Plans announced for Main Street refurbishment

Main ARTery program will kick off next week

A coalition of Main Street business owners have officially announced their goal to make Main Street a prettier and more business friendly place.

Tentative plans for the Main Street Revitalization Task Force, including information regarding the ongoing Main ARTery project, have been released to the public. Kory Eastman, a member of the task force, laid out the group’s plans at the Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce meeting May 21.

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“We’re pretty excited about the response that we’re getting from the community and from people around town,” he told chamber members.

The task force will aim to improve the Main Street area, attracting new businesses and increasing foot traffic while helping boost the bottom lines of businesses already on Main Street.

“Obviously, the issues of Main Street and how we can improve that are varied. We feel that this is a group that can start looking at best practices, what’s worked in other communities, and start rolling that out,” Eastman said.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”

During the presentation, Eastman cited a similar effort in Maple Creek, Sask., a community also cited in a Travel Manitoba public meeting earlier this year. Maple Creek held a community-wide effort to redevelop their main drag, rebuilding and repairing building facades. Eastman said the efforts cost about $3 million in mostly private sector money, but ended up providing huge benefits for businesses.

Tourism visits increased by about 80,000 people per year, 20 new businesses set up shop, 50 new jobs were created and some businesses reported more than a 100 per cent increase in sales.

“When you have that much money, you do hope to see success. We’re not sitting on a pile of it right now, but certainly we have resources in our community that we can tap and look to and we’ll look to do that over the next five year period of planning,” Eastman said.

“Give people something to see and explore, make it fun and safe to spend time and they will spend money.”

Some issues identified by Eastman in his presentation included parking, panhandling and a “sense of safety”.

“I think what we want to do is take an organized approach, trying to involve as many businesses as possible down on Main Street and work in a positive fashion,” he said. “Parking, a sense of safety, panhandling – those are issues that all have to be dealt with, whether by the task force or further down the road with the actual committee.”

Main ARTery

Meanwhile, the newest attempt to spruce up Main Street will officially start with a ceremony later this next month.

The Main ARTery, a community art project consisting of a series of banners with local art exhibited on Main Street, will have an official grand opening June 19.

“We wanted to hit the ground running a little bit trying to rejuvenate Main Street, make it a little more walkable. Give it a reason for people to kind of explore the downtown Main Street,” said Eastman.

“What we came up with was the the Main ARTery project.”

The banners will be put up on light posts in the same location where the Trout Festival banners would hang during the summer months, and near tourism sites in Creighton and Denare Beach.

Along with showing off the new banners, some community events will be held alongside the grand opening, including a sidewalk chalk art area at Pioneer Square, an exhibit of children’s art and musical performances. Businesses have been encouraged to stay open later in anticipation of increased traffic, said Eastman.

The project will also extend beyond the banners. A booklet will be produced and distributed showing all the art pieces and artists who helped produce the Main ARTery. As well, art from local elementary school students will also be featured at some participating Main Street businesses.

“They’re working on art projects and there’s a free pizza party going out to the class that has the most art submitted. Those are going to be put up in the downtown stores, either in storefronts or even some of the buildings with space that may not be currently rented,” Eastman said.

A call for submissions went out earlier this spring, with artists from Flin Flon, Creighton and Denare Beach asked to send in their art for the new banners. One piece, a painting by Creighton artist Catherine Joa entitled “Hey That’s Pretty,” was shown to members of the Flin Flon and District Chamber of Commerce.

The project is expected to expand to other areas in the next few years.

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