News | DrumhellerMail - Page #3
Last updateTue, 23 Oct 2018 11am

New businesses benefit downtown

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The downtown landscape is changing with a number of cosmetic changes and a number of new businesses have been choosing to do business there, affirming town administration’s goal of creating a more vibrant and economically-healthy place for visitors and locals.

Traders Furniture, Fashion Sense Boutique, Vintage Kitchen and Bar, CitiZEN yoga, three cannabis shops, Greentree Dental relocating, and a new hair salon are some of the businesses who have or will be opening their doors downtown. Town development officer Julia Fielding says it is not an unusually high number for Drumheller but they’ve seen quite a turnaround downtown.

“The potential downtown is huge, we have some beautiful buildings there and it’s exciting to see people investing there,” she said. “I do feel we have a lot of people here who really see the benefit of working downtown.”

The town, as well as a number of local businesses and organizations have been working to improve downtown’s appearances, such as Century 21 sponsoring the rooftop dinosaur statues, the DinoArts Association’s recent dinosaur mural on the Napier Theatre, and the local pride association sponsoring the pride crosswalk this summer. Mayor Heather Colberg says while this town administration has had a priority of working to beautify the town, community members have been stepping up to do their part, too.

“I think the direction of this administration is that we are putting efforts into making the community an inviting place to be. It’s taking time and unfortunately you can’t change everything overnight, but it’s nice to see people are enjoying it and are happy with what they see,” Colberg said.

Candice Dow opened Fashion Sense Boutique on 3rd Avenue about three weeks ago and has already felt support from the community. She managed Merle Norman for 18 years before it closed this summer and saw the potential downtown of opening her own women’s clothing store.

“I just felt it was going to leave a hole in the town so I decided to open. I’ve seen a lot of familiar faces from the other store and some new ones. There’s been a lot of support – people are happy they can shop locally for the brands I carry and I’ve already developed a good relationship with those customers,” Dow said.

While not a new business, Vintage Tap House owner Evan Pappas is expanding his restaurant later this month with the opening of Vintage Kitchen and Bar, an all ages restaurant next door to his existing location. He tells the Mail he saw the potential of operating an all-ages establishment.

“The town has supported us for the past 27 years so we’d like to think it’s worth opening up a business here,” Pappas said. “We’ve owned this since 2000 and in 2009 when we did renovations into a pub and grill we saw we were doing good as a bar but we had a lot of people say they wish they could bring their kids in for supper.”

Calsea Freeman will be opening CitiZEN yoga downtown this fall. She spent her summers growing up in Drumheller and knew it would be a good place to both live and operate a business.

“I definitely wanted something on mainstreet with walking traffic and exposure with events happening. Downtown, I thought, is a good place to do business,” she says.

Both Mayor Colberg and development officer Fielding says the town is working on its strategic plan but the improvement and beautification of downtown will continue. Fielding says the town has been working to actively promote Drumheller as a place to live and work in. This summer they completed an investment attraction program which saw ‘secret shoppers’ evaluate businesses and have been pushing promotional material to market Drumheller to potential residents.

“We have a wonderful, small community, with low commute times. We have a lot of businesses here with a positive attitude trying to make the best of what we have and playing to our strengths. We have a lot of things to offer people to live here.”

Area schools attend first rural gay-straight alliance summit

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Students from three area schools attended what’s being touted as the first rural gay-straight alliance conference in Canada.

Morrin School, JC Charyk School in Hanna, and Delia School sent junior and senior high students to the GSA Alliance Summit in Strathmore on October 11 to talk about ways schools and administrators can support GSAs in their schools. Over 200 students attended the event with a strong showing from Prairie Land Regional School Division.

Out of 60 schools invited, 15 attended the conference at Strathmore High School.

REACH Wellness Worker Katie Suntjens says Morrin School sent 13 of their students, out of their 47 total secondary students, and she says she was surprised by the support from their division.

“It was great to see how these students can rally and support each other and create some change,” Suntjens said.

Morrin School currently does not have a GSA but hopes the conference will inspire students to create one. Delia School has an active GSA and JC Charyk is in the process of developing one.

While city schools have had GSAs for a number of years, rural schools have been slower to create clubs, but Grade 11 Morrin student Madeline Cuncannon hopes that starts to change.

“People of the LGBTQ+ community had their voice heard, Ihope it happens more and more,” she said, adding students face discrimination and isolation which is perhaps more pronounced in smaller, rural schools.

“I think so. Hopefully that changes but small schools always carry stigmas, to put it in a polite way. It could be lonely, I guess, being in a school of 140 students where no one talks about it or talks about it in a negative way,” Cuncannon said.

Standard community investors aim to attract retail store

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A group of Standard and area business operators and community boosters are working towards filling the retail void in the village after the closing of the Standard Co-op.

  The Mail reported in the March 7 edition the membership of the Standard Co-op decided to close its doors. This came after a significant drop in sales over the last 10 years. The stock was liquidated and the building put up for sale.

  Brett Gates tells the Mail the building has been purchased and they are doing upgrades in hopes of finding someone interested in running a retail store in the community.

    “We are still working on that. We haven’t got an operator yet, we have a couple of options but we haven’t signed a deal yet,  but we are sure giving it our best shot. Someone could make a darn good living there with our support,” said Gates.

He said in June a group of 29 supporters in the community  formed a numbered company in hopes of attracting a tenant.

    “We started doing some work in there, changing some refrigeration equipment and other improvements,” he said.

They are hoping for someone to open a grocery store, liquor, and lottery on one side of the property. There is another vacant bay for another business.

    “We just want to be a landlord, we don’t want to operate anything. We don’t need to make money, we just want to break even and get a store back in the town because it is just killing our town. It used to be the centre of the community and now there’s nothing,” he said.