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Revitalization co-ordinator shares interesting survey numbers with Picton BIA

Tom Coke addressed a full house of BIA members at their annual meeting at the County Canteen.

Tom Coke addressed a full house of BIA members at their annual meeting at the County Canteen.

Using survey data from both customers and businesses, Tom Coke is well on his way to putting together framework to incorporate into revitalization plans for the County’s five downtowns.

“We are looking at the downtowns of Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, Consecon and Rossmore as the focus, but also one strategy for the County as a whole,” said Coke, the project’s co-ordinator, addressing members of the Picton BIA at their annual meeting Tuesday night.

“Each of the plans will have four pillars of study – economic development, leadership and management, physical improvements and marketing and promotion.”

Each plan is to be completed by Dec. 31, 2016, combined with a trade area analysis report now being finalized by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Coke shared some interesting points from the resident and business surveys conducted last fall to collect information on shopping patterns, trends and suggestions.

Tailoring his remarks to Picton, he told BIA members:

“Forty-two per cent of businesses in Picton have been in operation for 10 or more years; 40 per cent own their own building, 85 per cent are family-owned and 93 per cent have an owner involved somewhat in the day-to-day operations.”

Among issues that “are no shock to anyone”, Coke said number one is parking, location and availability, followed by accessibility and lack of public washrooms, inconsistent storefront hours, the seasonal nature of Picton and the perceived notion of too many service based businesses in Picton.

He noted business survey respondents wanted to see new building or renovation grants, free parkng and facade improvements, streetscape programs and second-storey development grants. Development of the harbour, festivals, shop local campaigns, public washrooms and internet and computer workshops were also listed under desires.

“Sixty-per cent of business owners shop locally and 80 per cent of respondents said they direct business to other downtown businesses,” said Coke. “Sixty-two percent of respondents, within the next three years, plan on their business remaining the same; 20 per cent plan an expansion; eight per cent are re-locating and four per cent are planning to close.”

Coke said he was pleased to note 56 per cent of all respondents have seen their sales trends rise over the last three years and 54 per cent predict continued growth.

Among the 540 responses to the residents’ survey, statistics show 67per cent shop in downtown Picton two or more times a week while 4.4 per cent shop there rarely, or never.

“We saw 78 per cent of those people shopping are running quick errands – gas, bank, quick in-and-out; 86 per cent are doing grocery shopping. Interestingly, 68 per cent buy their clothing outside of Prince Edward County and 88 per cent buy their furniture outside of the County.”

“The three characteristics showing for shopping out of the County were better operating hours, better prices and closer to work.”

While 40 per cent of businesses said they would extend store hours on Friday nights, Coke said pretty much the same percentage of respondents said they wouldn’t use the extended store hours.

“On downtown specifics, 60 per cent of respondents said the prices of products and services are reasonably priced and 59 per cent “love the look and feel of their downtown and over 90 per cent feel safe in their downtown.”

Overall 84 per cent said they love to shop local and try to do so whenever possible.

The next step of the revitalization project is work with a landscape architect to create community designs for each of the five downtowns.

The Downtown Revitalization Project is led by the five downtowns through a volunteer based steering committee and coordinated by the County. It is a two-year partnership between The County, The Chamber of Commerce and OMAFRA.

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  1. lawrence cornett says:

    Surveys and all data are helpful; however, coordination with roads is essential.
    As Denis Fox notes, good roads, like the new section to Waupoos encourage travel.
    Our ‘gateway’ road to the east is #49.
    Who has surveyed truck traffic to Essroc and the new quarry, and from town to the 401?
    Stone chips and concrete chunks on our roads demonstrate that we need a ‘roads survey’ to go along with our ‘towns survey.’

  2. Chuck says:

    It’s crucial to ensure that any brick (which I truly like) is resistant to the street salts which are not at all friendly to the material. You can stipulate safety salt but you cannot keep the deadly street salt off.

  3. Marnie says:

    There is an element of deja vu here. Many years ago the BIA did something similar. Decorative brickwork was used in Main Street sidewalks and trees were planted along both sides of the street.In a few years time the brickwork became an eyesore and the subsequent patch job was hideous. The trees grew larger than anticipated and have caused problems. The new light standards with the ye olde look were promptly decorated with signs that detracted from them in a big way. Let’s hope this time around we get something better.

  4. Dennis Fox says:

    Revitalizing our 5 downtowns is a worthwhile project – provided that the money can be found and that the public aren’t paying for improvements to privately owned buildings – infrastructure is another matter. What portion of these studies is funded by the taxpayer and what is paid for by the BIAs? As a rural taxpayer, as much as I like to shop locally, I have no one helping me with my well and septic when I need it or wanting to even put hard pan on the roads I take to town. I have chipped my windshield twice this year already! I think it would serve council well to explain to all, just how this revitalization benefits everyone.

  5. Sandar says:

    The survey has very interesting information. It sounds about accurate as to those who responded, be further interesting to know from which areas the info was gathered.

    I thought about filling in the survey, but thought some of the questions were confusing . . . negating any relevance my answers would have on revitalization or the proposed central areas ie: Rossmore, Wellington, Picton. I wondered how a resident in Picton could relate to shopping in Wellington, Rossmore or even Consecon? I know some residents think that driving to Wellington from Cherry Valley is too far. How relative would their answers be on a questionnaire to make investment in that area?

    Ask the tourists and cottagers in summertime for their input; it might open our eyes a little wider. They are the ones contributing financially to the whole investment in the county. The locals sit and wait for their return every year.

    The survey was a good thing.

  6. Sandar says:

    Chuck, they say it looks similar to downtown Milford. You blink and or you’ll miss downtown Rossmore. When you hit the light at the Whitney bridge . . . oops, you’ve missed it.

  7. Marnie says:

    Shop local? How? So many everyday items that once could be found here are no longer available. It is necessary to drive to Belleville for them i.e. a decent selection of mini-blinds, a man’s sports jacket or suit (not from a thrift shop), or women’s clothing in the medium price range as opposed to ‘blows apart first time in washer’ or ‘priced for the wealthier consumer’. All we have now are high end stores selling high-priced merchandise. Sad that Stedman’s closed and also The County Furniture Gallery.

  8. Chuck says:

    Where is downtown Rossmore?

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