Muskoka To-DAILY

Gravenhurst gets $142,000 from province for two-year Downtown Revitalization project

GRAVENHURST — Funding for a two-year downtown revitalization plan for the town has been received from the province.

Gravenhurst Mayor Paisley Donaldson confirmed said that the Downtown Revitalization project has received the requested funding from the Ontario Government to carry out the two-year strategic action plan approved by council last fall.

The Town of Gravenhurst as the project lead will receive $141,768 from the Ministry of Rural Affairs, says a town news release.

Daniel Kerr hired as Revitalization co-ordinator: see story below

In addition to the town and province, the other financial partners are Chamber of Commerce, BIA and Muskoka Futures who will work jointly on the project.

“We are absolutely thrilled to receive this funding that will allow our Revitalization Committee to carry out the plan that it has worked so hard to craft,” said Donaldson. “With this funding secured and council’s support, the committee can now make it happen,” she added.

The Downtown Revitalization Committee spent the better part of three years to not only develop an action plan for renewal, but to begin the process of re-engaging community stakeholders through communication; collaboration; community and commitment. These four elements are the ingredients for success.

Since the start of 2014 the committee has been preparing for the implementation phase of the project. It has taken on new membership and a new co-ordinator as a paid staff person.

“The committee has been busy fine-tuning its specific actions and the funding announcement allows us to go full speed ahead,” explained Rick Dalmazzi, Downtown Revitalization Committee chair.

“This is a results-driven group that is keen to make steady progress and report our results regularly to the town council and the community at large. We have established goals and we are determined to meet them,” he went on to say.

The Downtown Revitalization Project was born out of discussions of concerned community leaders in the fall of 2010 that explored ways and means of improving the downtown that had experienced significant setbacks.

The project went through a public consultation process including visioning and design sessions. An extensive amount of data was collected, analyzed, and reported on, including the completion of a market data report.

The strategic action plan reflects the feedback received throughout the public process, as well as research on revitalization programs implemented in other municipalities. It provides a clear plan with attainable activities and evaluation measures to address the challenges identified in the research.

The plan is built on a foundation of eight (8) goals with close to forty (40) strategic actions.

The intended result is not only a visually refreshed commercial business district, but a destination where people can gather to have fun, shop, and work.

The Downtown Revitalization project has been funded through the Rural Economic Development (RED) Fund of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Rural Affairs. The same funding source was used to complete the first phase which culminated in the creation of a two-year Strategic Action Plan that Town Council approved in October of last year.

To learn more about the Downtown Revitalization Project, visit

Daniel Kerr hired as Revitalization co-ordinator

GRAVENHURST – The Gravenhurst Downtown Revitalization Committee has taken a key step in the implementation of its Strategic Action Plan with the hiring of Daniel Kerr as the Interim Downtown Revitalization coordinator to help reach the goals identified by the community.

“Mr. Kerr comes to Gravenhurst with a unique set of qualifications that make him ideally suited to co-ordinate our revitalization efforts over both the short- and long- term”, said Rick Dalmazzi, committee chair.

Kerr will take on his new role the first week of March.

Kerr brings experience as a former retail store owner, and manager with the Business Improvement Area in Orillia.

Most recently he has completed a two-year term as Downtown Revitalization Coordinator in the Township of Brock where he has a proven track record of success with the same revitalization model that Gravenhurst has employed.

“I really believe that there is a message in the job title,” said Kerr. “I am here to c o-ordinate the actions that have been identified in the Strategic Action Plan. “I’m here to help the people and organizations who care about the downtown core reach these identified goals with the resources available to us with the greatest effectiveness.”

“This is perhaps the most important part of the revitalization process – turning ideas into actions,” said Renato Romanin, Gravenhurst Director of Economic Development. “We are confident that Dan’s experience and knowledge of the revitalization process can help us employ lessons learned by other communities and successfully implement our Plan.”

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Posted by on Apr 14 2014. Filed under Headlines. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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