Q & A with the Virden Boost Committee

What is the Boost committee and why are they working on a Design Concept?

Virden Boost is a steering committee formed to implement the “Renewing Virden- Main Street Boost Report”. This report was a result of The National Trust Main Street Boost Program that engaged the community for two days generating ideas not only for the revitalization of the main commercial districts but also in economic development, tourism and community development.
The Boost Committee revisits the document regularly. One of the goals identified was “Ensuring Quality Design”. Hiring HTFC, to develop a design concept is the largest project the Boost Committee has recommended as a direct result of the Boost Report.

What is a Design Concept and why does Virden need one?

Many attributes affect the way our community looks and feels. Signs, benches, garbage cans, light posts, decorations, plantings, streetscapes all work together to give a community an atmosphere and an identity. Some communities have found a way to tell a visual story about who they are. Every decision they make works towards the community identity. A conceptual design process is the way for Virden to come up with the look and feel that tells our story and builds our identity.
We have hired a qualified team of community planners and landscape architects to walk us through this process because we have a history in Virden of doing one-off projects. As a result, we have a look that is mix-match, not unified and does not tell the story of a vibrant prairie town, rich in history and ready to take on the future.

article continues below

How can a Design Concept lead to the revitalization of Virden?

We are engaging our community to create a vision that everyone can have some stake in. The entire plan and vision are substantial, and it may take years for it all to come to fruition, but with a plan we can slowly, over time, with a unified approach achieve these goals. This will have a snowball effect.
When the Town takes the lead implementing aspects of the plan and people like it, then we hope to see businesses using the theme and design when they choose to upgrade store fronts or signage. Community organizations become involved and contribute to a project within the plan. Youth get excited to see their community “doing something”. Virden becomes reinvigorated and starts to attract business because they see a community that cares. Revitalization takes time, it is a process and any process needs a plan with a vision.

Why did Boost choose HTFC for this project?

HTFC answered our RFP with the most understanding of our project. They took the time to research our community and ask the questions that were needed to pull out the concept we have all been wondering how to develop.
They provide professional landscape architectural and planning services to communities throughout the Prairies. Regardless of scale or complexity or size they bring the same level of excellence and rigor to all their projects. Some comparable communities and projects they have worked on are:

  • Kenora Downtown Revitalization
  • RM of Ritchot Main Street Revitalization Plans
  • Souris Victoria Park Revitalization Master Plan

How does a Design Concept lead to Economic Development and growth?

Economic Development is about creating an environment where people want to live, work and most importantly, invest. A community that has an identity is marketable. We can SHOW people why they want to spend their time and money in Virden.
By focusing on quality of life and promoting the positive vision for Virden, we could attract the next new industry. When consultants look at different communities to set up businesses, they will look at communities that provide a greater quality of life for their future employees. It is all in the attitude of the community.

Is this Design Concept only for Virden’s downtown areas?

No, the plan we are working on encompasses the Commercial Highway Zone, community gateways, King Street and the entire downtown district. That being said the Town of Virden will use this concept to guide the planning of signage, street amenities and ornamental furnishings throughout the entire community. We invite everyone to have their say and any business, individual or organization that wants to implement changes would use our concept to guide their design decisions.

What deliverables can the community expect out of this project?

We will get renderings and guidelines that will show the best way to redevelop streets to meet functional, economic and aesthetic needs. Redevelopments may include gateways, wayfinding systems, sidewalks, edges, trees and decorative planters, lighting, transportation corridors, building signs and materials, public art, plazas, historical interpretation story boards etc. This is our chance to make a legacy that will impact future decision making and community projects for years to come.
This plan will help leverage grant dollars to maximize local investment into revitalization projects. Projects that tie to an overriding community plan are fundable. Imagine if we can start doubling or quadrupling our dollars by getting told “Yes” when we write a grant application!!
It is important that we also get a plan that is achievable within the constraints of Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation. We chose a company with the expertise to navigate difficult provincial regulations. HTFC knows how to design projects that actually get built.

In what ways can citizens & businesses get involved with this project?

