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Downtown Carleton Place Needs a Vision

As a local business owner, co-chair of the BIA, Chamber of Commerce Member and Carleton Place resident, I can’t help but weigh-in on the issue of our downtown core which has come back into the spotlight after the closing of two long time businesses, Ballygiblins and Read’s Bookstore.

Contrary to many Facebook discussions and personal opinions, the state and future of downtown Carleton Place has been an ongoing issue for many of the involved players, including, but not limited to the BIA, The Town and the Chamber of Commerce. I have had plenty of discussions around board tables, over coffee, standing on the street and into the wee hours of the morning about how to improve the current situation of downtown Carleton Place. The fact is, there is no easy fix, the revitalization of any area is a multi-layered task with many stakeholders, all of which must be actively involved. In order to even start this process, we need to stop the blame game. A struggling downtown is not the fault of the council, business owners, business organizations, customers, residents, landlords, box-stores or anybody else, although all of these groups need to be part of the solution.

In order to get all of these groups working together, we need to start with a plan. In order to create a plan, we need a vision. What do we want downtown Carleton Place to be, to provide? Once that is decided we need to get all parties on board working towards a common goal.

Many other areas and municipalities that have done this successfully had to make controversial and hard decisions at a council level. We too will face such tasks and need a council willing to make an investment for the future at the cost of changing the ways of the past. Such changes may included new legislation regarding business types, a reduction or elimination of tax breaks to vacant spaces, revisiting the need to charge businesses an extra water fee, the banning of visual garbage dumpsters, an investment in by-law enforcement, and an overall commitment to a strong downtown vision. At the beginning of this process, an energetic, competent and strong economic development team with Town staff support, able to work independently of personal agendas, will be required.

We will need landlords and property mangers also willing to make an investment in this vision. Landlords that are willing to work towards creating and maintaining a vibrant and beautiful area with well maintained structures, snow/weed cleared paths, alleys and parking lots, all of which are free of garbage, derelict vehicles and overflowing cigarette butt cans. We need landlords willing to work with business owners, council and others to actively attract and retain high calibre tenants and businesses.

Whatever vision we decide on, the businesses involved must serve the population of Carleton Place and the surrounding area. For some businesses, this may require an extension or change in operating hours. Gone are the days of 9-5 shopping. It just doesn’t work in our current society. We need businesses that are able to serve the commuting population, either later into the evening and/or on Sundays or even on-line. Businesses must create their niche, supply a quality product and above all, make customer service a priory. Business owners must be involved in the process, knowledgeable of services, programs and events in the area. They must create a community among each other that is able to collectively promote the area and each other.townhall1

Foodie Friday: Southwestern Salad in a Jar

Foodie Friday

If you find yourself running out the door in the morning without grabbing anything for lunch, today’s recipe is perfect for you. Not only is it healthy and filling, but you can prep multiple portions at once and it can be customized to your liking. Here’s one of many possible salad in a jar recipes for you to try! We like using BNTO lunch box adapters to separate our salad and dressing. This means our salad won’t get soggy!

Southwestern Salad in a Jar

This recipe was adapted from this MJ AND HUNGRYMAN recipe.

Ingredients

A jar with the BNTO lunchbox adapter is perfect for this salad in a jar Photo courtesy of www.cuppow.com

A jar with the BNTO lunchbox adapter is perfect for this salad in a jar. More colours are available at The Granary!
Photo courtesy of www.cuppow.com

Salad

  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 or 5 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 diced bell pepper (colour of your choice)
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup of corn, fresh or canned
  • grated cheese of your choice (optional)
  • crushed tortilla chips (optional)
  • grilled chicken or protein of your choice (optional)
  • 2 cups mixed greens

Chipotle Lime Salad Dressing 

  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • a dash of chipotle hot sauce (to taste, we like it spicy so we added a couple dashes)
  • roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Instructions

Begin by layering your ingredients into your jar. First, add the beans, followed by your tomatoes, peppers, avocado and corn. Top that off with cheese, tortilla chips and chicken if you’re adding it. Finally fill the remaining space (leaving room for your BNTO lunchbox adapter) with mixed greens. Set this aside and whisk together your salad dressing ingredients. Pour that into your BNTO lunchbox adapter and seal with the lid. Store in your fridge and grab and go whenever you need to!

Foodie Fridays: Mango, Bee Pollen Smoothie

Foodie FridayEarlier this week, we talked about the benefits of Bee Pollen. Now that you know the benefits, you can try this recipe at home! The original recipe was found on The Awesome Green, but we tweaked it a little. This smoothie is refreshing, smooth and creamy, plus it tastes great!

cc licensed flickr photo by Meal Makeover Moms

cc licensed flickr photo by Meal Makeover Moms

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen mango
  • 2 tsp of bee pollen
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 cup of vanilla almond milk (or any dairy substitute)

Instructions

Throw all of the ingredients in your blender, and blend until smooth. Drink immedietly to really benefit from this smoothie.