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New Corridors to the Waterfront: Development of Hall Street and Cottonwood Creek to Come Before Council This Fall

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
October 5th, 2012

Nelson residents will see major changes to Hall Street and to the Cottonwood Creek corridor over the next few years as the Sustainable Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan comes into effect.

Later in the fall, Council will vote on a proposal to incorporate many parts of that plan into Nelson’s Official Community Plan.

Hall Street: pedestrian plaza, boulevard trees, a waterfront park

Hall Street is the only direct corridor between Baker Street and the lakefront, so the City plans to refurbish its entire length by making it more pedestrian friendly with boulevard trees and improved sidewalks. The southern-most block of Hall Street (by Bibo and Boomtown Sports) will become a pedestrian plaza with trees and benches.

One of the main goals of the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan, completed in 2011, is to establish connections between Baker Street and the lakefront.

“We have applied for a grant,” says City Manager Kevin Cormack, “that would allow us to do the whole street, from Bibo to the wharf, also creating a small park down at the Prestige where there is parking now. We would reduce some of that parking and make it a green space and the wharf would become a public amenity.

“We also want to make the Hall and Front intersection much more prominent, as the gateway to the waterfront, so we will be looking at things like banners that will identify that as an important focal point at the waterfront.”

Railtown: housing, green space, creek restoration, and a park at the waterfront

At the other end of Baker Street, work will continue on the restoration of the Cottonwood Creek ecosystem, and the length of the creek from the falls to the lakeshore will see the development of green space, signage, public art, and a pathway. There will be a park at the mouth of the creek.  The new railing on the Baker St. Bridge, built by by artist Brent Bukowski earlier this year, is part of that plan, as is some current planting and restoration work underway just south of the bridge.

The area around the creek and the CPR station will be known as Railtown.

Housing will also be part of the renewal of the Railtown area. The city has acquired three houses in the vicinity of Cottonwood Autobody.

“We are looking at how we add a multi-family housing development down there, and we have applied for a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to develop a neighbourhood plan,” says Cormack.

Transfer station and the CPR building

The removal of the transfer station is also part of this picture, but this has been set back because of the flooding at the landfill near Salmo this past summer, meaning Nelson residents will be using the current transfer station for up to another two years.

The old CPR railway station will be refurbished to house the Visitor Centre, the Chamber of Commerce offices, the Economic Development office, the Kootenay Lake Tourism office and some retail.

All of this work is dependent on anticipated grants from various senior governments, senior municipal organizations, and other agencies.

And much more: Red Sands park, streetcars, new design guidelines, downtown density, and moving the mall

Other longer-term provisions of the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan that are proposed to be included the Official Community Plan at a meeting of City Council later this fall include:

  • A new park at Red Sands beach to act as the eastern terminus of a completed waterfront pathway
  • An expanded streetcar network
  • Creation of more civic spaces as neighbourhood gathering places
  • Commercial and residential infill downtown to reinforce its role as the nucleus of the city
  • New building design guidelines to “relate new construction to heritage buildings”
  • Possible relocation of the Chako Mika mall to develop that area as residential.

Who’s involved?

The Cottonwood and Hall Street projects each has a committee of elected officials, city staff, and community members working on the planning, as follows:

Railtown- Cottonwood Creek

  • Eileen Pearkes, Cottonwood Creek Restoration Group
  • Allan Thompson, Cottonwood Creek Restoration Group
  • Dianna Ducs, Kootenay Lake Tourism
  • Tom Thompson, Chamber of Commerce
  • Stephanie Fischer, arts and culture community
  • David Reid, West Kootenay Ecosociety
  • Justin Palant, business community
  • Kevin Cormack, City Manager
  • Daphne Powell, City Planner
  • Joy Barrett, Cultural Development Officer
  • Karen Macdonald, Public Works Manager
  • Mayor John Dooley
  • Councillor Candace Batycki

Hall Street-Baker Street

  • Bob Inwood, heritage community and business owner
  • Margaret Stacy, Nelson Business Association
  • Randy Horswill, business community
  • Kevin Cormack, City Manager
  • Joy Barrett, Cultural Development Officer
  • Councillor Robin Cherbo
  • Councillor Deb Kozak


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