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Through the eyes of outsiders

January 15, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Recently, representatives from F.I.C.E., or First Impression Community Exchange, came to New Tecumseth to gather information on how our community is viewed by outsiders.
Two guests, from similar sized municipalities, took their time – strolling our streets, shopping in our stores and noting layout, landscape and amenities, to compile a report that was brought back to council, and members of the local chambers and BIA’s.
In Tottenham and Beeton, notes were taken by volunteers Jill Strachan (age 19–35), a Chamber of Commerce summer employee and family business owner, and Jennifer Strong (age 19–35), a Ramara Township employee.
The pair noted that Tottenham had a “small town feel”, and had a variety of shops as well as a large residential area. They noticed that the larger stores weren’t in walking distance from the centre of town, as the “big box shops”, were placed on the outskirts (Foodland, Home Hardware).
“We thought Tottenham was very clean, and we didn’t expect it to be this big,” said Strachan.
Other points of noted interest included: street signage and way finding was done well throughout the town; sidewalks were clean and well kept; planter boxes were nicely done; and banners, promoting community events, were visible.
In the downtown, features noted included: lots of clearly defined parking; sufficient lighting; well done street scaping and wayfinding; and the heritage buildings were enjoyable.
The “secret shoppers” did note that although there is currently a good mix of shops, a few novelty stores, and stores offering essentials could be added. They also noticed the “multiples of everything” of the existing businesses, including three pet stores which they found interesting.
In terms of health and social services, the all-in-one medical centre building was a plus, but programs for seniors were missing. They also had difficulties locating the library (inside the Tottenham Mall) and said they hadn’t noticed the mall either.
However, the club board at the edge of town was up-to-date, and services listed were easy to find.
After spending more than half a day in Tottenham, final conclusions were that “nothing particularly stood out about the town”, and the community lack identity. They also said the steam train peaked interest, but there was no information to be found.
Strachan and Strong noted that heavy truck traffic was an issue, and that there didn’t seem to be a place for the town to grow in the downtown core, as many of the retail spaces were taken by service-based businesses.
They also recommended more recycling bins, and additional activities for residents occupying the new subdivisions.
In Beeton, Strachan and Strong said they definitely picked the wrong day to attend – Monday – as the majority of businesses were closed. However, after just one hour in the community, they reported that Beeton was a “small, quaint town, with a variety of shops, and a rich history.”
As with Tottenham, it was noted that the town-wide signage was well done, and the large sign at the entrance to the town was “beautiful and well kept.”
These guests also loved the ‘Bee-theme’ throughout the town, found on banners and BIA street art, and said Beeton had a “true sense of community”.
They noted a few overgrown trees, that blocked signage, and said that the town could benefit from more shops carrying essentials.
It was also noticed that there is no doctor’s office in Beeton, and that the community was lacking a theatre or a place for “vibrant nightlife”. They noted a new community centre would bring more opportunities to the town.
The lack of social service buildings, town halls, and public transit was expected in both communities, but the pair indicated that the south end of New Tecumseth would benefit from an information centre for new comers.
What did Strachan and Strong say would bring them back to Tottenham and Beeton? The shops, Beeton Honey & Garden Festival and the Muddy Water Hotel.

By Wendy Gabrek

 

         


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