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Why Provenzano worries about not seeking a third term as mayor

The downtown plaza is just one part of what Provenzano calls a 'holistic plan' for the city's core. He's hoping the next city council will complete that vision
20161202 Mayor Christian Provenzano Silhouette Black and White KA
Mayor Christian Provenzano looks out the window of his Civic Centre office while posing for a photograph on Dec. 2, 2016. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Christian Provenzano admitted Monday there's at least one thing that makes him anxious about not seeking a third term of office.

"I'll be very earnest with you," Provenzano said during a lengthy city council debate about awarding a construction contract for the downtown plaza.

"One of the only things that makes me anxious about not carrying through with a third term of office is not seeing this work carried through," the mayor said.

Provenzano was explaining that he sees the plaza as important, not just on its own merits but because its part of a much larger scheme for the city's core.

"We didn't just decide to take an empty parking lot and turn it into something."

"This was years of work," the mayor said, pointing out that the plaza issue had been before city council something like a dozen times before the $8.6 million construction contract was awarded Monday to Avery Construction Ltd.

"It's been here at least nine to 12 times, in one way or the other."

"The reason why is this is a holistic plan to invest in our downtown."

"The plaza is just one part of that."

The city's plans for downtown also include the completed reconstruction of Bay Street, rebuilding Queen Street, moving the Mill Market downtown, rerouting the Hub Trail and turning Spring Street into a woonerf.

"If you recall, when we were doing this on Bay Street, we heard a lot of people say to us: 'You really shouldn't do that on Bay Street' and there was some negativity about it."

"Then we did it and there was a lot of positivity about it."

"Queen Street – there is a plan and the community should know that – to redevelop Queen Street."

"We were hoping to get Queen Street during this council term."

"But for a number of reasons, some COVID-related, some not, it's on the books for 2023."

Provenzano said he's especially excited about the city's plans for Spring Street.

"They never called it a 'woonerf.' That's a Dutch word, I think, but there's one of these streets in Halifax."

Provenzano, who attended law school in Halifax, said he remembered "how much fun people had down there."

"I hope the next council moves forward with this project," he said.

"I think it's exciting. I think it would really make a difference in our downtown."

The city's overall scheme for downtown is "a holistic plan," Provenzano stated.

"It will take an ongoing commitment to get it done. It's a staged project."

Ward 5 Coun. Matthew Scott, Ward 3's Matthew Shoemaker and Ward 4's Marchy Bruni voted against awarding the plaza construction contract, expressing concerns about the project's cost and timing.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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