Last week saw the announcement of three community beautification/development projects for public spaces in Duncan and Cowichan Bay.
In Duncan, plans are being sought for both 58 Station St., currently a blank lot with a few basic facelifts so it’s not an eyesore in the downtown core, and Whistler Street, located in the heart of the opioid crisis/homeless epidemic.
In Cowichan Bay plans are underway for a new patio portal that will see space created where people can sit and enjoy events or just enjoy the waterfront.
We think all three projects are good ideas, but there are always detractors, namely those who don’t want to see taxpayers’ money spent on what they consider to be frivolous things. But these kinds of projects aren’t as much window dressing as they might appear on the surface.
Beautification projects pay dividends in ways that people may not expect. Making communities and desirable areas like the waterfront or right downtown more accessible has many important benefits for individuals and the community as a whole.
As proponents of the Whistler Street project have said, making this a more friendly area of town where people other than homeless people and drug addicts want to hang out is a way of taking back the space for the people that live and work there. The Citizen offices used to be located on Whistler Street so it’s an area whose problems we know well, and we applaud the idea of sprucing it up. Think it won’t do anything? Just ask anyone who lives around Centennial Park in Duncan about how much things have changed since the city installed amenities like the big children’s playground, a community garden with the Cowichan Green Community, and a pizza oven and picnic area, among other things. Now, families, seniors and everyone in between enjoys this park.
Outdoor areas also encourage people to get to know one another, create bonds within the community, and encourage people to exercise and participate.
Beautification isn’t a waste of money. It’s a relatively cheap way to reap huge benefits.