New businesses, big changes coming to Kincardine’s downtown

Section: 
News

By Barb McKay

 

There are some big things happening in Kincardine’s downtown.

 

After a challenging winter, with frequent road closures, things are looking up.

 

“We are coming out of a difficult winter,” said BIA downtown development manager Rick Clarke. “People weren’t visiting Kincardine. Even local people weren’t coming downtown. But we’re looking forward to a good summer season.”

 

New businesses are moving in and there are currently only three vacant commercial spaces on Queen Street from Broadway to Durham Market. Penetangear, an athletic apparel business, will open in May in the location formerly occupied by Lowry Stone, which has moved to Concession 10. Darrel Perry moved to Kincardine from Toronto with his family and is excited to set up shop. He is currently working with J & D Signs to develop the perfect sign and logo that will complement his business and fit in with the rest of the downtown.

 

Further north, in the former Foodland building where Magnum Total Fitness relocated last year, a new daycare is opening. Little Beginnings Day Care and Learning Centre, owned and operated by Kristy Garneau, will be government licensed and will be able to accommodate six infants, 20 toddlers and 16 pre-schoolers in a 3,500-square-foot state-of-the-art centre with a 1,600-square-foot outdoor playground space. The centre is expected to open by July and will offer a variety of programming. There is a waiting list on the centre’s website at www.littlebeginnings.ca.

 

“We’re very excited about that, it’s a great use of the space,” Clarke said.

 

Imagine Consignment has opened in the former Clan Hairdresser building at Durham Street and Queen Street and although Gilbert Jewellery is leaving, another jeweller plans to take over. Further north, Hair Connection will be moving into Quinn’s Plaza.

 

Clarke said there are very few empty storefronts in Lakeside Downtown Kincardine. A prime space at the corner of Lambton and Queen streets is vacant, but improvements are being made to make it more attractive to potential leasees. There are 2,400 square feet of space remaining in the 18,000-square-foot former Foodland building at 911 Queen Street and there is one opening in the plaza that houses the Mac’s convenience store and Godfather Pizza.

 

Façade improvements continue to be made downtown, Clarke said. Last year, 26 per cent of funding from Bruce County’s Spruce the Bruce program was spent in Kincardine. The municipality combined funding with grants from the program for several projects. New Scottish-themed banners were created with Kincardine and the county each contributing $3,050. The municipality spent $15,000 to restore the fountain in Victoria Park, and received $5,000 from Spruce the Bruce for the project. The municipality contributed $12,500 for façade improvements to the lighthouse and received $2,500 grant for paint. Kincardine also chipped in $500 for a Spruce the Bruce application for the Victoria Park Gallery to create new art banners to be hung downtown.

 

Spruce the Bruce provided grants totalling $15,647 for nine projects by private businesses last year. The business owners contributed $127,930.

 

“It’s a testament to how much the businesses believe in Kincardine’s downtown,” said Alanna Young, project co-ordinator with Spruce the Bruce.

 

More business owners have indicated that they are looking at renovations and façade improvements this year.

 

“We are really proud of what the downtown store owners are doing to develop a brand and make it attractive for people to come to Lakeside Downtown Kincardine,” Clarke said.

 

Murray said the municipality is looking at a Spruce the Bruce application for this year to outline the entrances and exits to the municipal parking lot, off of Princes Street, with a tartan pattern in stamped concrete. The project would be in keeping with the municipality’s Scottish-theme branding. The municipality plans to re-pave the parking lot this year.

 

Clarke said the municipality has taken a couple of important steps to ensure that the downtown remains cohesive. The new signage bylaw, in particular, allows for small perpendicular signs but prohibits backlit signs.

 

Kincardine’s newly developed toolkit provides new businesses with guidelines for designing their storefronts. It includes branding information and a colour palate.

 

“That kind of organization is exciting to business owners,” Clarke said, adding that they know their money is being invested in a downtown that knows what it is doing.

 

A couple of new additions are coming to the downtown this year. Council recently approved a bylaw to allow establishments to set up outdoor patios at the front of their businesses.

 

“People love this in the summer,” Clarke said. “You can people watch and you can catch some sun. It only adds to the ambiance of the downtown. We want you to spend some time here.”

 

The municipality signed an agreement with Bruce Telecom last year to provide free Wifi service downtown. Clarke confirmed that Eastlink will honour the agreement and wireless service is expected to be available this summer. In addition, visitor information services will move from Highway 21 to the downtown and will be located with Team Kincardine at 777B Queen Street.

 

Clarke said the BIA is continuing to work with the county’s planning committee on rural economic development grant applications, a marketing study and a business expansion and retention study in an effort to make Kincardine’s downtown a shopping destination.

 

“We have to be more aggressive,” he said. “We compete with municipalities all along the lakeshore for business investment and tourism. We always have to be ahead of other municipalities.”