A restaurant on Main Street will be undergoing some renovations that challenge the town’s mountain theme after getting the thumbs up from Smithers town council on June 27.
Blue Water Sushi on Main Street near the corner of Third Avenue would like to upgrade the interior and the exterior of the building. However, because the outside will include visual alteration of the front facade facing Main Street, the owners had to get a Form and Character Development Permit.
Almost all of council was excited about the changes.
“It’s incredibly encouraging to see this kind of development happening, it’s revitalizing,” said Councillor Sam Raven. “I think it’s just kind of a little bit extra pizzazz in our Main Street.”
However, Mayor Gladys Atrill was a bit unsure about the more contemporary feel of the new design.
“As someone who is a fan of Main Street and the distinction of Main Street from other communities, it’s not that I dislike what is presented here. What I see, in my view, is quite urban,” she said. “And I think we are being guided into another look for downtown and for a while we’re going to have a divided look downtown. And I hope as we evolve through that, that our community still shines as something that is distinct from our neighbours, because that’s actually been the case for a very long time.”
Town planner Deepa Chandran assured the mayor that the proposed design does align with the town’s new mountain theme.
“When we did the OCP [Official Community Plan] update, one of the focus areas was updating and modernizing the Alpine theme, which we’re now calling mountain theme,” she said. “And these are the changes that we are seeing now. So there is an increasing interest in the community to integrate more contemporary design elements into the mountain theme architecture.”
She added that thinking from a business owners perspective, it may be hard to fit in all the elements of the mountain theme into just one design.
“That’s challenging,” she said. “At the same time, we may end up with like very similarly looking buildings throughout downtown. So we want to maintain the core elements of the mountain theme, but at the same time we want to leave that flexibility for creativity in design. I think this design balances that.”
According to a report from Chandran, the existing building has painted wood panel sidings, pitched roof, projecting windows, and knee braces.
As per the proposal, the right side of the existing front siding will be replaced with black-coloured fiber cedar panels and enlarged windows, while the other side will be modified by eliminating the existing window and replacing the existing wood panel with stone cladding and a recessed area for signage.
She wrote the proposed cedar paneled-sign area, the surrounding stone cladding, and the black-coloured cedar panels etc. presents an interesting visual contrast. The rich use of natural elements in visually attractive ways respects the mountain-theme design guidelines while also helping to break the overall building mass.
In the end, the decision to give the Form and Character Development Permit was unanimous.