From more greenery to gaining official heritage status, the Cloverdale BIA is spearheading several new initiatives.
“We’re looking at a bunch of things right now,” said Paul Orazietti, the executive director of the Cloverdale BIA. “It’s just a matter of choosing what to prioritize and what we think will be successful if we pursue it.”
One immediate proposal is to augment the aesthetic appeal of the downtown area. Orazietti said they are looking to partner with the city in an effort to revamp the downtown core with new landscaping features.
“Some of our money is earmarked for that, to add greenery to the area,” Orazietti said. “We’re looking at greening Cloverdale and the town centre more. Plants, shrubs, landscaping, they’re really well received by people.”
After that, the BIA plans to look at ways to entice more businesses to the area.
“We need to fill in the gaps,” explained Orazietti. “We need more businesses. We have an assortment of services, but we need to have the full range of what people are looking for. That’s what attracts even more people, a wide array of shops, services, restaurants, etc.”
He said they’re currently pursuing two initiatives to help bring in more businesses. One is to work with the city to get the downtown area designated as an official heritage district. Orazietti feels that creating a “heritage precinct” will help attract shoppers, tourists, and businesses.
“Some of the new buildings should have an historic look to them,” he explained. “They should be built to fit in with what’s already here.”
Part two of that plan is to also work with the city to get zoning changes done to downtown to fall in line with changes made on some streets in the area years ago.
“The whole area needs to be rezoned,” he said. “New buildings need to be mixed use, which would allow for office or retail (on the ground level) with residential above.”
He said the zoning designation is already in place on 176A Street up to 58th Avenue. But he said the whole core should be zoned that way.
“As the population grows and Cloverdale densifies, this will be very important for sustainable growth. It also helps bring in more commercial space, which is sorely lacking right now, which will obviously attract more businesses.”
Orazietti said there is a lot of room for more businesses. He said the commercial vacancy rate in Cloverdale is less than one per cent.
“We almost have no vacancies,” he noted. “Everyone who’s got a space is holding onto it. So there is no turnover right now. It’s very unusual.”
He said Cloverdale and Surrey are in the middle of a massive shift and the identity of the city and its five town centres is slowly changing forever. But he thinks its a good thing.
“We, as a city, are transitioning from these little town centres in a giant suburb to more of a traditional city,” said Orazietti. “We’re not there yet, but the transformation will benefit all residents in the long run because more businesses create more jobs and more businesses attract more people and it frees up people’s time when they can go out and get all their shopping done in one spot.”
He said the BIA has done surveys that have shown roughly 80 per cent of people in Cloverdale do their primary shopping across the border in Langley. With zoning changes that would allow more commercial space to open up, Orazietti thinks Cloverdale could offer locals shoppers mostly everything they’re looking for without having to go very far.
Orazietti said the BIA is also working on some 2023 rodeo-related items, including the Cloverdale Bed Races, the rodeo parade, and some other small events.
“We want to be more involved,” he added. “We’re going to work more with the truck museum and have a greater presence on the Fairgrounds during the (rodeo).”
He added the chilli cook-off is still up in the air though.
“We’ll have to play it by ear. We have to err on the side of caution, but right now we’re trying to move forward with a sense of normalcy.”
He said the BIA is also looking at adding one or two festivals to Coverdale’s summer calendar.
“We’re looking at doing a recurring event. We have a few ideas, but it will depend on cost on how much sponsorship we can get. There is definitely a desire, we just need to figure out how and how much.”
He said any recurring event would likely take place in one of the city parking lots so that roads wouldn’t have to be closed as traffic control costs for events have skyrocketed.
“We believe, once we come up with an event template, that it should be easy to say, ‘yes, this will work,’ or ‘no, this won’t work.’ We should be able to take that template and figure out if a proposed event will be viable or not.”
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