Wolfville Facade

There was a report in the Advertiser a few days ago on the Facade Project in Wolfville, a project which started some time ago.   Just a few comments.

In the report are some high profile comments about and from a previous councillor:

Last week there were some surprised faces when the old aluminum siding came off the former Hatt and Kul store [RIP] and the original wood siding was revealed underneath.

Owner John MacKay thought about leaving the siding intact, but the “original siding is missing is areas and in poor condition. The new siding and wooden trim will look very nice. We are going to spend some extra time on the details.”

MacKay is also investing in an interior retrofit of the storefront that was built as a grocery store.

Not sure that the siding work was part of the facade project but who cares … lots of coverage from single W.

The projects are being funded by the various owners, the Wolfville Business Development Corporation (WBDC), ACOA, the province and the town.

In the barely, almost as a footnotealso mentioned category:

The first business off the mark was Merrill Hennessey Real Estate. The firm has been renovating the former Kipawo Arts Centre, which was once a Stedman’s store.

In the hopeful “head in the sand” category are these comments:

Wolfville Business Development Corporation president Peter Herbin says there is a lot going on in downtown Wolfville.

We had 23-24 applications and ran out of funds,” …

The upgrade of the Kings Centre parking lot is another element in the works. “We are excited because the town will look better and that will bring new life as old signage is replaced and new facades freshen up the downtown.” [underlining ours]

Wouldn’t that be wonderful if it were true.

The projects are being funded by the various owners, the Wolfville Business Development Corporation (WBDC), ACOA, the province and the town. …

Herbin says the WBDC is hoping to apply for a second phase of funding to continue the wholesale transformation of exteriors.

Your tax dollars at work. But does anyone ever follow up to find out whether we get value for our money? Will this botox treatment, cosmetic surgery, MJ like transformation work? That is the question which no one is asking [well, we are] and certainly no one in the Town dares to answer.

Herbin, who is the fourth generation in his family business, acknowledges it can be a struggle to keep the retail sector going in Wolfville given the proximity of big box stores. “There can be a stress on the (business) community, but I don’t think New Minas hurts us anymore.”

Really? Honestly? We wish we had his naivete optimism. Strange he doesn’t mention taxes as a stress on the business community. Does he know what he pays in taxes? Does he think about why?

Herbin said, “it is hard to start new businesses today. I think we do well with some niche markets like the new Mahone Bay Shoe Store and the Atlantic Lighting store.

Does he mean niche markets like Hatt and Kull? Like Saucy Strides? The Weave Shed? Cultures?  Gallery Athena?  Take 30?  Does he remember those niche stores who have  died a sad death? And what about those ” niche marketers” who barely survive, hanging on by their finger nails,  like Reta’s, Casa Bella and Treasures? Unlike Mr. Herbin we have dozens in our memory who have fallen by the “niche market” wayside.

He likes to stress “any consumer who wants to support local, I always encourage people to use the downtown.”

We are sure his definition of local is quite particular . Amber from Annapolis?  Bone China from Gypsum Mines?  Jewellry from Rawden Gold Mines?  When the definition of local is so flexible that everyone can come under the umbrella – well why not? What is local? Is Save Easy? [run by Loblaws in Toronto and only managed locally?]

Herbin says there is a good deal of support in the business community for the upcoming Valley Summer Theatre, which opens July 29. “We were keen to have a summer theatre attraction. If we can help it get going, it’s a worthwhile risk because the theatre helps restaurants and accommodations. There is a spin-off for the rest of town, just as there is with the ice wine festival.”

There’s a plug. Watch for a request for funding soon.

Herbin says the WBDC is feeling revitalized these days due to the hard work of volunteers like Jim Laceby. Sharing staff with the town has also been working well, he adds.

We are happy that the WBDC feels revitalized. We certainly hope it feels its oats and starts throwing its weight around. It is time and we are happy it is getting some attention. But the WBDC should be careful perhaps about throwing its lot in with people who, we think, have an anti-business philosophy. We are not saying that business should be the only interest to consider but it should be one of the voices in the mix, and respected, given its importance to the SUSTAINABILITY of the town.

Later : RELATED?

...it’s devastating not to have a local paper to document what happens next.

“We try to promote the city, and we try to communicate with the residents here and let them know what our strategies are,” he said. “It’s really very difficult to promote a city without newspaper involvement.”

…one of the oldest retail establishments in the city, worries what the loss of the newspaper will mean for public trust of city officials.

“We rely on the paper and on public-access TV for the transparency we try to promote, so the public is less suspicious of us,” he said. “(The Eagle Times was) a very valuable tool and a serious loss.”

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8 responses to “Wolfville Facade

  1. On a rare occasion I have had to frequent the Herbin store for a watch battery- on a regular basis there is nothing else in the store that I need to purchase. Please get your head out of the sand Mr. Herbin. WHO is coming to town to revitalize the dead zone?

  2. Sounds like a lot of desperate hooie to me. The only businesses who will open are going to be services, and they won’t last long; rents, taxes are too high.

  3. As I recall the WBDC has been funded by a $110k grant from the Town of Wolfville… So, are the projects being funded by WBDC and the Town — or is it the Town and the Town?

    Oh that’s right, the Town really doesn’t fund anything — it’s the taxpayer that carries the can! Time to cut out the middle man…

  4. Actually the WBDC budget is funded by a special extra tax on businesses which is collected by the town. The money is then given back to the WBDC – minus a not insubstantial fee! The WBDC seems to act as a tool of the town.You should have heard the presentation about the WBDC budget a few years ago. You would have thought that it was the Town funding it fully, having a say in how it spent its money! We think the Town likes this impression. It seems to us that yes, the WBDC would be better off by cutting out the Town as a middle man. Perhaps then it would act more independently.
    And you are right, in the end it is the taxpayer who pays one way or the other.

  5. My question is how was John MacKay fortunate enoughg to get chosen out of 23-24 applications. Coincidence you say, I don’t think so. As per usual he has the inside scoop and gets all the breaks.
    If the rest of us want to fix up our buildings we have to budget our hard earned dollars and pay for it ourselves. Just sickening. But I have come the point where I don’t expect any different. When there is a freebie in the offing John is hovering ready to take the pounce.

  6. We are getting feedback that each business and ACOA shared the cost of the facade renovations 50/50. The WBDC and the Town had no financial input to this project, altho’ the applications were put through the WBDC. Are we hearing right?
    The jakusi, swimming pools, flower pots Town Centre project is another matter. The Town would like to take credit for both it seems. Wendy did not challenge this impression in her report.

  7. john mackay bought the building after it had been picked the original owner had subited the plans to town.
    .”Coincidence you say, I don’t think so. As per usual he has the inside scoop and gets all the breaks”…..sour grapes?