The current Sidney Council has laid the groundwork for the new council which will be elected November 15th, by unanimously endorsing the Final Report and Recommendations put forward by the Mayor’s Downtown Revitalization Task Force at last evening’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
Although unable to attend the meeting, Mayor Larry Cross expressed his gratitude for the work of the Task Force, stating; “I realize countless hours went into developing this final report and recommendations. On behalf of Town Council, I would like to thank each member of the Task Force for all of their hard work. I would also encourage the new council, to move forward with these recommendations as they provide an excellent roadmap for our town’s future sustainability and economic development.”
In brief, the four key recommendations brought forward by the Task Force are; Town of Sidney to:
1. Take on a more active role in a formalized Economic Development function.
2. Review key policies that may inhibit, or further enhance, Economic Development.
3. Support the Sidney Business Improvement Area (SBIA) in its efforts to market Sidney as a destination.
4. Undertake planning and physical improvements that will positively impact Economic Development.
Mark Dickinson, Chair of the Mayor’s Task Force states, “First, and most importantly, I sincerely thank each and every member of the task force who gave so willingly and freely of their time and expertise. This was a remarkable group of professional, level-headed people who all worked extremely well together. I also thank Town Staff who did a fantastic job of providing tremendous support to the Task Force and ensuring we always had everything we needed to carry out our job.
I must also recognize and thank members of the public who took the time to provide us with their feedback and ideas. This is what forms the basis of our recommendations; they come directly from the people, and as such, will result in positive action that is supported by our community.
In the end, I believe we have come up with an excellent working document that, if fully embraced and carried out by the next council, will ensure the future economic growth and vitality of our community.”
Dickinson provided a presentation to Committee of the Whole which detailed the work carried out by the Task Force during its six months of operation. He noted that during this time, the Task Force collected 108 suggestions and ideas for downtown revitalization from the public and he, personally received a total of 1,400 email communications related to the Task Force’s work.
The ideas received were compiled into a working document called the RAIL (Revitalization Action Ideas List). In turn, these ideas have been sorted into four, overarching goals as a way to measure performance and manage all of the ideas put forward. These goals are:
1. Increase gross retail sales by seven percent per annum
2. Increase the Town’s population to 15,000 by 2025
3. Achieve and maintain the lowest commercial/retail vacancy rate in the Capital Region
4. Achieve an “A” rating in the “20 Ingredients of an Outstanding Destination”
The Task Force was established by Mayor Larry Cross in April, 2014 and consisted of a diverse mix of representatives from the community, including members from business and downtown property owners, Mary Winspear Centre, Sidney Business Improvement Area, residents, Council and Town staff. The primary objective of the Task Force was to “identify and evaluate the current, controllable factors affecting the economic viability of downtown and formulate achievable actions and strategies to improve business and foster a revitalized town centre”.
The Task Force’s Final Report and Recommendations can be found here.