The Village of Burns Lake (VBL) celebrated the formal grand opening of phase one downtown Burns Lake revitalization work on Oct. 2, 2013.
Village councillors, staff, work crews, and invited guests took a quick walk through the revamped downtown core.
Speaking of the completed work, VBL Mayor Luke Strimbold said, “We want the place we call home to be something we can be proud of.”
“It also defines our downtown core for business,” he added. “We’re hoping that it will retain and attract businesses.”
The Village of Burns Lake recently finalized downtown design guidelines to help ensure that future downtown business development reflects well on the dollar and community investment the downtown revitalization effort represents.
The Burns Lake design guidelines refer to all permit commercial buildings within areas mostly defined as lining the highway through town. The guideline area stretches east to Peterson Road just past Lino’s Sales and Service, and west to just past Dad’s Restaurant, and south to include properties along Francois Lake Drive in between the railway and the southbound bridge.
The guidelines exempt industrial businesses operating in light industrial (M1) zones, as well as government buildings, temporary structures, minor facade work, or any work that does not affect the outside appearance of a building.
Many of the guidelines are about making the downtown core a welcoming and safe environment for pedestrians through ample lighting, the use of awnings, canopies or covered walkways to improve the downtown experience during inclement weather.
Building facade guidelines are general, leaving room for interpretation.
The guidelines state that building facades should incorporate multiple design elements to maintain interest and aesthetic appeal.
Among the more specific design guidelines strictures is the recommendation that dominant paint colour should consist of warm tones and earthy hues with brilliant colours reserved for accents.
The Burns Lake Cancer Society and Lakes District Printing have both been awarded grant money towards building improvements through the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) Business Facade Improvement program launched this spring.
The program awards up to $5000 in matching funds to a business for facade upgrades. Proposed upgrades are strongly encouraged to meet the design guideline criteria outlined by the village, and must involve at least $2500 worth of facade upgrades.
Phase one of the revitalization program was worth upwards of one million dollars, but cost-sharing with the province and successful grant applications reduced the village’s contribution to less than $200,000.
Phase two plans include the development of a downtown square in between the post office and Gwyn’s Green Grocer, as well as more parking.
The $1 million second phase project cannot proceed until remediation of local brownfield sites are complete. Brownfield sites are properties that suffer from soil contamination due to industrial use.
The brownfield property in question is the former Shell gas station property across from the Rexall Drug store.