Renaissance Brandon has identified 47 properties in the Downtown HUB with potential upper floor living space.
One of the long-term goals for the downtown development corporation is to increase the downtown population by 1,800 people.
"It’s a lofty goal, but I think it’s attainable," said Renaissance Brandon board chair Shaun Cameron. "We look at bringing people to the downtown as being a business driver as well. How we look to achieve that is creating second and third floor living space opportunities."
Based on 2011 Census data, the population of the Downtown HUB boundaries is 1,549.
Cameron presented the organization’s 2012 annual report to city council Monday night, highlighting accomplishments of the past year and looking to priorities in 2013.
"This past year has been one of the most active for Renaissance Brandon since it’s inception in 2008, and seen us move from a small group working to polish some elements of the downtown to an active engaged participant," Cameron said.
Some projects Cameron highlighted in his presentation include the development of the gateway properties including the future Robins Donuts location at 10th Street and Victoria Avenue, as well as the new YMCA, which will see completion this year.
"Both projects show a commitment to rejuvenating the downtown by finding new opportunities with current established members of the Brandon community," Cameron said.
The Brandon Real Estate Board and the Brandon Inn parking lot were acquired as part of the strategic assembly of land to facilitate redevelopment of a destination venue.
The Downtown HUB secondary land use plan was adopted by city council in early 2012.
"This plan is a foundational component for aligning the future development of our downtown with the vision of the Hub, which guides land use, urban design, zoning, transportation and economic development," states Renaissance Brandon’s annual report.
One of the goals Renaissance Brandon had in 2012 was to develop a stronger social media presence. The wireless HUB was introduced, providing free Internet service in the downtown. More than 4,500 people took advantage of this feature last year.
Cameron was pleased to report that since Renaissance Brandon’s inception in 2008, the number of vacant storefronts in the downtown has been reduced by 50 per cent.
"It’s a combination of making sure that we can get out to the business community and (letting them) know those storefronts are available," Cameron said. "And knowing that our grant programs and our incentives are available for them to come downtown and make this a place where they want to start their business … or make it a place where they want to continue an established business."
After hearing concerns regarding a lack of communication between Renaissance Brandon and city council, Cameron said another goal for 2013 is to maintain better contact with councillors.
"It’s about ensuring that we have proper mechanisms in place," he said. "By maintaining contact with council, we’re out in the community more and making sure that our initiatives are getting listened to there."
Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond) said he is looking forward to more conversations with members of Renaissance Brandon, as it has been "frustrating over the years to get answers."
Renaissance Brandon’s total revenue in 2012 was $475,800, which includes $225,000 from the province and $250,000 from the city. An additional $25,000 from the province was held back until 2012 projects are finished. The total expense was just over $488,000.
Renaissance Brandon representatives will be back at city hall today for a closed-door meeting with council. It’s expected they will answer more detailed questions on the organization’s projects and priorities in advance of the next council meeting.
On Feb. 19, council will reconsider its decision to slash $50,000 from Renaissance Brandon funding. The full loss would be $100,000, as the province matches the dollars the city provides.