BIA Annual General Meeting – Feb. 20

   The Wingham BIA Annual General Meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 20 at 7:00 p.m. in the Knights Lounge of the North Huron Wescast Complex.  All BIA members and Associate members are encouraged to attend.  These meetings are not usually too long, but review accomplishments and financial statements of the previous year as well as preview goals for 2020 and approve the new budget.  Light snacks will be available and a cash bar, operated by the Knights of Columbus, will be open after the meeting. 

     Click this link to find the agenda for 2020 AGM, proposed budget and financial statements.

     The role of the BIA is to promote the Wingham business community.  While we do not promote individual businesses, we will acknowledge new businesses or special anniversaries.  The BIA also supports various community events such as the annual Santa Claus parade, the Firemen July 1st fireworks display, the Festival of Lanterns and the Musical Muskrat Festival.  Other areas, not necessarily all, the BIA is involved in either directly or indirectly are:

  • Cruickshank Park Christmas lights
  • Handrails at the Cenotaph
  • Funding a band for the Santa Claus parade
  • Curb Appeal – beautification of the business core by painting and weeding
  • Community Cash program that keeps dollars being spent in Wingham
  • The first In It To Win It contest that was held in 2019
  • Proposed LED sign at Tim Hortons corner to promote town events
  • Christmas music along Josephine Street in season
  • Christmas star lights for the streetlight posts
  • Sandwich boards for business
  • Sandwich board toppers to promote various town events
  • Streetlight banners
  • Across street banners
  • Digital Main Street initiative of 2019
  • Community Improvement Plan grant promotion
  • Flower baskets
  • Canada flags
  • Branding Wingham for music
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Year End Update

This isn’t meant to cover everything that happened in the past year, but as we end the decade a short review of some recent changes and happenings in Wingham.

                There continues to be a shortage of workers in the area.  Wescast, Britespan and down the road, Gaylea in Teeswater, have all been vocal in the difficulty in finding workers locally.  This is compounded by the fact that there’s a shortage of homes to purchase and rental properties in the area for workers who would relocate to our area.  Wescast currently has approximately a dozen workers who have migrated from Pakistan.  If you see these fellows out and about, make them feel welcome as it’s a big transition for them.  Not only are the industries having issues finding employees, but several small businesses are in the same boat. 

                On the housing side, North Huron Council is taking steps to try to get some development moving.  The Hutton Heights property south of Wingham has begun environmental studies with the intention of a housing development on the property.  Also, the A2A property at the East end of Charles Street has some new leadership in their development plans.  Although, not shortterm solutions, the long term is looking strong.  Real estate sales for established housing seem to be moving extremely quickly with homes for sale on the market for only a short time. 

                Josephine Street has seen some new business activity.  I won’t mention names here for fear of missing someone, but a successful “In It To Win It” contest was run which has resulted in a new business opening.  Two new developments at the south end of town have had the population speculating for several months now.  Regardless of the businesses that will operate out of them, they’re adding to tax base, which is never a bad thing.

                This year saw the end of the Wingham Police force, which had significant input for going to OPP, both pro and con.  The jury is still out on this one, but to date, there’s been a solid OPP police presence in town.  Another item which has the population opinion split is the future of the Howson Dam.  Years of truck traffic took a big toll on the structure and motor traffic across it was eliminated several years ago.  However, as the concrete continues to crumble there’s a debate on the viability of repairing or replacing the dam to recreate the pond area that used to see activity for boating and water skiing.  Having the dam in place not only affects Wingham, but may have effects on farmland upriver.  One more item currently getting input is the possibility of moving the Museum from the old post office on Josephine Street to the former train station.  A Committee of Council has been established to look into this as well as one to look into the dam options.

                Wingham remains a strong, vibrant town with something for everyone.  Minor sports thrive, there’s a wide variety of athletic and fitness options for people to be involved in and several volunteer groups looking for assistance.  The Wingham Community Connectors, established through the Alice Munro Library, will be hosting a volunteer fair in April of 2020 where groups can show what they’re all about and hopefully attract new members.  The Farmer’s Market continues in the summer months, along with the Musical Muskrat Festival and Silver Stick hockey tournaments annually.  The Wingham Golf and Curling Club is going strong, thanks to strong volunteer support and is hosting 3 high level bonspiels from November 2019 through to spring of 2020 which bring many people from out of the area.  Another venue bringing people to town is the renovated Town Hall Theatre.  The theatre saw a larger than expected number of events in 2019 and already has multiple bookings for 2020.

                As we head into the new year we wish you all the very best for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2020.

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Entertainment Comes to Wingham

There’s a variety of entertainment options coming to Wingham over the next few weeks. It starts at the Wingham Town Hall Theatre with Valdy performing on Nov. 15, Peter Irwin & The Memphis Rebels doing an Elvis Christmas performance on Nov. 24 and Michelle Wright performing Wed., Dec. 4. The Elvis show also has the option of attending a Christmas dinner at the Knights of Columbus Hall afterwards. Wingham Minor Hockey is also holding a fundraiser for the required half ice boards. They’re hosting a Yuk Yuk’s show on Nov. 29 at the Knights Hall. Please refer to the posters around town for ticket information, but Valdy and Michelle Wright are available online or through Annette’s Treasures Galore, Elvis at the KoC Hall or Christine’s Clothes Closet or South Bruce Flooring and Yuk Yuk’s through some WMHA personnel or the KOC Hall.

Nothing to do in a small town?? I think not!!!!

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Rental Housing Form

Due to the current shortage of housing in the Wingham area for employees wanting to move here we have developed a form for anyone who wants to list available rental space.

