Blyth BIA eyes RTO4 funding - March 22, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
The Blyth Business Improvement Area’s (BIA) executive is pursuing multiple funding applications to Regional Tourism Organization 4 (RTO4) to enhance Blyth.
Over $27,500 in funding has been made available to stakeholders in and around the village as a result of the DestinationBLYTH project that RTO4 ran over the past several months.
The funding is split into a destination/animation fund ($10,000) directed at creating or enhancing events and interactive activities, a hygiene fund ($10,000) aimed at beautification of the community and a storytelling fund ($7,500) focused on creating narrative experiences within the community.
The BIA is currently pursuing multiple projects, and, while not all of them can be revealed publically, others are already in the works.
Under the destination/animation category, the BIA is supporting initiatives for a Christmas-themed weekend in the village, a project around creating “selfie topiaries” in the village and the creation of a farmers’ market.
The Christmas weekend is an expansion of the existing Lighting of the Lights event the BIA has hosted for several years.
Instead of being one night, however, the event will span several days, running either Thursday to Saturday or Friday to Sunday of the first weekend of December.
While the Lighting of the Lights focused on celebrating the holiday season, this new event will be more focused on bringing visitors to Blyth’s downtown core according to BIA Chair Karen Stewart.
Events such as a parade, craft market, children’s film screening, Christmas dance and events typically associated with the Lighting of the Lights are being considered for the event, which is being organized by Blyth Festival Artistic Director Gil Garratt.
The topiary project will see backdrops for pictures. Jennifer Triemstra Johnston is taking control of the initiative which she originally pitched to the BIA.
The project will create, through fabrics and flowers, scenes that visitors can insert themselves in to create lasting memories through photographs.
The farmers’ market is in its early planning stages according to organizer Deb Sholdice who is reaching out to individuals who participated in the previous two farmers’ markets in the village.
Under the hygiene fund, the BIA has four public projects currently listed, including an outdoor patio, a water fountain and water bottle filling station with options for a pet drinking station, a gateway project designed to bring visitors from the south end of the village to the downtown core, a map project to help people get around the community and what’s being referred to as the wildflower project.
True North Homes, a business that recently purchased the building on the southwest corner of Queen and Dinsley Streets, current home of The Citizen, have expressed interest in two projects.
The first, the water fountain, will allow people to get a drink or fill up their water bottles at a location in the community.
True North Homes is also seeking funding to build a patio on the north side of their property where, currently, there is green space and concrete paving.
The gateway project, suggested by Queens Bakery co-owner Les Cook, will focus on creating a boardwalk from the intersection of County Roads 25 and 4 to the downtown core. Currently, there is no pedestrian-safe method of travel from the Blyth Cowbell Brewing Company at the south end of the village to the downtown core.
The community asset map project, which has been discussed for several months at the BIA table, looks to create a map of Blyth usable in three different locations. Stewart explained the map would be available digitally for the website, in print to be handed out and on billboards at the north and south end of the community as well as on the Goderich to Guelph Rail Trail (G2G) which runs through Blyth.
The final hygiene project is called the wildflower project and seeks to replace the grass in the ditches and road allowances from one mile out on the roads entering Blyth with wildflowers.
Stewart explained the project is designed to use native wildflowers to both beautify the entrances to the community as well as to be used in the dyes employed by the Fashion Arts and Creative Textiles (FACTS) program hosted through the Canadian Centre for Rural Creativity.
Under the storytelling intake, BIA members have identified historical plaques on buildings, window clings showing historical scenes and historical posters or plaques detailing former owners of businesses inside structures throughout the community as projects of interest.
Stewart said that a walking tour was also being considered, utilizing the funds for a researcher the BIA had earmarked within its budget.
She said that RTO4 representatives had indicated funding could be available for an additional year if the use was justified.