Brent Gallant, (left), was named the new president of Downtown Summerside Inc. at the organization’s annual general meeting, Monday night. Pierre Gallant, right, was elected as vice-president.
©Mike Carson/Journal Pioneer
SUMMERSIDE – Downtown Summerside Inc. (DSI) set out its path for the revitalization of the traditional core business area under newly elected president Brent Gallant.
The organization has been plagued with a long-standing debt.
This year, Summerside city council has provided a one-time loan grant of $25,000 to pay off the 2014 installment on the group’s debt. This will allow DSI to spend $5,000 on a strategic plan for the downtown and provide additional dollars for marketing.
Outgoing DSI vice-president Paul Power said the city’s involvement will go a long way in helping the group to get its plan of action underway.
“One of the big challenges for this organization in the past has been the lack of funding and not having the operating capital to carry on the things we wanted to do as an organization,” Power said. “We put together a pretty strong presentation and we met with Mayor (Basil) Stewart and council about our whole financial situation. DSI is carrying a loan of $115,000. We incurred this debt through two different things, one being the tall ship venture we got into a number of years ago and the other being an infrastructure project on Water Street.”
Power said DSI has been paying down the debt a rate of $25,000 per year.
“It’s really handcuffed us in what we can actually do,” he said. “We’ve basically just been treading water. It’s really frustrating as an organization because we’ve got a lot of really good people around the board table and so many opportunities to do some good things.”
Former Summerside city councilor Brent Gallant was named as the new president for DSI and he set out his priorities for the coming year.
“As president of this organization, I’d like to do three things in the coming year and that’s define, design and refine,” Gallant said. “To that end we will define some of the problems that we have. We will design solutions to those problems and we will analyze those results and look back to see what we did right and what we did wrong. We’re going to get busy.”
He said the new money from the city has allowed the group to go forward.
“I think it’s important that we look at the parking problem,” Gallant said. “We’re going to encourage people to put in rear entrances on their properties.
Gallant said there are many public parking areas available in the downtown area but most businesses are not directly accessible from them. By installing rear entrances, it will be more convenient for shoppers to access downtown business from existing parking areas.
“We will work with the city to help to allow businesses to put that second entrance in so you can drive up to your destination and walk right into the business,” he said.
Gallant aid he also wants to improve the signage so the shopping public can easily locate parking areas.
The new president wants the downtown to consider the downtown in a very serious manner for new developments.”
“Hopefully, we can focus the attention of new development coming to the City of Summerside to the downtown,” he said. “We’re going to encourage our government facilities, federal and provincial governments, that any developments they are considering, we want to be put first and fore most as the destination to come to. We need these to grow and put this Business Improvement Area (BIA) back on the map.”
Gallant wants to engage downtown property owners to be more aggressive in renting properties.
He said the BIA will help landlords in any way it can to do this.