No accounting for space

Sidney approves plan to create commercial space registry

Until now, the Town of Sidney did not keep track of just how many commercial spaces were vacant in its business community.

That will change after they agreed to contribute $4,000 out of its economic development fund. They will add that cash to the same amount put up by the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society (SBIAS). The plan is to create a registry of vacant commercial space. Donna Petrie, the SBIAS’ executive director, says it will provide detailed options for businesses seeking to relocate in Sidney’s downtown area or the West Sidney industrial park. She estimated the project would begin this fall and be complete by early 2015.

Councillor Melissa Hailey asked how the registry would be found be people looking for commercial space. Petrie said it would be included in the SBIAS’ website and that of the municipality. The registry could also be linked to many other websites, Petrie continued, and kept updated regularly by the BIA office.

Coun. Mervyn Lougher-Goodey, playing devil’s advocate, said it has been reported that Sidney has around 40 empty storefronts out of an estimated 380 businesses operating in town.

“So, that’s around a 10 per cent vacancy rate,” he said, asking if the registry would be keeping track of the actual square footage of the vacant spaces.

Petrie noted that would be the case and the registry would include photos, the number of parking spaces available and more.

“I wish we had this months ago,” said Coun. Marilyn Loveless.

She said she was troubled by attacks made on Sidney that made it sound like downtown Sidney “was boarded up.”

“But we didn’t have (information like this) at our fingertips … to be able to stop the innuendo in its tracks.”

This project approval, noted Chief Administrative Officer Randy Humble, depletes the Town’s economic development fund. He added, however, that the Town expects to receive around $10,000 in street market revenue this year and that can be used by council.