SAULT STE. MARIE -- After a year of planning, Sault Ste. Marie says it has a plan to clean up the struggling Jamestown area.

It has released its five-year draft strategy that will see the city tackle immediate needs and develop solutions to achieve long-term goals in the neighbourhood.

"The city has made some real strides in investing in the downtown and other parts of the city," said Steve Turco, city planner. "But I think it's important to recognize that these more challenged neighbourhoods also need some type of stimulus."

The comprehensive plan will see the addition of more recreational spaces, like soccer pitches and basketball courts. Commercial space will also be added to attract more businesses to the area.

The plan also includes a community garden at the soup kitchen and Turco said the city is also exploring adding a wellness centre.

Address multiple issues

"Something like that could help address multiple issues in the area," he said. "We see that a range of different services, whether it's healthcare or social services, are really needed in that area."

Long-term, the plan also entails a plan to change public perception of the neighbourhood.

"Sure, it's known for its criminal activity, but there's lots of good people here," said Ron Sim, general manager at the Sault Soup Kitchen. "When visitors come to the kitchen to donate, they're always shocked what they actually, really actually do see in the area when they are here, and just keep striving to make sure we're inclusive to everybody."

Sim said he's played a role in trying to improve the area for almost 20 years, also playing a role in this strategy.

But one concern he has is keeping the area affordable.

"Some of the apartments in this area are already way overpriced," he said. "Who knows what's in store for the future?"

The strategy will go before city council for its approval at its next meeting Oct. 26.