City council and members of the Renaissance Brandon board met for an "up front, fact-sharing" discussion this week.
The closed-door meeting held Tuesday night lasted nearly three hours, with both parties coming away with positive comments.
"We were able to share a bunch of information with the council that maybe they weren’t completely aware of," said Renaissance Brandon board chair Shaun Cameron. "It went really well. We got a lot of stuff out there and we were able to talk through some of the mechanisms that are in place."
One of the main themes discussed at the meeting was how to improve communication between the downtown development corporation and city council.
"It was nice to sit down with some of the board members of Renaissance Brandon and have a conversation about where things are at and how things are going," said Coun. Stephen Montague (Richmond). "Because Renaissance Brandon has been around for five years but there hasn’t been much of a review or much of a discussion to this point, so it was nice to actually sit down and get opinions and views from both sides."
Cameron said they are considering providing quarterly reports to council rather than an annual report.
"How can we better manage this and make sure the information is getting out, not only to the council but to the public as well because that’s an important step to make sure the public is aware of what we’re doing ... there’s some great opportunities happening," Cameron said.
Coun. Corey Roberts (Rosser), who is also a Renaissance Brandon board member, said they are striving to give a brief update at every city council meeting.
"We’re going to engage council with lots of information with what’s happening in downtown Brandon to make sure that it continually draws new people to see what we’re doing," Roberts said.
Renaissance Brandon’s goal is to bring renewal and energy to the downtown. The group offers incentive programs, supports downtown events and looks for opportunities to acquire property.
When dealing with property acquisition and real estate, there is some information that can’t be divulged due to the fact that private parties are involved.
The closed-door meeting came a day after Cameron presented Renaissance Brandon’s annual report, and two weeks before council reconsiders its decision to slash $50,000 from Renaissance Brandon funding in the 2013 budget. The full loss would be $100,000, as the province matches the dollars the city provides.
Since its inception in 2008, Renaissance Brandon has received $250,000 annually from the city. This year, they are looking at receiving $200,000, unless council votes to change that decision.
Montague said council needs to be kept more up-to-date, as taxpayer dollars are being spent.
"We need to improve the lines of communication between the two groups, recognizing that there are sensitive issues being discussed," he said. "But as one of the two funding partners, I think the city does need to have a bit more communication with the board."
Council will reconsider its decision to cut Renaissance Brandon’s funding at the Feb. 19 meeting.