It’s a nice start but…………

That was a shocker, I didn’t expect anywhere near the amount of interest and views that my last post received, especially posted slap bang in the middle of the festive season.

Let’s try this one then:

Most of you don’t know this, but I have a brother that lives in Central Germany. I try to visit him once a year. A few years ago I was visiting during the festive season. One of the many things that really impresses me about Germany are their Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt). That usually occupy a good portion of most downtown areas of cities and towns throughout most of December. The one that I actually visited was in Braunschweig. Here is a link:

I normally don’t like attending things like this, so I remember at the time having to be dragged kicking and screaming to it, but once there I really enjoyed it. In case you didn’t follow my link above here is part of the description:

“Sparkling lights, festive music, Christmas greenery and the great variety on offer attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, calling the Christmas spirit to life.
Handmade Christmas tree decorations, pottery and glassware, candles, wooden toys and much, much more create a festive shopping experience. All kinds of winter and Christmas goodies, specialities from Braunschweig and the surrounding region also make a stroll through the Christmas market a culinary delight.”

“What does any of the above have to do with Collingwood Nobody?” I hear you ask. Well maybe quite a lot. We could do something on a smaller scale in our town very easily.

I went for a stroll downtown Sunday and stopped by our Christmas/winter attraction in the parking lot in front of the Admirals Post. I was mildly amused by the ice carving show. But it was something that held my interest for around 20 minutes. With the complete lack of snow this year I noticed our downtown was buzzing with out of town visitors milling around looking for something to do. Many had obviously got bored with what was on offer up at Blue Mountain Village and were looking for something to amuse them in our downtown.

My daughter actually said to me while we were standing around waiting for ice sculpting to start: “Imagine if our town put as much effort into a Christmas fair/market as they do with the Elvis Festival each year, we could have something that is quite spectacular”. She has been to Germany with me and knows about Christmas markets.

So I gave that idea some thought and came up with the following:

We completely close the parking lot in front of Tesoro’s and The Admirals Post to parking from 15th December until New Year’s Day. We also close 2nd Street to traffic from Pine St to Hurontario St. Offer free parking downtown for this period of time. This area gets decorated with Christmas lights, Christmas trees, decorations etc. Vendors are allowed and encouraged to set up different types of stalls selling Christmas orientated crafts, foods, treats etc. To get around Ontario’s nanny state, prohibition era, booze laws, which are pretty much non-existent in Germany, and booze is somewhat part of the Christmas Market experience. The town could either rent the existing patios from the owners of Tesoro’s and the Admirals Post. Or better still have those two establishments set up heated outdoor patios selling, hot mulled wine, gluhwein, hot chocolate (with or without booze), coffee with Baileys. Soups, Chilli, Stews, food with a Christmas/Winter flair. We have an events plaza with groups singing Christmas carols. Get the kids from the music programs at CCI to perform Christmas music. By all means have your ice sculpture thing but have that as part of a full package of entertainment.
Set specific opening hours for this market say from noon until 9pm at night.

The above is what real economic development looks like. If successful this could also be expanded to encompass the area around the town hall and even the parking lot next to the arena. We could also eventually close the Hurontario Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Its time to start thinking outside the Elvis Festival Box and put some of the organizational skills learned from that festival, to good use, in other ways to promote this town.


8 thoughts on “It’s a nice start but…………

  1. Hey VFAN go take a look out the window. Maybe you will see some flying pigs. If you do your ideas might one day happen. I like the concept but downtown BIA will never agree to it. Cutting too much of their grass.

  2. Three years ago about 80 planners who gathered to listen to Dan Burden a urban planner from Oregon brought here by no-longer-in-the planning-department, Robert Voigt, were given an exercise : we split into about six workshops had a aerial photo of downtown C’wood and said go to it.
    Alost unanimously all decided: block Hurontario at 2nd and third create a pedestrian mall demolish TD CIBC and the former Bingo hall and create a plaza — a l europe. Turn Pine and St Marie into counter one way streets.Put a proper bus terminal at the mall’s perimeter and add a banking tower for the displaced banks; and use the plaza for events like you suggested.
    Unfortunately the politicians who attended in the morning elected to skip the workshop.
    By the way, most people there Dec 26 were using the parking spots because they were going to the arena and the spots were free.

  3. I haven’t been downtown in months other than to take my daughter to her piano lesson at the Tremont. I find it boring and the new decorations do nothing for me at all. I hardly see people I know anymore because they are either at Blue or shopping in Barrie 😦 We do however, attend the Old fashioned Christmas in Thornbury (even without snow) love the hayrides and the FREE apple cider and the SPIRIT of community. I have a sister and niece who live in the small town of Arthur, Ontario and they have all sorts of things to do.
    I forgot to mention, I did see a few friends in Thornbury and we all went and had hot chocolate together and caught up on conversation and gossip, it just doesn’t seem to happen here anymore 😦

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