Friday, February 17, 2017

A not so inviting vision for tourists, or would be investors to be found in downtown area

During the course of the Prince Rupert and District Chamber of Commerce luncheon this week, Tourism Prince Rupert Chair Scott Farwell made note of some of the visuals that make for the first impression that Prince Rupert may present for visitors to the city.

Farwell, who was looking ahead to the 2017 tourism season called attention to some of the buildings of the community that have fallen into disrepair over the years. He provided a cautionary note on that theme, observing that for many visitors, wandering into an area of the city that features boarded up fronts is an indication that maybe you're in the wrong part of town.

His overview is one that should resonate both with the community and over at City Hall, as the image of a community that is ready for and welcomes investment, isn't a message that is probably gaining much traction when folks take a quick look around.

In a strange way, the abandoned and damaged buildings of Prince Rupert might make for the theme of an interesting tour of the city, each stop offering up a story of interest from the city's past. One for that list, could be the old RCMP detachment that once infamously hosted a grow op in the heart of the downtown core, making for just one of many tales that could be told along the streets of the city.

However, the better course for the City would be to seek out some cooperation from building owners to improve the unsightly locations, many of which have been in their decaying state for years.

Most in town would agree, that for the most part the story of buildings abandoned, or in extreme disrepair, along with block upon block of empty lots claimed by fires over the decades, is one that works against the goal of projecting a community on the rebound from troubled times.

There's much to explore amidst the natural beauty of the North Coast area that can make for very much of an Awesome experience for any visitor, though the list of downtown eyesores certainly would appear to be an element that detracts from the Prince Rupert experience

The majority of Prince Rupert's visual blight that we take note of can be found in the downtown core, with a number of other empty storefronts, or vacant lots to be found along the Third Avenue strip or along Second Avenue between McBride and Five Corners.

Below, is a sample of just a few of the buildings, that Farwell may have been calling attention towards this week, putting some visuals to his comments to the Chamber this week.

Put yourself in the shoes of our visitors, or think to some of your travels to other communities over the years, as you do, jot down what comes to mind when you see a downtown core that looks as follows:

The frequent focal point for criticism of the city's downtown look,
the Old Dairy Queen building makes for the first visual for many
that visit the city

Located on Second Avenue West, the long since abandoned Mohawk Station
is one of three buildings in the immediate area that set the theme of disrepair

The Totem theatre building, the movies and Bingo games ended long ago
yet it remains one of the city's major visual eyesores
situated in the heart of the downtown core

The former RCMP building on Second Avenue West,
a location which has had many tenants over the years.
Some of them pursuing interests on both sides of the law. 

Extra! Extra! Read All About it!
The Old Daily News building, once a bustling centre of information for
the community, has seen many proposals since the paper closed but few follow ups.

Many still long for the days of a bucket of KFC, the old store for the
popular fast food franchise has remained empty for many years since
the company departed the city.

One of a number of buildings on the western fringe of the downtown core,
many tourists may not even make it this far down Third Avenue.

Another of Prince Rupert's historic commercial buildings now sits empty
at the western end of Third Avenue.

The Old CNR station on the waterfront, while the City of Prince Rupert  pursues grant opportunities
for the historic building at Rotary Waterfront Park, the boarded up windows make
for a backdrop for tourist's photos that won't put the city in the best light

Notes related to the tourism industry on the North Coast can be found on our archive page here.

More background on Chamber of Commerce initiatives is available from our Chamber archive.


  1. I think the brick building on the waterfront would make an awesome artists studio place where you could walk through and see artists at work and buy art.
    PR could use one of the buildings as kids place to play on trampolines and in bouncy castles. There's one in Lethbridge, AB.
    The old garage could be used for home mechanics to help teenagers fix up their cars.
    In short, I think Rupert needs caring groups of adults who can offer expertise in certain skills to help and mentor youth.

  2. I also think the city should enforce whoever owns some of these buildings to paint and clean up their property. PR looks pretty ugly in some areas even in the residential districts. It does not encourage anyone to want to visit or start a business there.

  3. I visited Medicine Hat this year - same issues with the old downtown core - many empty storefronts. To counter the empty windows, old but not valuable items were set on display. For example - a wooden box with some old black and white photos. An old bike and cart in another. The street had twenty such buildings - only about six were actually occupied but it didn't look abandoned. Just a thought. :)