There have been a lot of positive developments in the downtown area from new patios at several businesses, to street furniture including pianos, to murals and unveiling celebrations.

FutureSSM’s most recent quarterly update was presented to City Council at Monday evening’s meeting and it included details on several projects that resulted in the developments mentioned above. These types of projects represent quality of life investments that are needed to ensure our youth, our young professionals and tradespeople see a life for themselves in our community, and it is great to see them moving forward.

The Community Art Project provides a great example. It included the GFL Memorial Gardens Mural Project, Traffic Wrap Project and Sault College Grad Show, street furniture, public pianos and the Downtown Mural Project. Since it began in January, the Community Art Project has engaged more than 300 youth; providing mentorship opportunities and helping them develop skills related to arts and culture. A quote included in FutureSSM’s report illustrates the impact these initiatives are having.

The City is committed to the downtown area, and to seeing it thrive. Simply put, if the City continues to help develop a downtown where people want to spend time through initiatives such as the Community Art Project, commercial investment will follow. We are starting to see that.

The recent progress would not be possible without the support of our community. The Downtown Mural Project is a great example. The project was led by FutureSSM and the Downtown Association and supported by several local businesses/organizations (OutSpoken Brewing, LopLops, J.Caroline’s, Fringe North International Theatre Festival and the Arts Council of Algoma), sponsors (Equipment World Sault Ste Marie, Color Your World/Cloverdale Paint, Kiwanis Club of Lakeshore, Batchewana First Nation, Village Media, Michaels Stores, Holiday Inn Express Sault Ste Marie, Days Inn & Suites and Bay Front Quality Inn and Suites) and artists (Jerry Rugg, Darren Emond, Alexander Bacon, Patrick Hunter, Rihkee Strapp and Mishiikenh Kwe).

The teamwork of these organizations, businesses and individuals resulted in a fun project that added five new murals to the downtown area. While progress is being made, it would be premature to conclude that our work is done, but it is important to recognize that by working together we are making a difference and if we keep at it we will continue to do so.