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Carbonear business owners brainstorm ideas for downtown sector

Business owners and residents from Carbonear gathered Monday morning for a discussion on how to heritage can help improve the town.
Business owners and residents from Carbonear gathered Monday morning for a discussion on how to heritage can help improve the town. - Chris Lewis

Better signs, more Wi-fi, improved sidewalks and accessibility among the ideas

Business owners, entrepreneurs, and residents of Carbonear got together Monday morning, Nov. 5, to discuss the future of the town.

Inside the Princess Sheila NaGeira Senior’s Club building on Water Street, dozens of people of all backgrounds joined in on a discussion lead by Jerry Dick, executive director for the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Foundation, that focuses on the potential opportunities from Carbonear’s heritage and business district – Water Street.

The was intended to get the conversation rolling on not only what Carbonear has in the planned for the Water Street area and downtown revitalization project, but to gather ideas from residents and business owners on what they would like to see happen, and how they can achieve these goals.

Some of the major talking points centered on how Carbonear could be using its rich history to attract more people to a part of the town that hosts buildings and locations dating back hundreds of years.

One of the suggestions was the possible use of info boards alongside some of the street’s more historical buildings.

“One of the biggest ones for us is signage . . . not only downtown here, but signage that’s engaging right from the minute you enter Carbonear that lets you know there’s a whole lot more going on down here – something that’s going to let people know the feel of the community, and get people down here,” said Tammy Wrice, one of the many business owners along Water Street. “Tell people that they’re not only going to be able to learn about heritage, but they can come here to shop, eat and see a whole lot more.”

Accessibility was also a big concern for some. They said the area is not only in need of better sidewalks and walkways, but many buildings in the downtown sector need to be wheelchair accessible.

“I think it’s very important that business owners understand the business case for accessibility,” said meeting participant Jim Case. “Any restaurant in this day and age that does not have an accessible establishment is economically disadvantaged. Rural Newfoundland is aging – Carbonear should be a place that supports people who are aging in this community, so accessibility is very important.”

Local business leaders also expressed the need to move into the digital age by increasing the level of technology in the area. They say this would ultimately help attract a younger audience to the downtown region.

The town says it plans to do just that in its downtown revitalization project, by adding Wi-Fi hotspots along Water Street. However, that change is still a way down the road.

Phase one of the downtown revitalization project is set to begin in 2019. The first phase will includes underground infrastructure work to prepare for better sidewalks, paving and lighting.

chris.lewis@cbncompass.ca

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