Brockville’s ‘dark’ but ‘welcoming’ for review group

In this Aug. 16, 2015, file photo, a sign on County Road 29 welcomes drivers to Brockville, Ont. A review group from Pembroke has noted that these signs are dark and hard to read and should be a priority for the city to improve. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

BROCKVILLE – The City of the 1000 Islands should make some improvements to signs greeting people into the community.

That was among the top three “opportunities” a group from Pembroke, Ont., saw after reviewing Brockville through a First Impressions Community Exchange Program.

Downtown Brockville, the chamber of commerce and the Youth Professionals Network were part of the exchange, which was organized last year by the provincial government.

The group from Pembroke, which visited on Nov. 7, 2016, shared its report Monday afternoon during a presentation at the Brockville Aquatarium. Roughly 40 people were there for the release of the report, according to DBIA Executive Director Meg Plooy.

The Pembroke group noted a major theme of “dark and fairly small welcome signs” that were “hard to read” but were otherwise well maintained.

The city was also seen by reviewers as “welcoming”, “clean and historical”, and had strip malls and car dealerships on its outskirts, which were noted as “not attractive, but purposeful.”

Brockville also got acceptable marks for its road infrastructure, a great mix of schools, and conveniently located police station “but seemed outdated.” The reviewers also said they “did not see a large police presence in the community.”

City hall also got high marks by the review group for being helpful and knowledgeable, as well as free parking near the municipal government building.

The group also noted a very nice downtown area with a strong sense of community pride and people were helpful and there was “excellent customer service.”

As for tourism, reviewers said there was excellent service but finding the tourism office was hard.

When it comes to transportation around Brockville, bike paths were noted, but were lacking in the commercial areas and the downtown. Transit also got a so-so review that were were many bus stops around Brockville, but the group didn’t see any buses and could not find the terminal.

The waterfront, downtown, green space and parks, positive attitude and cleanliness all got high marks from the reviewers.

In addition to updating entrance and directional signage, the First Impressions group felt that hosting events in the downtown and selling it as a designation as well as engaging the youth population should round out the top three priorities for the city.

The five challenges for Brockville were a divided city between the waterfront-downtown section and the mall-industrial section, attracting youth, jobs to attract new residents, getting more investment and promoting active transportation, according to the report.

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