Downtown Biz shares dream for future

Sancho the Clown is one of many buskers already performing in Kamloops and the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Area would like to see even more street performers in downtown.

KAMLOOPS — Planters, paint, patios and food trucks are all part of the dream Gay Pooler has for the downtown core, and much of it will begin this year.

The Kamloops Central Business Improvement Area general manager says they want to set the stage for more people to enjoy the downtown area by building on some programs already in place and starting some new initiatives as well.

“We're taking inspiration from others,” Pooler says, adding it's important to have a vibrant downtown. “No matter where business sets up we'll look at downtown as measure of city.”

Food trucks are on tap for 2014 in downtown and though the details and locations are still being finalized Pooler says two key areas they are looking at are St. Andrews on the Square and by the TNRD building. Both those locations have a courtyard area where people can sit to eat making them ideal locations.

Creating patio areas or gathering spots in empty lots is also something they are looking at, Pooler says. There are several empty lots along the Victoria Street frontage currently used as parking that could make good sitting areas with a little paint and a few planters. Creating new public space on public and private land is a project the business association is currently partnering on for underutilized spaces.

Pooler notes the project will begin with temporary spaces but the long term goal is to have a permanent gathering place downtown to help create a 'vibrant commercial environment.'

Part of being more vibrant also means more murals in the back alleys, more street performers and expansion of the ambassador program to year-round service. Pooler notes more funding will be required to achieve some of these, but she is not looking to the city for that funding.

Funding for the ambassador program and the back alley murals comes from grants. In the case of the murals, provincial job creation funding pays part of the artists' and assistants' fees to help the assistants become 'more employable.' The business owners cover the cost of materials.

To contact a reporter for this story, email, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.

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