By Erik Eriksson

It is important for a community to have a healthy Downtown. I think our downtown is doing pretty good and I have some thoughts about how it could be better.

First of all, I think that since Downtown Courtenay is really Downtown Comox Valley, we should start referring to it as such. Then, we would look upon Downtown as being not just 5th Street from Cliffe to Fitzgerald, but rather from Lewis Centre to Fitzgerald and from 4th Street to 11th Street .

This causes one’s senses to bring the large green space of Lewis and Simms Parks, the Courtenay River and the entire business district into Downtown.

Second, we should work to create a gathering place on the Courthouse lawn with benches and picnic tables. The beautiful boulevard on that stretch of Cumberland Road would get the appreciation it deserves.

Third, we should replace the monstrous 5th Street Bridge with a complete bridge like the Craigflower Bridge in suburban Victoria.

Downtown Comox Valley isn't just about the cafes and shops along 5th Street.

Downtown Comox Valley isn’t just about the cafes and shops along 5th Street from Cliffe to Fitzgerald

The 5th Street Bridge is unsafe for cyclists, too small for buses and it effectively separates our downtown from the river and the parks on the other side. (And, it is an eyesore.) A new, complete bridge would bring everything together.

Finally, we should brand the Comox Valley as Festival Valley. We celebrate every aspect of the Valley with some kind of Festival, one after the other, virtually throughout the entire year.

Music and culture with MusicFest, The North Island Festival of the Performing Arts, Filberg Festival, Elevate the Arts and CYMC Festival of Summer Sounds, agriculture with Comox Valley Exhibition, aquaculture with the Shellfish Festival, the military with the AirShow, recreation with Snow to Surf and sports tournaments – the list goes on and on.

I suspect the burgeoning craft brewery community might bring on a vibrant OktoberFest.

Then Downtown Comox Valley would be Downtown Festival Valley and along with the other ideas listed above, would move it up a notch or two from pretty good to great.

Erik Eriksson is a Courtenay City Councillor and an enthusiastic Icelandic soccer fan.

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