Delegation to Brandon City Council

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Please find below the text from this evenings delegation to Brandon City Council regarding the 2012 Renaissance Brandon Annual Report:

Good evening your worship, councilors, staff and guests. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for being able to appear before council this evening and present a document showing the strides and accomplishments of Renaissance Brandon in 2012.

2012 was a year of tremendous growth for our organization; this type of growth would not be possible without recognizing the tireless work of our volunteer board members. Our board is an excellent example of some of the best in business and development as well as representation from the arts community and non-profit groups actively involved in the city.

Thank you to board members Randy Brown acting CEO of Westoba Credit Union, Barry Hartley Branch Manager at BMO, Michael Cox a longtime Brandon architect and one of the members behind the highly successful Music Studio. Developers Tyler Rice of Renaissance Station and Steve McMillan of VBJ Development and our members from council, her worship the Mayor as well as Rosser Ward councilor and my predecessor as Chair Mr. Corey Roberts. As well I would be remiss to not thank the ex-officio members who serve the Board by providing insight and information on an almost daily basis to our members as well as the community at large, thank you for your efforts and abilities, you are a testament to the City attracting accomplished professionals to the positions you serve.

As I mentioned this past year has been one of the most active for Renaissance Brandon since it’s inception in 2008 and seen us move from a small group working to polish some elements of the downtown to an active engaged participant. To do this we need to be on the front lines of the day-to-day operations of downtown, our organization must be proactive and prepared to act, all the while ensuring business and residents have a holistic experience that is both positive and fruitful in Brandon’s downtown.

For the HUB to find success we as a board ensure that opportunities are acted upon with the greater good in mind working to meet our pillars of growth. To turn the corner for Brandon’s most historic neighborhood it takes time, and it is our perception as well as the perception of many in the community we are turning that corner with opportunities growing and members of that community looking at Brandon’s downtown as a place where business and opportunity happen, the HUB of a great city.

In the document provided you will find an overview of the year that was for Renaissance Brandon, it included both projects that were started in 2012 such as the development of gateway properties including the Robins Donuts location at 10th and Victoria, to projects that will see completion in 2013 such as the new Dood Christal YMCA adjacent to the former Beaubier hotel location. Renaissance Brandon’s commitment to this project has been in the works since its beginning as the downtown development group facilitated the removal of the former Beaubier hotel on the lot the new building will use as part of their larger structure. Both projects show a commitment to rejuvenating the downtown by finding new opportunities with current established members of the Brandon community.

– Other projects that can claim 2012 as a success include the work of our organization undertook with members of the city to provide structures to assist in the implementation of the Secondary Land Use plan. The structures put in place within the Land use plan provide for a framework that business and residents can wrap their head around, a vision on where the organization as well as the city sees our downtown going.

– 2012 saw Renaissance Brandon work with landlords in the downtown to help develop a plan for second and third floor living spaces. Providing for a community that already is challenged with the task of finding residential opportunities for its residents. Renaissance Brandon has targeted goals and numbers to bring people downtown to live and work, with the success being the business community responding by providing opportunity for people to consume the products and services they provide.

– This year saw the Board actively work through the process of acquiring the Brandon Real Estate board property as well as the adjacent parking lot to the North of the city owned Brandon Inn with a long-term goal of providing a clean piece of property to attract future investment in the downtown. This was done in a strategic fashion to allow for the owners to move into to their new temporary business location; with the hopes when the right property comes available they will relocate to the HUB.

– In 2012 a benchmark goal of our board was developing a stronger social media presence as well as a new initiative we will be unveiling on the web in the coming weeks that will provide downtown diners with an experience unlike any other in the city. The social media aspects of the organization as well as the presence online have fostered the ability to create the true “wireless HUB” free for use Internet service in the downtown with over 4500 active users in 2012. This unique feature allows users to access free wifi Internet in the HUB on a daily basis to bring the world to their fingertips in our historic neighborhood.

– This year also saw our members respond to the community who funds the organization. By being proactive and foreword with information Renaissance Brandon has implemented the HUB at a Glance online monthly newsletter. Through this residents can access information on the HUB, the operations of Renaissance Brandon and the projects in the works at the Board table. Residents are welcome to check this out at any time at renaissancebrandon.ca .

– 2012 saw the number of vacant storefronts in the HUB decrease once again, now with 50% fewer vacant storefronts than in 2008. This is a testament to business recognizing the opportunities downtown presents for them.

