First Impressions visitors comment on positive attitudes

Clifford and Harriston residents have a “very positive” attitude about their “charming” communities.

That’s the first impression picked up by visitors from the Tottenham- Beeton area who visited the two Minto centres as part of a First Impressions Community Exchange program in the fall.

The visitors were in town in September during the Harriston Minto Fall Fair, which gave them a chance to observe a major community event, as well as regular activities.

Belinda Wick-Graham, Minto’s business and economic manager, said visitors listed among the communities’ attributes the “positive attitude they experienced from people” who were “happy to be here.”

“That means they are good ambassadors for our community,” she stated.

Wick-Graham said municipal officials are already aware of, and making plans to deal with, some of the areas for improvement pointed out in the report. The report indicated directional signs could be larger and more community specific, she explained.

Visitors also commented on the number of empty stores in both communities.

Visitors stated the “town was buzzing” during their stop in Harriston during the fair. However, they suggested, the experience could have been improved by prohibiting parking along the parade route.

“Charming country stores” and “beautiful planters” were very noticeable and customer service at local businesses was described as “outstanding” and “fantastic.”

They also noted the quality and variety of merchandise in local stores was “very good.”

After a quick initial drive through, the visitors described Harriston as a “classic early Ontario rural community. Very welcoming when coming from the North.”

Of Clifford, they said the village, “looked as though it is in need of some revitalization.  Housing stock is beautiful and street improvements look nice.”

The report was presented to the community at a public meeting, attended by about 30 local residents, in November.

Next on the schedule is a public meeting to present the report of visitors from Lucknow and Ripley, who made their unannounced visit to Palmerston in October. That meeting will be held at the Norgan Theatre in Palmerston on Jan. 10 at 7pm.

Wick-Graham said the program, which is guided by the Ontario Ministry of Food Agriculture and Rural Affairs, is an inexpensive way to get input into how your community is perceived.

“It’s a good program and it doesn’t cost very much,” she said.