A Plan for Old Town Kemptville
The Old Town Kemptville Business Improvement Area held a special two-hour consultation session in a boardroom at the North Grenville Municipal Centre on Wednesday June 19th at 9:30am. The purpose of the session was to get input on the Old Town Kemptville BIA Business, Marketing and Programming Plan from those who were invited to attend. Eric McSweeney of McSweeney and Associates was the facilitator for the event. McSweeney and Associates was the principal consultant chosen by the BIA to create the plan. They have done a number of local projects including the plan for the Kemptville Centre for Rural Advancement for the municipality of North Grenville.
There were many ideas and wishes discussed by the participants. Part of the session was to discuss issues and ideas from the past that still seem to re-surface when it comes to discussions about the success and the future of Old Town Kemptville. For example, parking in Old Town Kemptville was brought forward as a concern on the part of local residents and business owners that the amount of parking downtown is inadequate. There is also concern that the location of parking, aside from Prescott Street, is still not convenient for people. A lack of proper signage directing people to secondary parking areas like Riverside Park was also mentioned.
Discussion also took place on how to make effective use the South Branch of the Rideau River (Kemptville Creek) as a way of driving traffic to Old Town Kemptville. Top of mind was the proposed Waterfront Trail that the municipality plans to get started on this year. The trail would start at County Road 43 and mostly run along the edge of the South Branch and end beside the water behind Salamanders restaurant. This trail would help to direct both foot and bicycle traffic down to Clothier and Prescott Streets. There was also discussion about attempting to increase canoe and kayak traffic, as well as beautifying the shoreline to make it more scenic and enticing. This will require discussions with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority who oversees the water and the shoreline.
One of the most interesting topics discussed was that of which type of businesses would be most beneficial to attract people to Old Town Kemptville. Rob Thompson made a point of saying that more restaurants are needed on Prescott Street. Rob said that since Clothier Street already has three options for restaurants, it would be wise to try and develop some on Prescott Street as well, in order to bring more people to that area. Without detracting from the restaurants already operating on Prescott Street, having a couple more restaurants might also help other businesses in Old Town Kemptville who could benefit from the walk-in traffic. In addition, it might help to encourage businesses to extend their hours, which is a concern of people who can’t make it downtown before 5:00pm during the week. Going to the Geronimo Coffee House for a cappuccino or dropping into Old Town Treats for an ice cream cone would be logical after dinner activities.
McSweeney and Associates has a very good reputation for producing quality work. Hopefully, this plan will give the current Old Town Kemptville BIA Board of Management the ideas and information it needs to work towards the revitalization of downtown and to continue the work of those that came before them.