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St. Stephen looking to improve Gateway Park as entrance to town and country

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They say first impressions are everlasting, so one of the entrances into the Maritimes is getting set for a facelift.

The municipality of St. Stephen, N.B., has begun discussion on reimagining Gateway Park, which is the first thing people travelling from south of the border see when they enter Canada. Currently on the site sits a replica covered bridge that is boarded up after the town’s homeless population made it an encampment site during the winter months.

“It’s the entrance to New Brunswick,” points out St. Stephen Mayor All MacEachern. “We are the gateway to the province, so it is very important to help guide people coming across the bridge and make it a pleasant experience coming across the border.”

The idea was first brought to council in March by Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Renaud during a Committee of the Whole meeting. While no plans have been set, potential ideas include removing the replica covered bridge currently on site in place of a visitor information centre.

There is limited parking in the area which could make putting a visitor information centre in that area difficult. The mayor urges residents to not read too much into any of the ideas being thrown out at this time as many discussions still need to be had.

“We are a little early on that because there is a lot to look at,” he says. “We have to make sure it works right because it’s pretty congested there.”

New signage for the area has also be discussed, as well as great accessibility access, connecting the small park to the neighbouring cenotaph.

“It’s challenging near the cenotaph as far as accessibility goes probably to say that least,” admits Renaud. “In our initial discussion we said, well we would like to see it, because we own all that land there, a nice smooth ramp or whatever, so we could get people with mobility issues up there.”

The Business Improvement Association is hopeful an improved entrance will drive up tourist numbers.

“Our goal is to have people stop and shop and dine and socialize and checkout what we have,” says St. Stephen Business Improvement Association executive director, Heather Donahue. “We don’t want them to driving through St. Stephen, we want them to stop.”

There is no timeline for when any work will begin as the municipality still needs to finalize any plans.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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