Happy Fridays to bring ‘more fun and energy back’ to Village

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OSBORNE Village saved $50,000 by cancelling its traditional Canada Day event. So, the Business Improvement Zone is using the money to clean up the streets and finance new summer attractions in the hopes of reinvigorating the neighbourhood.

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OSBORNE Village saved $50,000 by cancelling its traditional Canada Day event. So, the Business Improvement Zone is using the money to clean up the streets and finance new summer attractions in the hopes of reinvigorating the neighbourhood.

“I’m feeling a new energy and support from businesses and community members that our efforts are moving the needle. It takes time,” said BIZ executive director Lindsay Somers.

The Village has seen a push to clean itself up, with BIZ crews washing windows, painting and clearing garbage from community spaces. The process has involved a lot of elbow grease, but it is a labour of love, Somers said.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Lindsay Somers, executive director of Osborne Village BIZ

The decision to cancel the Canada Day celebration this year was among the biggest changes under Somers’s guidance. The two-day event had been a neighbourhood staple since the 1990s.

In 2019, the party cost the BIZ roughly one-quarter of its $200,000 operating budget. While it brought tens of thousands of people to the Village and benefited the bars, it did not boost retail businesses and had waning support from residents, Somers said.

Somers thought it better to spread the Canada Day budget into multiple events that could run throughout the summer, the first of which begins July 8 with “Happy Friday” in the Village.

The pilot project will bring free live music to the bell tower on the corner of Osborne Street and Stradbrook Avenue. Local art group Cool Streets Winnipeg recently completed a mural there, creating a vibrant venue for artists to perform, Somers said.

“We’re just bringing more fun and energy back,” Somers said, adding that 20 retailers will offer special discounts on Fridays. “The statement, ‘it takes a village’ is really meaningful in Osborne Village because we need the support of our community.”

With the help of Fort-Rouge East Fort Garry Coun. Sherri Rollins, the BIZ secured a $29,700 community incentive grant to finance the creation of a neighbourhood plan from Scatliff + Miller + Murray.

The neighbourhood plan will help the BIZ gather data and resident feedback to identify investment opportunities. It will focus primarily on increasing livability and green space and work in conjunction with the pre-existing Corydon-Osborne area plan. The latter covers infrastructure growth and features two large, mixed-use developments that will include commercial space and residential living, Rollins said.

Both projects, one at 160 Osborne St. and the other near Osborne and Gertrude Avenue, have broken ground.

“I’ve been trying to rock and roll with (the) commercial mixed developments there,” Rollins said. “I want to see Osborne be the vibrant village that every younger generation adopts and adapts as its own, just as they always have.”

Osborne BIZ will meet with SMM staff next week and should finish the plan by early 2023.

Somers hopes it will breathe new life into the neighbourhood.

“When people decide to live in Osborne Village, they are buying into a lifestyle, and so we need to evolve our city planning and urban development… Now we’re having a shared vision of… celebrating Osborne Village for the live music, for the eclectic-ness, for the beauty and colour.”

tyler.searle@winnipegfreepress.com

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Updated on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 7:47 AM CDT: Fixes typo

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