Main Street Wolseley is progressing forward with its goal and vision to revitalize its historic downtown commercial district.
Members of the Main Street project joined Provincial Heritage Planner Bruce Dawson and Provincial Heritage Architect Patricia Glanville in a meeting and tour of the downtown area on Thursday, Jan. 9.
The provincial representatives met with Main Street members to answer questions about the program, gain feedback and to familiarize themselves with the parameters of the Main Street Wolseley target area.
“We were able to get some technical information from them about heritage design, which was very important and we were also able to show them the Main Street area which will become invaluable as the project goes on,” said Ed Attridge, Main Street Wolseley coordinator. “Overall I thought it was an extremely positive meeting and tour for the future of the project.”
The inaugural Main Street Saskatchewan project is overseen by the Ministry of Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport. The project and will stimulate economic revitalization in four select communities (Wolseley, Indian Head, Prince Albert and Maple Creek) by offering businesses in the historic downtowns matching funds for improvements to their buildings.
The project provides 50 per cent matching dollars to business owners to a maximum of $100,000 a year for three years. The total Main Street project budget for each participating community is $250,000 per year, to a total of $750,000 over three years.
“It is more than putting paint on a building,” said Dennis Fjestad, Mayor and Main Street Wolseley chairperson. “The potential for this project is huge. This can be an extremely powerful and unifying force for our community.”
Investments made by the Main Street project will allow each participating community to succeed and prosper upon individual municipal merit. The project includes four primary components: community organization; promotion; design/heritage/conservation; and economic restructuring. The components will complement one another to ensure the success and revitalization of Wolseley’s defined target area which includes Sherbrooke Street and Front Street, encompassing more than 15 eligible businesses.
“One of the most significant things that is happening is that the public is becoming much more aware of our downtown area and the fact that we can revitalize it,” said Fjestad.
“This isn’t just another government grant; this is seed money that will help a community become more self-sustaining so that people make an investment in their community,” said Bruce Dawson, provincial heritage planner and Main Street Saskatchewan project lead. “The benefits of this program should spill beyond the target area.”
To qualify for participation in the Main Street Wolseley project commercial buildings must be more than 40 years old, must be located within the defined target area and the owners must provide matching funds for the redesign and construction of their business exterior. Main Street Wolseley will conclude in 2014 and will see four projects (one small and three large) completed each year. Construction on the Main Street Wolseley project is slated to begin sometime this spring.
“The project has a definitive timeline and we really are tasked with maintaining the pace of that timeline,” said Attridge. “And of course we have a building season here in Saskatchewan that we must be prepared to take advantage of.”
Attridge is currently in the process of conducting one-on-one business interviews with potential Main Street Wolseley clients. He says nearly half of the interviews have been completed and there is a “strong expression of interest”.
“The process is evolving in a very positive way. It’s generating enthusiasm and it’s creating a greater sense of community within Wolseley,” said Attridge. “It’s helping to empower the citizens, businesses and organizations to move forward with their goals.”
The next developmental stage will be a Visioning and Resource Consult Visit held in late March.