Township makes plans to work with chamber, BIA on downtown Arthur street enhancements

WELLINGTON NORTH – Township council has agreed to discuss potential streetscape and landscape enhancements in relation to the upcoming Arthur Connecting Link project with the local business community.

At its June 1 meeting, council approved a resolution moved by councillor Lisa Hern directing staff to  work with the engineer appointed for the Arthur Connecting Link project to consult with the Arthur Chamber of Commerce and the Arthur Business Improvement Area committee to discuss streetscape and landscape enhancements that could be undertaken at the time of the construction work on George Street and report back to the chamber, BIA and then to council.

Council also gave staff direction to obtain feedback on potential enhancements in order to determine potential costs.

A letter from Arthur Chamber of Commerce president Tom Gorecki received at the meeting indicates local business leaders feel the Connecting Link project represents an opportunity to continue with downtown revitalization efforts.

“With the recent drive of the chamber, revitalization committee and the inauguration of the BIA, Arthur has been passionately looking to progress through changes to improve the core of the town. This renovation of the streets will surely be a step towards that positive direction that we are seeking,” Gorecki states in the letter.

“Along with the BIA, we would like to present opportunities that may be available or possible during the construction. We are confident that the voice of the businesses would be beneficial in the long run, because concerns about construction and design met now would alleviate grievances later on or afterwards.”

Harness energy

“There has been so much good discussion around the revitalization committee, and I don’t think we should throw all that aside. We should be harnessing that energy and moving forward.,” said Hern. “The Connecting Link project work in Arthur, it’s kind of our one kick at the can and I think we should get it right. So I think it’s worthy of some discussion with our stakeholders,” she added.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said councillor Steve McCabe. “We have to consult our community stakeholders and this is a prime opportunity.”

“Council might want to give some consideration to establishing a budget as it relates to the enhancements for some guidance for the group,” suggested CAO Mike Givens.

“How do you see that playing out?” asked MCabe.

“Council picks a number and says ‘Enhancements shall not go beyond this,’” Givens replied. “I don’t want to over-complicate it, but I think it’s clear that we want to involve them. But I think it’s also clear that it’s not a blank cheque so some guidance, I think, always helps around a budget item like this.”

“When we did what was called the Big Dig in Mount Forest, which was before my time on council, I know there was a contribution to that program from the township, there was contributions from the BIA, which ran over a number of years in terms of repayment and other partners as well, and I don’t know whether we can use that as a model or not?” said Mayor Andy Lennox.

Councillor Dan Yake, who was on council at the time of the Mount Forest project said he felt a similar model could work for Arthur.

“Everybody needs to be aware of the costs but I think we can work with the BIA and the chamber and the municipality as a three-way partnership,” said Yake.

“That is one of the models that the BIA was potentially discussing,” noted Hern.

“We can certainly go back and look at how things proceed around the Big Dig,” agreed Givens. However, he noted, the Arthur project is “not on the same kind of scale,” and does not “present the same kind of opportunities.”

Yake cautioned against spending money on a consultant for the street enhancement project. He noted a plan prepared by a consultant for the Mount Forest project “ended up getting scaled way back.

“I think it caused a lot of animosity between the township and the BIA because they wanted everything and then it had to be scaled back,” noted Yake.

Hern stated, “there is so much talent and creativity,” among the Arthur business groups they should be able to generate ideas locally.

McCabe agreed.

“If we offer up some money to them I would not want to see it go to a consultant,” he stated.

Hern asked if discussions could be held around potential business disruptions from the project.

“They’re completely shut down right now and this is going to occur next year when they’re up and running,” she noted.

“Absolutely the process will include public consultation,” said director of operations Matt Aston.

On May 11, the province announced Wellington North will receive $1.7 million in Connecting Link funding to resurface Highway 6 through Arthur.