City Preps for Phase 2 of Waterfront Development Plan

Markets, pop-up events, concerts and festivals topped the list of favourite activities for the future on the Sault waterfront, according to a survey conducted by the City of Sault Ste. Marie.

The City just completed Phase 1 of developing a long-term plan for the riverfront, straddling the downtown core.

City and Tourism Sault Ste. Marie launched a survey Dec. 11, 2023 to gather the public’s thoughts on their vision for the waterfront’s future. The survey was live until Jan. 5 of this year.

A total of 911 people participated in the survey, which garnered more than 3,700 comments.

The core of the study is an area stretching from Roberta Bondar Place to the Bushplane Museum, including Elgin, Spring, Brock and East Streets. 

There’s a secondary boundary from the Canal District to the former Hospital site.

The survey asked people to give their thoughts on activities, events, and programming and what they’d like to be able to participate in at the waterfront in the future.

Markets and pop-up or temporary events were tied at the top in the Events and Programming category, getting the nod from 86 per cent of respondents. Concerts and festivals were next at 83 per cent, followed by cultural events at 76 per cent.

Travis Anderson, the City’s Director of Tourism & Community Development, was elated with the response.

“I thought it was great to see the level of community involvement,” said Anderson. “With over 900 responses to our survey and engagement at the public sessions we had an unprecedented level of feedback from the community. I would say that the feedback was very positive with people being excited about the prospect of building off the great waterfront we have and enhancing its usage for residents and visitors alike.”

In the public survey, under Activities, walking was No. 1 with respondents at 86 per cent, followed by shopping and dining at 74 per cent.

Twenty-five per cent of respondents visit the waterfront weekly, while 22 per cent frequent the riverfront a few times per month.

City and Tourism Sault Ste. Marie is working with the consulting firm 02 Planning and Design to develop a vision document for the next 20 years.

Input from residents, through the survey, workshops and interviews will help the project team set strategic goals and develop design concepts.

The ultimate goal is to make the Sault waterfront and downtown world class, striking a themed balance between commerce, recreation and green space.

Connecting the downtown to the waterfront is a key component of the plan. Anderson says this includes a “seamless transition” between Queen Street and the waterfront. 

“It can be achieved through design principles, enhancing the current connecting streets, making them more walkable and appealing through design and activation. This could include adding seasonal shops, activities, food vendors. etc.”

Public interest in having a say in the waterfront’s future is a source of excitement for planners. Anderson says recent developments and increased enjoyment along the riverfront and downtown are helping to fuel interest for further development.

“What excites me is that we are seeing a huge amount of interest in our waterfront from locals and visitors alike,” says Anderson. “Usage by local residents shot up during Covid and has remained high. We’ve also seen an increase in usage by tourists, including cruise-ship and Miss Marie Lock Tour passengers. Combined there were over 17,000 passengers. There’s a great opportunity to capitalize on this interest and develop a world-class waterfront that attracts visitors and keeps them here longer, increasing visitor spending and creating a positive economic impact for the community.”

Anderson says Phase 1 data will be taken and used to develop design concepts for Phase 2.

“The design consultant will take what was heard from the public and attempt to capture it in the design documents.” he says. “The draft design will then be shared with the public for an opportunity to provide further input, so that the design concepts can be refined. It’s expected the next engagement sessions will occur in April.”

The complete results of the Public Survey and other details of the development plan can be viewed at the City’s website

4 thoughts on “City Preps for Phase 2 of Waterfront Development Plan

  1. All involved need to have a final review the definition of ‘insanity’ for the last time before they squander more tens of millions on the thoroughly dead horse that they refer to as ‘downtown’.
    Put this insane amount of money towards things that the city desperately needs not more useless concrete and pipe dreams of things that could have been, but will never be now as that ship sailed a long long time ago.
    The city is well aware of the ongoing crime, homelessness, starvation, mental issues that are dragging the city down more and more every day, but continue with this charade that squandering millions on the long dead downtown will somehow fix everything??
    The knights of the city council round table don’t have half a brain between them.

  2. I guess fixing the shot roads (which amounts to approx 70% of them) is just simply too much to ask or even hope for, and in reality an impossibility with the backwards priorities of this ineffective city council and the way they have squandered the money for decades that should have fixed the roads long ago with other unbelievably irresponsible decisions.
    Doing anything about the deplorable shot roads and infrastructure always comes in dead last, no matter what.

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