– 2012 saw the Board further an agreement extended to the Brandon Folk Music and Arts Society to attract and arts and entertainment venue to the HUB. This has been a long-term goal of Renaissance Brandon since its inception and the board felt that helping the members of BFMAS find success as these projects benefits not only downtown residents but also the community as a whole. Renaissance Brandon has taken a leadership role to foster community projects such as this. By working together and providing support, we as a community can make great things happen and encourage others to put forth ideas and initiate projects. Through fostering a continued partnership with the members of the arts community we can ensure that we have a young, vibrant, entertaining downtown for generations to come.

-As well our board continues to feel the need to be good corporate citizens and realizing the potential benefit of programming has continued the seasonal concert series in the downtown. This includes the tremendously popular Wednesday’s by the fountain as well as the seasonal concert series Carolers in the park. Through our programming opportunities Renaissance Brandon has also provided assistance with the Downtown global market as well as the summer cruise nights. Each of these events attracts thousands of people downtown throughout the summer to share in the cultural aspects that make our community strong. The dollar return on these events is secondary to the ability to provide opportunities for fellowship and community in our city.

– One of the biggest implications of downtown investment was realized in 2012. Working with members of the IT department at the city of Brandon we were able to collate some numbers examining the tax implications of Downtown development with some pleasing results.

Since its inception the city has seen an increase of over 250,000 dollars towards the tax roll to both the province and the city. With the assessed value growing by 67 million since 2008. These numbers are a strong indication that investment in downtown provides a return beyond a mere need to maintain a neighborhood. The financial returns when cities commit to vibrant downtowns have been evident in communities similar to Brandon throughout the country.

– Finally as the year was drawing to a close we were able to see two new businesses open on Rosser Ave through the help of our rent abatement and redevelopment grants. Both Abby Rose and the Wildflower café took over vacated premises to provide interesting dining and shopping opportunities for Brandon residents. Our staff member Braden Pilling worked closely with both the business owners as well as the landlord to make sure this opportunity could happen. The anchor tenants in these locations are happy to be back in the downtown as they grow their business by realizing that downtown was the opportunity they were seeking.

In addition to these two projects Renaissance Brandon seen business grow downtown with the opening of the Dock on Princess, Maluga’s Memorabilia, Foxy’s Restaurant, the Mauritian Restaurant in the Knights Inn as well as growing opportunities at both the Double Decker and Chili Chutney (one of the top ranked dining experiences in the City as rated on Urban Spoon) just to name a few.

The latter of these businesses seen Downtown as an opportunity for their business case and grew as a result or realizing that need being presented made sense regardless of grants or supplementary assistance. This can be seen as a success for our organization as members of the Brandon community recognized the organic value of investing in downtown.

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Looking at 2013 we see the ability for Renaissance Brandon to build on the roadway we have taken the past number of years. Through continued established investment from both our City and Provincial partners 2013 will be a year to remember in downtown. Some of the projects we will be looking at include the redevelopment and marketing of the ninth street land assemblage and enhancing a working relationship with the city and council to find common goals and ground for this property.

We will continue to review our internal grant programs and structures as well as looking at efficiencies within our organization to see greater returns on the dollars we receive.

Strive to remain in close contact with members of the Brandon business community as well as the council members around this table. Including establishing better mechanisms to share information within the community while maintaining the arms length opportunities an organization of this nature provides.

We will continue to monitor many projects in the works including parking assessments, the Strand, and the future of the McKenzie seeds building as well as many more.

We strive to see improvements to the infrastructure in the downtown and the esthetics of traffic flow and replacement of the jersey barriers on ninth and tenth with much more appealing possibilities.

Renaissance Brandon, while seeing the bigger picture for downtown has focused its energy on areas that generate return on investment and through its diverse board skills and expertise, strategic direction and focus on developing partnerships the organization is able to make huge strides forward in the revitalization of downtown.

And finally and most importantly to look at further opportunities to bring people downtown to live and work. There is a wealth of possibilities in second and third floor development in many downtown buildings that we as Renaissance Brandon can take a lead role in providing opportunities to land owners to develop those spaces for residential consumption.

Confidence in our downtown is growing and through established opportunities and continued funding Renaissance Brandon will be at the forefront of that opportunity for years to come.

I thank you for your time this evening and welcome any questions you may have.

The full report can be read here. http://renaissancebrandon.ca/29-2

Shaun Cameron
Chair – Renaissance Brandon

Shaun Cameron is a content contributor. A veteran of print, video and television, Shaun is a professional post-secondary employee by day, a filmmaker by night. Check out more of Shaun's work in the menu bar above.

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Shaun Cameron has worked in media for close to two decades. His work has been featured in print, internet, video, radio and television publications. A proud father of two, Shaun lives in Brandon, Manitoba with his wife Karol.

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