Residents can take survey on community improvement plan
By Chad Ingram
Minden Hills councillors got an update on the creation of a community improvement plan for Minden during an April 25 meeting.
Councillors got an overview of the draft plan process from Stephanie L. Bergman of Stantec Consulting, the firm Minden Hills has retained for the creation of the plan. The process got underway last summer, with the establishment of a community improvement plan task force that includes a number of downtown commercial property owners along with township reps. A public open house was held in August.
As Bergman explained, a community improvement plan allows council, through a bylaw, to establish a physical area wherein the township can offer financial incentives to private property owners – both residential and commercial – for physical improvements to their properties.
“Normally, municipalities through the Municipal Act are prohibited from actually contributing funds to private properties,” Bergman said, explaining that a section of the Planning Act allows councils to create a framework to do that, through the creation of community improvement plans. “It’s a tool that allows council to offer grants and loans for the purposes of physical improvements to private property.”
The idea is that the improved aesthetics of a community encourage more visitors and enhance its economic development opportunities.
“The big thing that we’ve heard . . . the downtown buildings, they just need a bit of a facelift,” Bergman said, adding there are also quite a few vacant buildings and properties throughout Minden’s downtown and neighbourhood surrounding the downtown that could benefit from new uses.
Bergman said the firm also received feedback about the lack of rental housing in Minden, and said that more gateway signage and infrastructure along Highway 35 would be beneficial to the downtown.
“We know this is a main thoroughfare to so many cottaging areas further north,” she said.
The draft community improvement plan will also draw on the Minden Village Development Master Plan, a document produced for the township by AECOM Canada in 2014.
“The Minden Village CIP will be supportive of the public realm strategy included within the Minden Village Redevelopment Master Plan,” a report from Stantec reads. That plan included suggestions for improved gateway signage along Highway 35, improved traffic flow, increased parking, improved pedestrian flow and beautification and revitalization of the downtown core.
The firm is also suggesting more cohesive streetscaping elements to make the walk “across the bridge” from the main drag toward the Minden Hills Cultural Centre more enticing.
“From the pedestrian experience, it seems like quite a far ways away to take that walk across the bridge to walk down to the library and the cultural centre, but in reality, it’s really not,” Bergman said.
An appendix part of Stantec’s report includes an inventory of historic Minden buildings – some residential, some commercial and most dating between 1900 and 1930 – as well as an assessment of the current integrity of the buildings.
The firm is suggesting that the community improvement area – the area in which property owners would be able to apply for financial incentives – include Minden’s downtown core and neighbourhoods immediately outside.
Residents are encouraged to take an online survey regarding the community improvement plan by visiting https://mindenhills.ca/