The Smiths Falls Business Owners Association (SFBOA) took the floor at the Monday night, Feb. 12, committee of the whole meeting in Smiths Falls, with the hopes to change the conversation of the Beckwith Street redevelopment plan.
So far there has been a lot of talk about parking, but Nick Ritchie of 4 Degrees Brewing spoke on behalf of the group about all the other things that need to be taken into consideration. The resurfacing of Beckwith Street is going to put businesses in a bit of a “coma” for a few months, he explained and when the construction is over, the SFBOA wants the town to ensure that the most was taken of the opportunity.
“Do you believe that change is necessary or do you believe the downtown is incredible exactly the way it is?” he asked council. “Do we as a community want to draw people into Smiths Falls?” Do we want to enhance the current offering for current residents?
New green space, including benches or patio space; making the downtown core more friendly to bike traffic, more inviting for tourists but also more engaging for the existing residents of Smiths Falls is what the group wants to see happen with the project.
Amy Rensby, a member of the newly formed SFBOA and owner of C’est Tout Bakery, spoke about how summer tourist recently complained to a tour operator of the garbage along the waterfront and that much of the downtown was “unsightly” seem to be a general lack of community pride.
The groups position is that Beckwith Street needs to be considered more than just a thoroughfare. They acknowledge that council has a big decision a head of them, but they want to make sure that every aspect is being considered.
“Beckwith Street is the focal point of what Smiths Falls is,” said Ritchie. “Can we change that narrative and improve on it?”
Council is expected to hear back from the consulting group that has been hired to plan the revitalization project at next week’s council meeting.