Spreading sass in downtown Minden
Sassy Digs is opening a second location in Minden, and its owner is looking for relief from a township bylaw requiring a certain number of parking spaces in order to facilitate an outdoor seating/retail area.
Shawn Smandych, who’s also the proprietor of Ommmh Beauty Boutique, made a presentation to Minden Hills councillors during their June 14 committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Smandych has leased the former EMS depot at 8 Milne St., which he explained to council will become additional retail space for the home decor of Sassy Digs, which will incorporate some food, including healthy take-out options.
“We have, hopefully, plans to work with you guys in terms of your green space concept,” Smandych said, in reference to a planned downtown revitalization project.
“The property has been vacant for three years,” Smandych continued. “Three years is a long time for a property to sit vacant on a main street of a town that really doesn’t have that much space.”
Referring to Pharmasave and Up River Trading Co., which both now have entrances on Milne Street as well as Bobcaygeon Road, Smandych explained he wanted to continue a transformation of Milne Street to make it more usable for pedestrians.
“Our aim is really to create an aesthetic space that is retail friendly,” he said, adding this would include planted areas, and seating for both members of the public and store patrons. It would also showcase outdoor furniture and landscaping items.
“I think Minden is the black swan of the county,” Smandych said. “I think we have more potential here than people think we have.”
Smandych plans to realign existing parking spots in the parking lot so that patrons can pull in directly forward toward the building, as well as create a dedicated area for delivery trucks. He was looking for an exception to a requirement he provide additional parking spaces, which comes from a township bylaw that dictates that businesses must provide a certain number of parking stalls.
“This is really exciting,” said Councillor Jean Neville, adding it was clear a lot of work had gone into the plan. “To tell you the truth, when I first heard about that parking space issue, I wondered why that hadn’t come to council before, to have it revisited or rescinded. Because, what do you do in a small town like Minden to create more parking spaces? . . . Where are you supposed to create parking spaces? To me, that bylaw doesn’t make sense.”
With the new Minden Hills fire hall on Highway 35 now operational, the space that has housed the fire hall, as well as the the vacant municipal property beside it, will all be available for a new purpose. That will all be part of the work in the township’s downtown revitalization project.
“Certainly the economic development, the downtown revitalization and our conversations with respect to land, those things are all happening,” said Mayor Brent Devolin, adding he thought was Smandych was suggesting was consistent with that vision.
A report from staff will come back to council.