Cobourg's Vitalization project started in July 2013 and was intended to make Cobourg's Downtown more vibrant and attractive. This would mean having fewer closed stores and upgrading its appearance. There were therefore two major components: 1) Cosmetic improvements and 2) an investment in upgrading of downtown businesses.
Improvements to date and planned:
- Vehicle Way Finding Signs
- The Youth Entrepreneurship Program has had short term businesses run by youth at the Beach and Downtown although recently it has focused on the Beach area.
- Downtown Gateway & Street Parking Signs
- Henley Arcade
- Closed Circuit Security Cameras
- Victoria Square Project - creating a public space on Second Street and at the Market square.
Links are to news items with more information.
Upgrading Downtown Businesses
This requires a vision of what the downtown should look like. Since it’s a heritage district, the look is important but it also must be commercially successful. So an early goal is to develop a model of what the downtown should be like and be sure that supported new businesses sign up to that. The Town has commissioned a Heritage Master Plan as well as a Downtown Master Plan - these were completed early 2016.
To upgrade the businesses and buildings in Cobourg’s downtown, the Vitalization plan originally envisioned an arms-length agency of the Town that would promote downtown investment and growth and since the obstacle is often reluctance by banks to lend the required cash, the agency – or corporation – would help with business planning and actually provide or perhaps guarantee loans. More on this Community Improvement Venture Corporation (CIVI) here. This idea will now be shelved since most of the "help" to businesses in the form of loans or grants can be done with another lower cost and lower risk Plan - a Community Improvement Plan - which has been established and approved.
Another study that has been done but with no follow-up (so far) is a Tourism Asset Study. Only one asset was identified - the Trailer Park. The idea is to perhaps turn it into a resort or boutique hotel with a waterfront restaurant. This is a highly contentious issue. More here and here.
In the early stages of the Vitalization project, an attempt was made to keep citizens informed with newsletters but these are no longer issued. Below is a list of the newsletters issued.
Note that the newsletters have been edited to suit this format and for brevity – no essential info has been omitted although the footer, the table of contents, some graphics and “coming soon” have been omitted. Note that more recent issues have morphed the name to be "Downtown Newsletters" and not simply Vitalization. But, they now seem to have stopped.
- July 2015
- May 2015
- February 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
Status as of November 2016
Carol McCann gave an update to Council on the progress and issues related to Vitalization. Read a post on her report here.