The City of Sault Ste. Marie is taking input from the public on how Jamestown - specifically, James Street and Anna Marinelli Park - could be improved both in the physical and socioeconomic sense going forward.
Wednesday’s neighbourhood mixer at the Soup Kitchen Community Centre is just one of four public events being delivered by Shape the Sault, which is an ongoing project intended to help create a new, official plan for the city.
“We’re here to learn more about the neighbourhood,” said senior planner Steve Turco. “This is following up from a council resolution for staff to look at the James Street neighbourhood and see what’s working well, and what are things that perhaps are in need in the neighbourhood - both from some physical improvements that could be had in the neighbourhood, but also maybe some other more economic or social actions that could happen in the neighbourhood as well.”
Two maps of the Jamestown neighbourhood were laid out for those in attendance, with stickers and post-it notes so that the public could identify areas for improvement.
Carol Pepin, who has volunteered her time and efforts to the James Street soup kitchen for just over a year now, figures the neighbourhood - and its many apartment building dwellers - is in need of a convenience store after Queen West Variety was shuttered, in her estimation, about three years ago.
“We do need a store in the area, just for your milk and your bread and, well, a little bit of everything,” she said.
Pepin is also calling for better property standards - she tells SooToday that some buildings are simply unfit to live in due to bedbugs and lack of laundry facilities for some building tenants.
“I think people deserve a little bit better than that - especially Al’s Corner Pub, because there’s too many people that share one bathroom, and it’s very untidy,” Pepin said.
Turco heard the calls for accountability from landlords over property standards during the first neighbourhood mixer, which was attended by 30-40 residents at the soup kitchen Tuesday evening.
There was also talk of having facilities in Jamestown that may help the neighbourhood from a social or cultural perspective.
But one of the main concerns, the city’s senior planner says, is the expressed lack of connectivity between Jamestown and the rest of the city due to Carmen’s Way.
“I think a lot of people are concerned about Carmen’s Way. It’s a real physical impediment,” said Turco. “People are intimidated to cross it.”
Turco says that reconnecting Jamestown to the rest of the city would require some creative thinking.
“That may require some creative solutions to reconnect this neighbourhood,” he said. “We don’t have the solution yet, but that’s definitely something we’re going to look at as part of this exercise.”
Turco says the goal of these focused Jamestown public sessions staged by Shape the Sault is to find solutions that will eventually make the area a “complete, vibrant neighbourhood.”
“We just see that people are passionate about this neighbourhood,” he said. “The people that live here, they care about it - they want to see things improve, but at the same time, there’s a significant amount of pride of the people that live in this neighbourhood, which is really great to see.”
The public is encouraged to attend the Shape the Sault design workshops, which are taking place at the Soup Kitchen Community Centre (172 James Street) Oct. 29-30.
More information can be found at the Shape the Sault website.