Without change a village begins to stagnate

 In Letters, Opinion

I’m writing to express my personal support for the project “Creemore’s Village Green”. My husband and I are investors, entrepreneurs and citizens of the town of Creemore. In 2013, we closed our business in Europe and searched for a town or village in which to invest, both personally and professionally. Our journey took us across Canada through small towns and large, looking for the perfect spot to open a business and settle. We purchased our building at 142 Mill St. in Creemore in 2014. One of the major contributing factors in choosing a village was that of progress, a sense that the village had potential to grow, to attract new visitors and support local entrepreneurs. Creemore had it – there were activities like volunteer run festivals and events, the brewery was finishing expansion, real estate was increasing and there was a general sense that Creemore was on the move. Like many others before us, we believed that a healthy downtown business area equalled a healthy local economy.
Without change a village begins to stagnate, people see businesses close or buildings up for sale and they begin to question the viability and health of the business area. Ultimately new businesses will choose to risk their precious start up capital elsewhere if change is not embraced. I see this project as progress, a new vision of community and a new partnership between the public and private sectors. Few villages like ours are fortunate enough to have folks like the Creemore Community Foundation willing to invest their money to fuel progress and sustainability.
I see this project as the latest installment in the Creemore progress continuum. The village green will bring people in the community together, encourage thoughtful, forward thinking village development. Active green spaces like the one proposed get people out of the their homes and offices and into our downtown area. Active spaces encourage visitors to linger longer in town. An engaged visitor, has more propensity to spend in the local shops and restaurants. The BIA will have alternative event space that can attract out of town visitors to our events, in all four seasons opening up new creative possibilities to market our village to day-trippers from larger cities and people vacationing in nearby areas.
This space can become the heart of the village, similar to those charming town squares we loved in Europe. Those village squares host markets, music, theatre, and holiday celebrations. The spaces in Europe are emblematic of the cultural identity of place. People gather there, post (easily shared) Instagram images and bring a richness to the community’s core.
More than anything else, this active green space contributes to the ecosystem of Creemore. A vibrant business community will benefit from activity taking place on the main street. People like to see progress and we expect more people will want to become a part of our community, either as consumers, investors, citizens or entrepreneurs.
Clearview Township has a serious decision ahead of them. There are few precedents in place for small village public / private partnerships dealing in the public realm and this example involves some innovative thinking and cooperation. There is an opportunity for the township to lead the way and show municipalities that in the face of government cuts, small places like ours can thrive if we work together. My hope is that they will make the prudent decision and support this exciting and progressive project.
Laurie Severn,

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