We recently held our fourth online community of practice for Ontario’s downtown revitalization community. The session focused on events, promotions, and other activities communities are using to address seasonality, and to keep their downtowns a destination beyond traditional summer and winter peak seasons. Here’s a quick summary of the session:
Sue Nicholson, General Manager of the Downtown Collingwood BIA provided an overview of the current landscape in Collingwood, the resulting focus of the BIA in promoting the downtown (e.g. authenticity, arts, walkability), and the full range of initiatives used to even out resident and tourist visitation in the downtown throughout the year. Some of these initiatives include self-directed walking tours, various arts-based events from May to October, and mid-week events in the summer. Overall, Collingwood has been able to work with partners across the region, including “cooperative/competitors” like Blue Mountain, to build a vibrant calendar of events and initiatives that reduce traditional shoulder seasons outside of summer and winter in Collingwood. Click here to download the presentation.
Susan Carradine-Armstrong, Manager of the Downtown Goderich BIA focused in on a key event the community uses to promote the downtown in the winter, the ICEtacular festival. Over four years the BIA has been able to successfully build ICEtacular into a key event on the Town’s calendar and a prime opportunity for downtown businesses to see notable activity in a traditionally slow season. The event has been able to attract an estimated average of 3,000 people per year for the weekend and has resulted in average increases in sales for retail and food service providers in the downtown each year over the course of the event. Click here to download the presentation.
Participants joined the session from across Ontario (see figure), with most (47%) representing municipalities. Business improvement areas (16%), other not-for-profit organizations (13%), and government (13%) represented the balance of the audience.
The online Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice (DR COP) was developed to provide a venue for practitioners with an interest in economic development or downtown development to promote leading practices, share success stories, and build capabilities for supporting downtown revitalization across the province on a quarterly basis. Click here to view materials from each of the sessions held so far.
The objective is to see the distribution balanced further across Ontario, and the diversity of the group grow to include more participants from other organizations (e.g. not-for-profits, businesses). If you would like to join the DR COP mailing list, or have suggestions for future session topics, please contact me at 519-400-1487 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned to this blog for information on our next session.
OMAFRA facilitates and coordinates resources and tools to assist rural Ontario communities with engaging in economic development. For more information on OMAFRA’s Downtown Revitalization program, visit our website or contact the Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor in your area.