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Provincial funding to boost action on plans for County’s five downtowns

Taking part in the RED funding announcement Wednesday, April 20 were (from left) councillor Phil St-Jean, Toby Toth, Consecon business owner, Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith, Hadas Brajtman, Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce, Alexandra Bake, Picton BIA (with Chico) and Mayor Steve Ferguson.

Revitalization plans for Prince Edward County’s five main downtown centres are to be back in action following an announcement of up to $130,000 in cost-sharing funding from the provincial government to hire a downtown revitalization co-ordinator.

Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith announced the Rural Economic Development (RED) program Wednesday morning in support of continued revitalization of downtowns in Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, Consecon and Rossmore.

“We know that small businesses and the tourism sector faced challenges during the pandemic and our government worked hard to get support at the door quickly… the best recipe for recovery and success is in finding ways to get customers right to your door,” said Smith. “With a dedicated downtown revitalization co-ordinator, they can benefit from that resource through efforts like streetscape beautification, shared branding and marketing, events and promotions and enhanced planning and networking… I know there’s going to be a lot of activity in Prince Edward County over the next number of months and hopefully this position will help you be able to manage that a little bit better than in the past.”

Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson was pleased with the funding announcement, noting it has been instrumental in supporting efforts in the community over the years.

The County previously received RED funding to develop downtown action plans and a County-wide plan which were finalized and approved by council in 2018.

The project, started late in 2014 with RED funding and included numerous surveys, reports and studies to identify opportunities for growth in the downtown centres. The five key ratepayer and business associations identified issues of signage, facade improvement, beautification, streetscaping, business retention and expansion, marketing and promotion. County-wide guidelines were also included, that look after concerns in areas beyond the five downtowns.

Though intended to be a two-year project there were several hiccups in late 2016 and 2017 – losing the co-ordinator earlier than expected and a lengthy absence while staff attempted to fill in.

Mayor Ferguson noted the municipality will dedicate staff resources to support work aimed at improving the downtowns “which is incredibly vital as we continue on the path of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The work, he noted, will continue to be done in partnership and collaboration with local BIAs, the Chamber of Commerce, businesses, residents and volunteers.

“This funding will help immensely as we seek to improve the economic, physical and social well-being of the town centres.”

Toby Toth, representing the Greater Consecon Area Business Network, said the funding will benefit the community.

“Over the last couple of decades folks in and around Consecon have been very engaged with downtown development and revitalization discussions with big hopes for great things,” she said. “Government support for this is very exciting news. Village business owners and residents alike are thrilled with the prospect of working to put good ideas into action to ensure our downtown… is one that reflects the deep pride in place and sense of community here.”

Click here (go to agenda item #6.3 and click on the report) to read the more than 300 pages of information on the County-wide and five-downtown action plans; survey results and stated issues of concern.

 

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