The township of Terrace Bay has re-branded itself.
After years of planning, and months of construction, the municipality's $3-million downtown revitalization project is nearly complete.
Carmelo Notarbartolo, chief administrative officer for the Corporation of the Township of Terrace Bay, said it is close to being 100 per cent ready.
Funded by the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), FedNor, the Rural Economic Development program, the Community Adjustment Fund and the Township of Terrace Bay, the project has been in the works since January, 2007, with construction starting last July.
“We can't really stress enough how great our partners have been,” said Sean Irwin, special projects co-ordinator for Terrace Bay. “(With) our government partners and our corporate partners, all around we have had excellent support.”
There are three elements involved in the project. The first is a 50-foot lighthouse.
According to Irwin, 800,000 motorists travel the highway which joins Simcoe Plaza to the downtown area. The plan was to find a way to hook them to the municipality.
When the township conducted its initial study for the downtown revitalization, it hired an architect to do the drawings.
“One of the initial conversations we had with him is we wanted to have something that Terrace Bay is known for and that people wanted to see,” said Notarbartolo. “We came up with the lighthouse idea.”
The entire municipality re-invented itself around the lighthouse, and designed a new town logo which prominently showcases the newly-constructed attraction on it.
“We want to become known for the lighthouse,” said Irwin. “So we gave it this real fresh and connected look to it.”
The second portion to the project – and the biggest – is the Simcoe Plaza area, where the majority of the businesses are located.
Streetscaping was completed, canopies were renovated and upgraded, and streetlights were changed.
“We are in the process of doing all the landscaping,” said Notarbartolo. “And a lot of stone work as well.”
Irwin said that they now feel the municipality is ready for investment, and has received significantly more interest in the properties in the area.
Out of the entire 30 businesses connected together – similar to an outdoor mall– there are three vacant properties available.
There are also five operating businesses for sale.
“We've given several tours, and responded to inquires,” said Irwin. “We noticed a lot more interest in the property.”
The final portion of the project, which costs approximately 10 per cent of the entire budget, went towards newly constructed signs spread throughout the township and the highway.
“We felt that was very important,” said Notarbartolo. “We wanted the travelling public to know ahead of time before they got into town, to start thinking about stopping in Terrace Bay.”
Overall, Irwin said the entire project was designed and built around the idea to encourage business growth and help create and save jobs in the area.
“We know that this project has been uncomfortable for some, with the months of construction,” he said. “But our businesses have been amazing.
Activities still outstanding with the project include the completion of a themed wave on the canopies, the reinstallation of business signs on the canopies, finishing painting the railings and inside of the lighthouse, landscaping through the downtown area, painting the wave on the concrete sidewalk and some stonework on column bases.