ACOA contributing $500,000 towards Yarmouth's downtown revitalization project

Town, business and property owners are also partnering in this initiative

Tina Comeau tcomeau@thevanguard.ca
Published on April 13, 2015

Matthew Trask, the executive director of the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce, Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood and West Nova MP Greg Kerr, are all very pleased to see the investment that is going to be made in Yarmouth's downtown.

©TINA COMEAU PHOTO

YARMOUTH – Yarmouth’s downtown will be getting a facelift to make it more attractive and inviting to pedestrians and businesses and the federal government announced on Monday, April 13, that it is contributing $500,000 towards this revitalization project in Yarmouth.

The official announcement was made Monday morning, April 13, at the Yarmouth town hall by West Nova MP Greg Kerr. The Government of Canada's contribution comes through ACOA’s Innovative Communities Fund.

This revitalization project – which will see an overall investment of about $1.3 million – includes three main components.

One is façade improvements, which are being cost shared by business owners and the Town of Yarmouth. Business owners who have signed up for the program will receive matching dollars from the town, up to a maximum of $5,000.

Around 30 businesses will be participating in the façade program, which can include many facets: the painting of buildings, drawing attention to architectural features of buildings, making changes to signage and adding other decorative features.

At a meeting last fall, property owners looking to spruce up their properties met with Ekistics Planning and Design – the firm that has been working with the town in its downtown revitalization efforts – and were given advice and suggestions about façade improvements.

At that meeting Chris Crawford of Ekistics said Yarmouth’s Main Street is fortunate in that it isn’t starting from scratch.

“We’ve done a lot of these façade programs in the province,” he said, “particularly Yarmouth has a really rich history of unbelievably beautiful buildings. It’s such a great starting point.”

The town’s fund-matching program is being managed by the not-for-profit Yarmouth Façade Society, which is assisting in both the roll-out of funds and the intake of interested property owners. The town has said it is very pleased to see such strong interest in this façade program.

This stage of the façade program targets Main Street between King and Forest streets, although the town hopes in its budget process next year to expand this geographical area north and south.

Another component of the downtown revitalization are streetscape enhancements to make the downtown more attractive and pedestrian friendly. This will include introducing bike accommodation zones, benches and a variety of landscaping elements such as new lighting, trees and shrubs. This first stage will focus on a section of Main Street between John and Cliff streets.

The third component of the revitalization project is a downtown identity development branding project that includes signage, banners and kiosks.

“A vibrant downtown core with design elements that encourage the leisurely exploration of businesses and sites of historical and cultural significance will be a valuable asset for Yarmouth,” said Kerr. “Our government’s investment in community infrastructure will build on what the downtown already has to offer, creating an even more appealing environment for visitors and residents alike.”

He applauded the town for investing in its downtown.

“What does happen is when you do invest and you do commit to the future, that’s when you see the results,” he said. “People are talking about Yarmouth in a positive way in other areas.”

Mayor Pam Mood said by making Yarmouth’s downtown core more attractive and inviting – and hopefully capturing more of the ferry traffic arriving in the province on Nova Star – this revitalization project will create economic spin-offs for the community’s merchants and services. She also hopes it will help to attract more business. She says this investment helps to create a “renewed sense of pride in our town.”

“It's not about the fanciness or how pretty it is, it’s about the ability to say, ‘Look what we have for everybody,’ and it draws people to the area," she said.

It is hoped the façade program will start to roll out soon, now that the weather is more accommodating for the work to begin. A goal would be to have the work completed before the busy summer season starts but even if there is still work taking place, or scaffolding here or there, Mayor Mood asks people to look beyond the inconveniences and see the bigger picture – this being the end result.

Other components of the revitalization, such as streetscape work, may be spread over this year and next. The town says the timing of some of the work will also depend on infrastructure improvements to sewer and water lines that will also be carried out.