Changes to be made to the concept for the revitalization for Centennial Square in Sparwood. (Image courtesy of District of Sparwood)

Centennial Square goes back to the drawing board

Sparwood councillors stripped millions worth of features from the plan and sent it back for a review

Sparwood councillors have pared back grand plans for the Centennial Square revitalization based on concerns about parking and cost.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, councillors directed staff to strip millions worth of proposed features and projects from the plan and bring it back again.

Mayor David Wilks said it was “back to the drawing board”.

“We’ll come up with something that works for everybody,” he said. “I will personally go to every business, and I will personally review it with every business owner prior to ensure it’s what they envision.”

The grand, complete plan as presented by a consulting company that was working off community feedback envisioned a project clocking in at around $6 million spread across six different areas in the downtown area around Centennial Square.

Under that plan, not only would the Centennial Plaza have been completely re-done to be a pedestrian-friendly promenade, the district would have also purchased land from the neighbouring Catholic Church for more green space, Centennial Street would have been revitalized, the parking plaza to the east of the square would have been re-done, landscaping works would be carried out around the municipal hall and a pedestrian promenade would link the Centennial Square area to Aspen Drive.

But after Tuesday, most of that is off the table, with only the re-vitalization of Centennial Plaza and the purchase of church lands still on the table – for now.

Wilks said he wanted a new, revised plan to come back to council in April as he believed the project could still go ahead in 2021.

“I think there’s a way forward this year that will accommodate everybody.”

Council discussion had focused in on cost, parking and debate around whether Centennial Square was meant to be for locals or tourists.

Councillor Ron Saad said he was firmly of the belief the project should be local-focused, saying visitors to Sparwood had the Titan Truck to look at.

“Centennial Square needs to be more usable for the taxpayers of Sparwood, not the tourists,” he said.

Councillor Jason Christensen agreed it was important to focus on locals, but said there was an opportunity to give tourists more to stop for in town given Sparwood’s location between Calgary and destinations beyond the Elk Valley.

Councillor Brad Bowen focused in on parking and accessibility for seniors, saying he didn’t approve of plans that would reduce parking. Business feedback also focused on store-front parking.

During discussions Mayor Wilks said that Centennial Square was for the locals as it was designed, and as per the proposed design, saying that any tourists that came by was a bonus.

He added that while the plan was seemingly grand, it was not without precedent, pointing to the two pedestrian bridges linking the two main parts of Sparwood across the Elk River.

“There was a vision they would be used,” he said, recounting that they were denounced as ‘bridges to nowhere’ when proposed.

“We provided in excess of $3 million in improvements with no guarantee that they were going to be used, but we recognized that it was for the betterment of the community as a whole.”

The bridges have since become well-used and critical pieces of infrastructure in the town.

Nonetheless, Wilks along with the rest of council directed staff to remove millions from the squares project scope, and to bring back a new plan that considered the retention of storefront parking, though what that would look like was also a subject of debate amongst councillors. Under the proposed plan, only 24 spots would have been lost, but this was deemed unacceptable as they would have been store-front spots.

READ MORE: Sparwood to review, vote on Centennial Square concept tomorrow
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Municipal Government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

It costs as little as $7 to charge an EV at home. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Electric Vehicles a rare sight (in the Kootenays), but change on the way

Electric pickups will increase the appeal of zero-emission vehicles in years to come according to Blair Qualey of the New Car Dealers Association

Linda Krawczyk and her dad Doug Finney enjoyed a ride around beautiful Fernie on Friday thanks to Melanie Wrigglesworth and the local chapter of Cycling Without Age. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Cycling Without Age goes for its first spin

Doug Finney (86) got to enjoy a ride around Fernie

The Cranbrook Community Forest is good to go for mountain biking. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Snow’s done, time to hit the trails

South Country trails are good to go

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Most Read