The Town of Stettler decided a vacant lot on Main Street will be renovated to become a Japanese park and pedestrian walkway linking the business zone with a nearby parking lot. The decision was made at the May 16 regular meeting of council.
Councillors read a report from Manager of Planning and Development Leann Graham describing the odyssey of 4915 50th Street, located immediately beside Tom’s Boots, and efforts to honour Stettler’s twin city in Japan.
“In late 2020 the Town of Stettler acquired the property located at 4915 50 Street following compliance enforcement resulting in the demolition of a derelict building leaving the vacant parcel as it is today,” stated Graham’s report.
“The property has been for sale by the town since early 2021.
“The economic development subcommittee as well as the downtown improvement committee identified a need to improve the former Hub parking lot which has resulted in the rebrand to Okoppe parking lot with improvements done to date.
A large part of this discussion included creating connection from Main Street to the Okoppe parking lot.
“Original discussions regarding the property at 4915 50 Street as a connection point involved retaining a walkway and continuing to market the remainder property however in order to construct and maintain a functional and appealing walkway it was quickly determined that the remaining lands would not be suitable for development as the parcel would be far too narrow.”
Graham described the lot as 25 feet by 120 feet and about 3,000 feet square. It’s currently zoned commercial and its assessed value is $42,840.
Coun. Gord Lawlor stated he felt the twin city relationship with Okoppe, Japan is very much embraced but at the same time dormant in Stettler and the effort of naming a parking lot after Okoppe didn’t seem adequate enough.
Along with conceptual art for the proposed park and walkway Graham also included photos of Okoppe’s park dedicated to Stettler which appears to include full-size train cars.
Lawlor pointed out the proposed Okoppe park would be a pleasant place for residents and visitors to rest, eat a meal or socialize.
“It really is a step in the right direction,” said Lawlor.
Coun. Scott Pfeiffer stated features that attract people to Main Street are important.
“I think this would be a great addition to our Main Street,” said Pfeiffer.
Coun. Travis Randell noted the town’s relationship with Okoppe was approaching its 35th anniversary, “…and all we had was a parking lot.” Randell added he feels the park and walkway will be popular with people.
Mayor Sean Nolls pointed out the practical aspects of the project, including making the Okoppe parking lot much easier to access from Main Street, thus addressing demand for parking in the downtown core. Coun. Wayne Smith agreed with the mayor.
Councillors unanimously approved by resolution The Economic Development Sub-Committee’s recommendation that the Town of Stettler approve the designation and retention of 4915 50 Street to be developed as “Okoppe Way” and further direct administration to proceed with initial designs and budget considerations.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Jun 01, 2023