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Main Street statue, outdoor retail strategy pitched to council

City council received a request for support and funding for a new Main Street beautification proposal, including placing statues and possible outdoor retail space on Flin Flon's main drag
Left, some of a group of animal sculptures bequeathed to the City in 2021; right, an artist's conception for "Milt's Market", a proposed redevelopment for the vacant lot at 85 Main Street formerly occupied by the Hong Kong and Milt's Sweet Shop

City council received a request for support and funding for a new Main Street beautification proposal, including placing statues and possible outdoor retail space on Flin Flon's main drag.

At the Nov. 15 meeting of Flin Flon city council, Dianne Russell, representing the Main Street Revitalization committee, spoke about proposed plans for several vacant lots along Flin Flon’s main drag by the committee.

A new subcommittee of the Main Street group, made up of area business leaders, Main Street business owners and community organizations like the local chapter of the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) and the Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce, has pitched to put a series of animal statues, currently in possession of the City, in vacant lots on Main Street. Other vacant areas are subject to plans like hosting a small shopping area or turning them into small parks.

According to a report sent to city council by the subcommittee, the goal for the new project is “to provide culturally relevant arts and culture exhibitions with an Indigenous emphasis to beautify Main Street and to provide a positive and inviting experience to locals and visitors while enjoying Flin Flon’s iconic Main Street businesses and heritage.”

In May 2021, the City received five animal sculptures through an estate - the identity of the donor has not been released. Since they were received, the City has not decided where the sculptures should be placed. The subcommittee has proposed to put those statues up in three areas - the vacant lot between the Service Canada and MMF building, the lot on the former site of the Orange Toad and the lot between Sharon’s Place and the former Sal’s Fitness/Nasselquist Jewellers site.

Along with the statues, the group wants to increase foot traffic into the area, build lights on otherwise unlit locations and reach out to the public to get further suggestions.

“We're going to use these animals to create safe spaces to create traffic, safe traffic, happy traffic on Main Street, which is kind of the whole reason behind it - inviting people to feel comfortable on Main Street,” Russell said.

“It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from - there should be things there that people identify with, across the board.”

Another plan is set aside particularly for 85 Main Street, the lot directly south of the CIBC building. That plan is to use that space as the site of a possible seasonal market or an outdoor sitting or dining space, with possible performances from local artists. Russell said the subcommittee has even come up with possible names for such a spot, including the “Nook and Cranny”, “85 Main” or “Milt’s Market” after former businessman Milt Young, who operated Milt’s Sweet Shop at the site from 1944 into the 1970s.

In order to move ahead with the plan, the subcommittee needs to receive approval from city council to use spaces under City ownership for the project and to receive approval for start-up costs from several sources. One of those sources is from the City - the subcommittee’s estimate is that $150,000, paid out over three years, would be needed from the City, along with several grants from different sources, to pay off the project. Cost estimates given by the subcommittee are still, according to the package submitted to city council, “not solidified due to the preliminary stages of the project.”

“We want to get this going, starting by spring,” said Russell.

Start-up costs include painting and restoring the statues, installing lighting at the spaces, building firm bases for the statues to stand on and landscaping the site - total costs for landscaping alone are tentatively ballparked at around $30,000.

Further money may be needed to further decorate the areas with items like murals, benches, trees and greenery or other new touches.

Councillors did not make any decision about funding or other support for the project during the meeting or during the council's Nov. 29 meeting.

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