Bracebridge, Ontario

Sisson: “We have just started a two-pronged transit system in town.We have a conventional transit system that runs a regular route around town that’s used for shopping, for employment, and for students. It runs a fixed route in the com- munity, six days a week.We also have a parallel mobility system available, so that if an individual has mobility issues, they’re able to request a taxi unit to arrive at their home and that unit can take them anywhere they want to go within our community. The introduction of that new transit system is an initiative that started two years ago, and it’s fully integrated now, and it is having great success in the community. “Other things that we’ve been doing: Over the last couple of years, the town has been subjected to fairly significant springtime flooding. This area of Muskoka has an extensive river system, and so, we have been systematically been redoing sever- al bridges and doing upgrades to our road system to ensure that we are mitigating against any of the damages that sometimes happen as a result of severe weather events.” BVM: Anything else that anyone would like our readers to know about Bracebridge? Smith: “I really do believe it’s one of the best places that you can live in Ontario.We’ve got a mix of amenities in this community, plus proxim- ity to larger centers, which means you can have it all from a lifestyle perspective.We’re located in the place where everybody wants to be, which spaces for new businesses to want to locate. “We do have a Community Improvement Plan, which provides some municipal incentives for doing upgrades to the older building stock, par- ticularly downtown. They can access some grants and interest-free loans for façade improvements, for building improvements, for property improve- ments, and for residential rehabilitation. If they have a mixed-use building and they want to put some residential units above the commercial space on the main floor, we will assist with some funding to do that.We have signage grants that not only can be accessed by the property own- er, but also by the tenants that are establishing these new businesses. “So that’s been a very positive program for the last three years.We’ve been maxing out our contribution to the program, which is around $100,000, and we’re seeing that money being lev- eraged to close to $750,000 to a million dollars worth of new investment in the downtown. And we’re seeing a positive transition in our down- town. Our commercial vacancy rate, which used to be in mid-double digits, is now in the single digits.We’re also seeing a stable retail climate, there. Stores have been here for two or three years, now; they are successful and continue to be successful and it’s something we like to see in our community.” BVM: John, what’s on your plate as Chief Admin- istrative Officer? BRACEBRIDGE, ONTARIO