
So much needs to be done, added Orazietti. Right now, they’re just working on the basics. He’s hounded City Hall to fix sidewalks, fill potholes, repair roads, and fix sewer problems to prevent some of the major flooding Cloverdale has seen recently.
“A lot of what we need isn’t really sexy and fun; it’s practical,” he noted. “Dealing with the flooding problem is massive. Glenn at No Frills pumped a million gallons of water in December. A million!”
He said another key takeaway from the AGM is that business are all telling him everyone just wants to get back to normal. He said the delay is hurting business and preventing owners from continuing to grow their businesses.
“People want to stop living with uncertainty,” he said. “It’s hard to generalise concerns, because everyone’s different, but many have been concerned as they’ve seen other businesses go under.”
He said to top that off, yet more concerns were raised about the recent increases in rents in all over Cloverdale.
“All of the sudden, our sleepy little town—which had the lowest rental rates and lease rates in the entire Metro—suddenly is catching up and becoming like everywhere else. It’s quite unbelievable how the rates have been escalating so quickly.”
Apart from discussions on ageing infrastructure and “return to normal” concerns, Orazietti said the AGM also covered transportation issues. He said they’ll be putting up some more EV chargers in the future to encourage more people to stop in Cloverdale when they need to charge their cars and he’s also trying to get Translink to provide better bus service.
“We also discussed density,” he added. “For us to be healthier, we have to have more people living here. So in doing all of that, we have five, five-storey buildings on the books. We have another potential project on three acres that could potentially get redeveloped near the town centre.”
He said once those buildings are up, it’s going to enliven the town. He said it will also create better livability for residents in the downtown area as more people will attract more businesses and services.
Orazietti also said the Fairgrounds needs to have a clearer vision of what it is and what residents want it to be. He said that vision needs to be incorporated into a roadmap and steps need to be implemented to get there.
“In its past, it was a gathering area,” he said. “So, for example, instead of just putting in a rink, we need an arena there with seating so we can double its use for concerts and other events.”
He said the key to the future for Cloverdale is that people need to start thinking outside the boundaries of old thought, that new ideas need to be tabled and those new ideas need to be allowed to take root.
“Cloverdale has a history and sometimes it’s hard to let go,” he said. “We were the original downtown. We were the original city centre and that’s all gone. And sometimes it’s hard to jump on and say, ‘Yeah, we’re now a part of this bigger, greater Surrey,’ but we have to.
“We have a resilience here. It’s a small town in a big city and people are proud of that.”