County allotted $130,000 in Rural Economic Development funding for downtown revitalization co-ordinator

County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson listens as Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith announces Rural Economic Development funding on behalf of the Government of Ontario. (Submitted Photo)



Provincial funding earmarked for a contracted co-ordinator who will organize downtown revitalization efforts in Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, Consecon and Rossmore was announced last week.

The County of Prince Edward will receive $130,000 in cost-sharing funding through Ontario’s Rural Economic Development (RED) program to hire a downtown revitalization co-ordinator.

Local business leaders, Councillor Phil St. Jean and County of Prince Edward Mayor Steve Ferguson attended the announcement made by Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith Wendesday adjacent to the Prince Edward Chamber of Commerce office at the Picton Armoury.

The MPP explained the co-ordinator will work closely with local business organizations in communities like Picton, Wellington, Consecon, Bloomfield, and Rossmore, as well as the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce. The work will be influenced by the municipality’s downtown action plans – a specific plan for each downtown centre, as well as an overarching municipal plan – shaped by public consultation and partially funded through a previous RED grant.

“Businesses in our towns, villages, and hamlets are vital to our economic recovery, both here in Prince Edward County and across Ontario,” said Smith. “With a dedicated downtown revitalization co-ordinator, they can benefit from that resource through efforts like streetscape beautification, shared branding and marketing, events and promotions, and enhanced planning and networking. This RED funding will deliver results year-round in our communities. ”

Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson said the municipality welcomed the partnership ahead of what is hoped as a bounce-back tourism season.

“This funding will help immensely as we seek to improve the economic, physical and social well-being of the town centres,” said Ferguson. “As we continue on the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are excited to work with Business Improvement Area organizations, the local Chamber of Commerce, and other community partners to realize the full potential of our downtown areas in the years to come.”

Toby Toth, a representative of the Greater Consecon Area Business Network, said the funding will benefit her community in the west end of the County.

“Over the last couple of decades, folks in and around Consecon have been very engaged with downtown development and revitalization discussions with big hopes for great things. Government support for this dedicated co-ordinator position is very exciting news,” said Toth. “Village business owners and residents alike are thrilled with the prospect of working to put good ideas into action to ensure our downtown is welcoming, safe and accessible, making it a downtown area we can be proud of – one that reflects the deep pride in place and sense of community here.”

The Government of Ontario has committed more than $15.2 million to fund more than 287 economic development projects through the RED program since 2019. The programs help diversify local economies, retain skilled workers, and create jobs in rural communities.

Our government is listening to the needs of rural Ontario, and we are committed to putting in place programs that will attract investment, create jobs and boost economic growth,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Investments through the Rural Economic Development Program are helping shape a strong future for our rural and Indigenous communities by helping create opportunities that boost economic growth and ensure that rural communities can attract the people and investments needed to flourish.