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
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
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
Façade improvements continue to be made downtown, Clarke said. Last year, 26 per cent of funding from
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.
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
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.”