Essex Council to hear impact of Community Improvement Plan Program since inception


Councillors in Essex will hear a final summary from administration tonight about how the Community Improvement Plan Program has delivered since its inception in Essex Centre and Harrow.

Back in 2012, the Town of Essex Community Improvement Plans (CIP) were created to stimulate private sector investment through municipal incentive-based programs. 

The CIP has a variety of grant programs for eligible property owners that invest in facade improvements, new signage, and building renovations and improvements.

Mayor Richard Meloche says businesses that were hurting and couldn't afford to do anything could at least put a fresh coat of paint on the face of their store, and a lot of people used the program to restructure or redesign the front of their buildings.

"Our downtown's are looking absolutely gorgeous at this point in time, with a lot of improvements to a lot of the stores," he continued. "Obviously some of them were already looking pretty good so they didn't need any repairs, but for the most part you see a fresh look when you're driving down both of our larger urban centres in their business areas."

The funding for CIP programs in Essex Centre and Harrow has expired and weren't apart of the 2022 Budget. 

Instead, funds from the Essex Centre and Harrow CIP programs will be redirected to the streetscape projects in both project areas. 

Meloche says they're expanding the CIP program to cover Colchester and County Road 50, with an approved budget of $50,000 in 2022 and funds set to expire in 2027.

"Still continuing on along County Road 50 where we're promoting our tourism route. We're hoping that businesses there will catch onto that, and we're going to be promoting that for the next few years as well," he said.

Meloche says they were hoping they would have the kind of success where a tremendous amount of businesses would step forward, but in the beginning they were worried that people wouldn't understand what they were trying to do.

"This was an excellent deal if you were thinking about doing any kind of refresh on the look of your business to make it more attractive, to make it more appealing for people to come into town. All these fresh looking exteriors are more appealing for more customers to walk in and say 'hey, that's a nice looking place I think I'm going to pop in there to see what they're all about'."

Essex council gets underway tonight at 6 p.m.