YARMOUTH - Yarmouth town council had glowing comments on Feb. 22 for the work of the Yarmouth Façade Society after spokesperson Gil Dares’ presentation to the committee of the whole.
To launch Phase 1 in late 2014, the town set aside $150,000 in funding to encourage businesses to apply for up to $5,000 in matching funding for improvements they carried out. In many cases, property owners spent much more on improvements than the initial match.
The majority of the façade improvements involved painting with bright colours. Some buildings received much more work, including full refurbishment of stonework, millwork, new windows, as well as awnings, and signage.
Phase 1 focused on Main Street’s downtown core. Phase 2 expanded the parameters north on Main Street to Vancouver and south to Argyle Street. The project also grew to include some side streets.
The goals of the program are to encourage high-quality storefronts which respect the architectural elements of the buildings they reside in, achieve consistent high-quality signage, conserve and restore upper-storey facades – including significant architectural details – and implement the town’s downtown urban design policies.
The façade society is asking for the program to be continued into 2018 within the Phase 2 eligible area, and for the town budget allocation of $140,000. The society also hopes for continued support and focus from the town on derelict buildings in the downtown to participate in the program.
Mayor Pam Mood says the program has “just turned things around downtown. I can’t even say how many folks have said, ‘we need to fill those empty storefronts,’ but nobody wanted to do that.
“But when your neighbours are looked after, people are more apt to purchase those properties,” she said.
She added that she’s had a half-dozen towns call her to come and speak on the program.
“The success is noticeable,” she said.
Façade Society stats
As of mid-February the program has approved 62 applications, 12 in 2017, 49 façade applications completed (24 in 2017), 13 facades to complete by late spring 2018.
$268,881 in grants approved, $894,261 value of building improvements made by the façade applicants (does not include in-house labour costs and submittable