COVID-19 alters downtown revitalization project e

Work is now underway on the downtown revitalization project being carried out on behalf of the Town of Virden and Virden Boost Committee by HTFC Planning and Design of Winnipeg. 

A visioning workshop to present and discuss design ideas with local stakeholders was held on October 28. The consultants are now looking to have the wider community become engaged in the process within the limitations created by COVID-19. At this week’s virtual meeting, Council authorized an additional expenditure of $3,000.00 in order for a video to be produced as a means of communicating information to the public at large. Chief Administrative Officer Rhonda Stewart advised Council that even with the added cost, the project would remain within the $50,000.00 budget they had initially set.

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“The video is to accompany a public survey to explain how we got to where we are, what the process is and how people can participate,” Stewart said. “They (HTFC) are going to release the information from the first presentation through Facebook, email and on the web for so those who weren’t involved can learn more and hopefully they’ll be able to join future sessions as well.” 

Stewart said that after the initial session, HTFC discovered that an alternate plan was needed in lieu of a traditional open house format, which is not workable due to limitations on crowd sizes.  Questions and comments have been received from citizens regarding the rationale for the project, which was recommended in the Boost Report produced by the National Trust For Canada in 2017. Some have expressed that they feel excluded from the process.    

During the discussion, Coun. Travis Penner asked about the best means of getting the word out without being able to hold an in-person meeting, and whether any further work should be postponed until the restrictions are eased.  However, both Mayor Murray Wright and Deputy Mayor Tina Williams thought it was important to forge ahead as much as possible. 

“I kind of feel like we’ll lose momentum if we don’t keep going, even with the way things are now,” Williams said.  “Even if we can engage people and do some of the online things, there’s nothing that says that later we can’t have a full public meeting to explain how things have gone.  I think if we just put everything on hold (due to COVID) that could be a year and I don’t think we can wait that long. I think we’re going to have to really go out of our way to get as many people involved, and then once we can all get together we can have a discussion.”


Council authorized the payment of $1,235.00 to Teresa Makarchuk as reimbursement for damage to her property resulting from the draining of the water tower.


The Manitoba Water Services Board received permission to add the installation of tracer wire to the cost of developing the Town’s new water well and pipeline, at an estimated cost of $4.50 per lineal metre. Deputy Mayor Tina Williams advised that should the budget exceed the total $3 million cost-sharing agreement, the Town could be responsible for the entire cost of $29,790.00.


Tundra Oil & Gas Place user groups will not be invoiced for ice rental charges incurred from November 12 to December 11.  This is to account for the time when all recreation facilities were mandated to close due to the Manitoba Public Health Order designating the entire province as Code Red under the pandemic response system. The November rental charge for the canteen will also be waived.


Participation by councillors in the Manitoba Environmental Industries Association Annual Conference, which will be held virtually from November 24 through the 27, was approved, at a cost of $30 per person.  The Town of Virden is a member of the MEIA. 

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