Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Brandon's pedestrian mall experiment

Brandon, Manitoba

Last week Brandon began a month long experiment with a summer pedestrian mall in the heart of their downtown.

Those of you who have followed this blog since the early days know that I have a past history with Brandon and a soft spot for its downtown. Despite the fact that most Brandonites have a major hate-on for their city centre, which includes any projects aimed at improving it, there have been a lot of interesting things happening there of late.

The pedestrian portion itself is on Rosser Avenue from 9th Street to 10th Street. Traffic flow has been changed on the two streets to accommodate the new arrangement. From Princess to Pacific both are now one-way traffic with angle parking reintroduced.

city's website details the street changes (and provides a truly horrible, illegible map). The Rosser closure ends after a street party on September 18th but the changes to 9th and 10th remain in place.

Brandon, Manitoba

Though the downtown isn't "there" yet as destination, it has certainly overcome the tide of indifference, neglect and demolition that it faced for decades. They still have a decent inventory of interesting buildings. Many that sat underutilized or abandoned are now in the process of being renovated with housing as a big component. (Heck, they've even got free downtown wi fi !)

Introducing one way streets may be counter intuitive to creating a more walkable downtown (as Grant points out) but I get their desire to jam as much additional parking adjacent to the pedestrian mall as they can, at least at the start. Convincing most Brandonites that they can come downtown and walk around is an unenviable task and doing it with less parking, or the perception that there might be less parking, would be putting holes to your hull.

Former Government Telephones Building, Brandon
Brandon General Museum

If you're whizzing by Brandon on the Trans Canada this summer, take time to stop in and check it out. Other spots of note downtown is the historic train station that is being renovated, their new civic museum and impressive Kristopher Campbell Skateboard Park.
Not in the downtown but a definite must-see is the former Brandon Mental Health Centre site, now partly home to Assiniboine Community College.


eBrandon discussion on downtown
Wrong Direction for downtown streets Brandon Sun blog
Downtown visitors welcome changes on Rosser Brandon Sun
Renaissance Brandon website

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