CORNER BROOK — Members of the local business community gathered Thursday for a brainstorming session aimed at sprucing up the city’s downtown.
The session was spearheaded by the city’s business resource centre and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and was held at the Hutching’s Room in city hall.
Representatives from such groups as the Downtown Business Association, Navigate Entrepreneur Program, Corner Brook Museum and Archives, Corner Brook Port Corporation, and officials from the city were in attendance.
During the sessions, the benefits of beautifying downtown were discussed, with comparisons made to the work being done in communities like Charlottetown, P.E.I., and Wolfville, N.S.
Shawn St. George of the Navigate program said revitalizing downtown is essential to convincing some of the 2,700 post-secondary students in Corner Brook to make the city their home after graduation.
“If we want them to stay, we have to create the atmosphere for them,” St. George said. “The living experience in Corner Brook needs to continue to grow into the 21st century. These are the kinds of meetings that take place in any community that’s moving forward.”
He said he believes good work is already being done, so by bringing the business community together, he’s hopeful future sessions will help build on this momentum.
“We have the capability to grow the downtown linking in with the assets we have,” he said. “We need to look at where we are now and try to build on it.”
R.J. Locke, the city’s supervisor of business services, agreed with St. George that the session is the start of a plan he hopes can captivate the community.
“Hopefully as you go on, more people hear positive things about it and it catches on throughout the community,” Locke said. “We really want to spread positive messages that there are good things happening here.”
While few plans were finalized at the meeting, Locke said future sessions will focus more closely on ideas shared by the group. He said there were no expectations for the first meeting other than bringing people together who have a stake in the vitality of downtown.
“Today was just a brainstorming sessions to get people in the same room,” he said. “It turned out very positive and generated lots of ideas. We want everyone to make a group decision rather than city staff just implementing something.”