Community Engagement sessions are ongoing. We need participation to build consensus on a community vision for revitalization. A video presentation and survey are currently being developed to ensure all those interested in participating have a clear and accessible method to provide their input. The video presentation and survey will be released through Facebook, email, and the town website. We have a new Facebook group “Virden Boost Committee” Please join the discussion.
Accommodations will be made for those that wish to participate but do not have technical means to do so at home. When it is safe to do so, we will provide community space for participation or one on one appointments.
Once we have the design concept, we encourage everyone to adopt the plan. We can harness local talent and community champions to drive the vision forward. Organize a clean-up, plant some flowers, fix up your business, paint a mural, create a historical storyboard...together we can make the vision happen.

More about the Boost Committee

  • October 24, 2017 - Town of Virden hires National Trust to conduct a “Main Street Boost” Community Consultation
  • December 2017 - Town of Virden restructures Economic Development Manager Job Description
  • February 2018 - Town of Virden hires new Economic Development Manager
  • March 2018 - National Trust releases Virden Main Street Boost Report titled “Renewing Virden - Main Street Boost Report”
  • April 2018 - Town of Virden Council adopts Virden Boost Committee Terms of Reference
  • April 18, 2018 - Virden Boost Committee host Open House to present the National Trust Report and identify four main objectives and actions within
  • May 2018 - Virden Boost Committee writes grant to provincial program Partner 4 Growth for Wayfinding Directional Signage - grant was unsuccessful
  • May 2018 - Virden Boost Committee launches Photo Contest
  • September 26, 2018 - Virden Boost Committee launches Community Expo Event
  • October 18, 2018 - Virden Boost Committee held Community Tourism Planning workshop facilitated by Manitoba Tourism Education Council
  • January 2019 - Virden Boost Committee encourages partnership between Town of Virden and RM of Wallace-Woodworth to jointly produce a Tourism Visitor Guide for the area;
  • February 13, 2019 - Virden Boost Committee hosts Community Tourism Planning Workshop facilitated by Travel Manitoba;
  • May 2019 - Virden Boost Committee writes grant to Provincial Building Sustainable Communities Program for Downtown Conceptual Design Guide - grant was unsuccessful
  • July 2019 - Virden and Area Tourism Board Terms of Reference are accepted by both councils and formation of a Tourism Board was initiated
  • September 28, 2019 - Virden Boost Committee partners with Arts Mosaic to host 2nd Community Expo alongside of Culture Days
  • October 2019 - Virden Boost Committee presents their experiences at National Trust Conference
  • October 2019 - Town of Virden in partnership with Virden Boost Committee issue Request for Proposal for Development and Concept Design for a Revitalization Plan
  • October 3, 2019 - Virden Boost hosts Manitoba 150th Information and Brainstorming Evening
  • November 19, 2019 - Virden Boost Committee submits grant application to Celebrate Manitoba 150 - grant is successful for $25,000 of funding, event is postponed in 2020 due to COVID
  • December 17, 2019 - Virden Boost Committee made their RFP recommendation to Council. Town of Virden motioned to accept the proposal from HTFC Planning & Design for the Virden Downtown & Commercial Zones Revitalization Plan Conceptual Designs and Architectural Guidelines
  • December 24, 2019 - Town of Virden signed contract with HTFC for services
  • January 17, 2020 - Virden Boost Committee have their first planning meeting with HTFC Planning & Design
  • March 5, 2020 - HTFC first scheduled visit to Virden was cancelled due to weather
  • March 16, 2020 - Virden Boost Committee puts Revitalization Project on hold due to COVID
  • October 2020 - Virden Boost Committee hosts first engagement sessions to kick off the revitalization project

Currently the Boost Committee consists of: Lance McLean, Tiffany Cameron, Grant Gardiner, Clayton Murray, Christa Milne and Liza Park. We would like to acknowledge past committee members Jeff McConnell, Paula Brazil and Merv Jebb for all their hard work and contributions.

We are looking to add more members to our committee so please contact Liza Park - EDM Town of Virden with any questions - virdenedm@mymts.net

Submitted by Tiffany Cameron - Chairperson Virden Boost Committee & Liza Park - Economic Development Manager

© Virden Empire-Advance