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Duncan eyes business-frontage upgrades

Sharon Jackson won’t name downtown buildings she wants spiffed during a facade make-over program under debate at city hall.

But the veteran Duncan councillor backs a program proposed by the Duncan Business Improvement Area Society.

“Anything that makes downtown  prettier and more welcoming is a no-brainer,” Jackson said.

Talks are fluid about exactly how council might match DBIA dough to upgrade core building frontages to attract shoppers and boost civic pride, she said.

“The Duncan BIA is prepared to invest $10,000 annually into this program and is hopeful the city would match that investment, further increasing the incentive,” said DBIA president Garry MacGregor.

“We strongly believe this small investment has the potential to have a very positive impact on the downtown business community.”

So does Jackson.

“It’ll go ahead for budget discussions,” she said of the matched-funding idea after last Monday’s council meeting, “but some members of council aren’t convinced that’s the way to go.

“Some want to freeze property taxes for a year.”

The facade-revamp plan will be revisited in early 2012, she said, dismissing contrived facade themes downtown.

“Our official community plan guidelines are heritage colours but we don’t want to end up looking like Whistler.

“We want a variety of building designs, not just Victoriana.”

DBIA brass gave council a proposed Facade Improvement Program Guide and application form for feedback.

That FIP includes a project review committee to probe and approve applications then inspect completed projects.

The committee could comprise one person appointed by the city and two DBIA members with no vested interest in the project.

The program can provide grants of up to half of the cost of eligible improvements, to a maximum of $1,000 per building, MacGregor explained.

Corner buildings with two street-facing facades could be eligible for up to $2,000 in grants. The minimum project value is $1,250.

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