‘Tired and needs a facelift’: Smiths Falls council denies $10,000 funding for 17-23 Beckwith St. façade

Appendix B - Architectural rendering of proposed works at 17-23 Beckwith Street North.
The owner of the Rideau Heartland Centre on Beckwith Street is seeking a $10,000 Community Improvement Plan grant to help with façade improvements. Smiths Falls council has deferred making a decision on the application until more information is shared. Photo credit: Screengrab.
Posted on: June 27, 2024

Rideau Heartland Centre houses several businesses causing signage cacophony


A revised façade improvement application from the owners of a Beckwith Street building has been sent back to staff for more clarity by Smiths Falls council during a regular meeting on Monday, June 24. 

During this committee of the whole meeting, planner Richard Grant brought forward the revised Community Improvement Plan (CIP) with a $10,000 request for 17-23 Beckwith St. N. – the Rideau Heartland Centre. This is the second time this application has been before council. 

Of the applications considered for review on May 13, council’s decision on the CIP application for this property was deferred until further information was provided. More detail was required to understand the visual impact of the proposal and how the proposed changes to the façade would improve the building’s street presence within the context of the downtown core, Grant noted in the report. 

The total façade improvement is estimated at just over $41,000. The town CIP funds would cover about one-quarter of the work, including signage, landscaping, light installation, and removal of the old canopy. 

Grant stated that the applicant proposes to create a corrugated black metal straight-angled roof frame to cover the existing slanted angled roof. The two existing signs and the three-panel window above the white fabric awning to be removed will be hidden from view. Only the existing awning and the iron fence along the planter boxes will be demolished and removed.

“The revised CIP application provides greater detail about the proposed works for council’s consideration and better articulates the applicant’s desired intent for redeveloping the subject property,” Grant noted. 

Coun. Peter McKenna said the building is “tired and needs a facelift,” as he supported the staff recommendation. 

Mayor Shawn Pankow said he has difficulty with the proposal, despite the revised application.

“I don’t see the signage as being an improvement … it’s busy and there is a variety of different fonts. Of course, you’re probably going to try to match the branding of each individual business in there … the awning looks like an improvement over the proposed signage, in my opinion. I don’t think it’s a good use of municipal tax dollars.”

Pankow said he didn’t like the bare corrugated steel. “It’s an awkward building. I don’t know what’s best, but I don’t like what I see.”

Coun. Chris McGuire, chair of the meeting, said he was “not in love with what’s being proposed, still. I think it goes back to our signage bylaw where we didn’t put some of those stronger mechanisms into it when we had the chance, and now we’re still getting weak designs that come forward … it’s not clear to me what is being proposed.”

McGuire asked for more specifics be made to the application. “It’s hard to know what the property owners are envisioning here,” he said. 

Coun. Jay Brennan said it “looks like a decent upgrade,” and that the owner was putting in $30,000 into it. He said he suspected the businesses would decide on their own particulars. He agreed with McKenna about the building being in need of some upgrades. 

Coun. Jennifer Miller said she was torn on her decision, but agreed with the mayor saying it wasn’t the most inspiring design she’s seen through the CIP efforts. “The property is in need of upgrading and I appreciate the owner’s efforts,” she said. “Perhaps there’s an opportunity to discuss signage and simplifying it – just calling it the Rideau Heritage Centre instead of naming all of the businesses. It might be less busy for your eye.”

McGuire said the purpose of the CIP is not to fix tired spaces, or help with regular maintenance. “It was to help provide revitalization into the downtown core,” he said. 

Staff will meet with the owner once again to massage the application before a final decision is made.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News