These spaces can be anything from a full house to Air BnB. The form we’ve created will ask for your contact information, the type of rental property and the location. The data will be made available to local employers who in turn can advise employees of availability. Any rental agreements will be between the property owner and the employee. Employers and the Wingham BIA will not be involved in these arrangements.

If you have space to rent click the “Rental Housing” menu item on the home page of our site.

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Critical Local Housing Shortage for Workers

                Huron Economic Development , Mayors of North Huron and Morris-Turnberry along with members of the Wingham BIA, Centre for Employment & Learning and Human Resources representatives from 3 of the larger local employers have been meeting to try to solve a double edged problem in the area.

                Companies are in dire need of workers and there’s a local shortage.  Chris Watson of Huron Economic Development told the meetings that the Huron, Bruce, Grey, Perth region has an unemployment rate of just over 3% (lowest in the province).  The rate considered full employment is 5%, taking into account seasonal workers and those no longer looking for employment.  The lack of workers is troubling, but there is also a lack of housing for workers willing to transfer into the area.

                Allison Letteau of Wescast in Wingham stated that the company is moving work from their Michigan facility to Wingham.  They’ll require 24 people to staff the line, with still requiring an additional 26 people for their other operating lines for a total of 50 people required.  But finding the workers is proving difficult.  The same was echoed by Jennica Fry of Britespan and Corry Mayberry-Milton of Gay Lea in Teeswater.  There are housing initiatives in Blyth, East Wawanosh and M-T, but they are, for the most part, realistically 2 years from availability.

                A short term solution being investigated is busing workers in either daily or a week at a time.  But again, the housing shortage precludes the weekly routine.  That being said, those attending the meetings have decided to try developing  a database of locations that current residents would be willing to rent out.  If you have an available house, granny flat, apartment, B&B, Air BnB or are even willing to take in a boarder, local employers would like to hear about it.  The Wingham BIA has developed an online form where people can register their property.  The information would be forwarded to employers needing accommodation for workers.  The BIA is assisting in this development, but will not be responsible for the renting as that will be between the employee and property owner. 

                It’s not only the larger employers having trouble finding workers.  Several storefronts in the area have Help Wanted signs displayed.  There’s plenty of opportunity for our region to keep growing and there’s a diverse need of employees.  If we work together we can keep the local economy booming.

For job postings at the companies listed above and contact information you can check:

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In It To Win It Contest Winner Announced

The first In It To Win It contest for Wingham wrapped up on June 13 at the Wingham Legion.  Five entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to judges who then awarded the grand prize.
The 5 ideas were a security business, e-bike sales & service, lawn/garden maintenance, a wellness cafe and a gift design business.  Each one spoke about their business idea and took questions from the panel of judges.  The judges were BIA Board member Jordan Hodgins, BIA members Sherry Giffen of Sherry’s Barber Shop and Sandra Ambing of Gemstone Essence, Murray Simpson, Chair of the North Huron Economic Development Committee and Glen Manjin of Libro.  The evening masters of ceremony were Scott Miller of Blackburn News and Denise Lockie from the NH Recreation Department.
After the pitches, refreshments were served while the judges made their decision.  The result was that Nicole Urquhart of Huron County Designs was named the winner.  Nicole has been running a business out of her Brussels home, but will now be able to open a storefront on Josephine Street in Wingham.  She gave a very detailed business plan and answered a variety of judge’s questions with strong answers.
Congratulations Nicole.  We look forward to seeing your new business open in Wingham.

Nicole Urquhart – Winner of the In It To Win It contest
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Links to OBIAA Information

We’ve added a new page to the Wingham BIA website. On it you’ll find various links to information provided by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA). This page will be updated periodically so check it out often for new or revised information.

The OBIAA can offer grant opportunities as well as articles on helping your business digitally and with the accessibility issues that will become more prevalent as our population ages.

Access the page by selecting the “OBIAA Links” opion on the top menu bar.

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Town Hall Theatre Reveal

The Town Hall Theatre and Council Chambers was the scene of the reveal of the renovations that have taken place over the past few months.  Special guests were invited to a wine and cheese gathering in the Council Chambers at 2:00 p.m.  Doors to the theatre were opened to the public at 3:00 with the reveal officially taking place at 3:30 p.m.

Theatre committee chairperson Doug Kuyvenhoven showed slides of the work that had taken place in the theatre.  He explained that he initially had a limited vision of changes, but that the group of volunteers just kept at it, and the results are phenomenal!!  Kuyvenhoven explained the details of everything that had been done and then local business owner, John Frieburger, provided a magnificent slideshow of his wildlife pictures.  Mr. Frieburger has travelled far and wide through Canada, Alaska and Montana photographing wildlife in their natural habitat.

A list of coming events for the remainder of the year was displayed, and more may be added.  We are extremely fortunate to have this facility and even more fortunate to have the volunteer spirit so alive and well in Wingham. Thank you to everyone involved in this project.

Chairperson Doug Kuyvenhoven addresses the crowd at the Theatre Reveal
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In It To Win It Contest

On Mar. 6 the In It To Win It competition was launched at the Hot Stove Lounge. Thirteen would be entrepreneurs have submitted business ideas and hope to win the $10,000 prize package consisting of a variety of business assistances. The entries will be able to attend business related training sessions to help develop their plans.

A group of judges consisting of Dwayne Evans, Amanda Piskorski, Denise Lockie, Paul Nichol, Tina Heathers, Alison Lobb, Glen Manjin, Breanne Stafford and Sherry Giffen will judge the entries with the winner being announced in June.

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