Info and Tourism Centre on the move to downtown

Council takes control of tourist centres and hopes to draw more visitors to core

A new location for the Princeton Information Centre is one of the cornerstones of the town’s plan for new business.

The Information Centre, currently operated on Highway 3 by the Chamber of Commerce, will move to the former municipal hall on Bridge Street sometime this spring, according to Jerome Tjerkstra, the councillor heading Princeton’s newly created economic development portfolio.

The move will “bring business into town,” Tjerkstra said last week in an interview with The Spotlight. “It will bring in shoppers to support our downtown businesses.”

Tjerkstra said he could not comment on the costs of the move, but added the former town hall will “get a facelift and adequate parking” before the transition is completed. “All the facets of this will be worked out.”

The Information Centre will become the responsibility of the municipality, while previously it was administered by the Chamber of Commerce and partially funded by a town grant.

Chamber of Commerce president Brenda Crawford told The Spotlight the move makes sense.

“ I think it’s an excellent strategy…it’s a better way to bring people into town which has always been our goal.”

Crawford said there are some unanswered questions about how the Chamber – which owns the current Information Centre building and property – will move forward. She said the group is heading into a weekend session with representatives from the provincial organization to help facilitate a new plan.

“It’s going to give the building a fresh start and the Chamber a fresh start.”

According to Tjerkstra the addition of the Information Centre is just one of the plans being developed to promote downtown business. Those plans include beautification – for example with flowers and landscaping – as well as new signage.

“We are really building on the efforts of administrations in the past,” said. “The only think I can really tell you right now are the results we want to see; attractive storefronts on the main street with attractive lighting and signage.”

Tjerkstra said town council is also moving forward with a new focus on marketing Princeton’s industrial park, in hopes of attracting employers and ultimately growing Princeton’s population. The target investor is a business paying wages of at least $60,000 a year. “That’s how much it takes to support a family.”

The business park was established in 2010 and currently there are four of 24 lots sold.

“It’s a high priority because we’ve invested so much in it and we need to diversify.”

Part of a marketing strategy for Princeton includes revamping the town’s website to add both tourism links and a community profile to interest investors. “We’re just putting the finishing touches on that,” he said.

In past the industrial park was marketed through commercial realtors, however the new plan is to cast a wider net in hopes of interesting business that is migrating towards the Interior.

“At present we are formulating a strategy to reach potential buyers.” “Everything is moving east, from Vancouver to Burnaby, New West and Langley. It keeps moving east because the prices are so high. We are competitive for business that needs easy access to the mainland but can’t afford the high costs.”

Ongoing improvements to Highway 3 are very positive for Princeton, he added. “I would say building that Number 3 corridor is critical to the long term economic development of Princeton.”

Princeton is business friendly and read to work with investors, said Tjerkstra. “There’s is a momentum building. We have a town council that’s motivated and on the same page and excited to work with each other….The message is we can-do and the town council will do everything in its scope to make it happen. We are pro growth. We are open for business and we are looking for creative individuals who can take an opportunity and make it happen here.”