Sylvan Lake’s downtown is at a crossroads — and it’s up to the business and property owners there to choose a direction.
The Town of Sylvan Lake and Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce have been supporting the development of a revitalization strategy for the downtown. They hired Calgary consulting firm Canadian Ventures Inc. to conduct a survey and organize a local meeting on the issue, and have participated in the process.
But now, said Sylvan Lake economic development officer Matthew Cornall and Chamber executive director Catherine Bais, members of the business community must take hold of the steering wheel.
“The chamber and town will always be on that bus, but we really don’t think we should be the ones driving it,” said Cornall.
“What we need now is for individuals to step forward to take the roles on. The chamber, the town — we can’t do that for them.”
Sylvan Lake’s downtown has suffered from the recent loss of several landmark businesses, including Cobbs AG Foods, True Value Hardware and Smuggler’s Inn. And new commercial areas have popped up on the town’s east side.
Cornall said about 15 people attended last week’s meeting, including Mayor Susan Samson and several town councillors.
It was agreed that the downtown businesses and property owners can accomplish more as a group.
“I think the first step will be to come together as kind of a loose-form association,” said Cornall, adding that it’s easier for the town and chamber to help a group than 120 individual entities.
Canadian Ventures will now provide the group with a revitalization guide and an action plan at a follow-up meeting.