In March of 2021, the Downtown Bolton Revitalization plan was completed, creating a guideline for future actions and investment to improve the historic downtown area for residents, business owners and visitors.
The Plan is Based On Four Key Themes:
- Economic Vitality
Within those four themes there are 10 Action Steps proposed, some short-term, some mid-term and some long-term, to continuously improve Downtown Bolton over the coming months and years.
10 Action Steps:
- Establish a Downtown Bolton Task Force (S)
- Resource the Bolton Downtown Revitalization Plan (S)
- Ensure policies are helping Bolton’s downtown core (M)
- Design streets and parking to help Bolton’s downtown core (M)
- Experiment with placemaking pilot projects (S)
- Expedite completion of park, trail, and river improvements (L)
- Fill empty storefronts with successful businesses (M)
- Attract new businesses to downtown Bolton (L)
- Reopen the Fire Station as the ‘Humber River Centre’ (S)
- Promote Downtown Bolton as a shopper, visitor, and investment destination (L)
Legend: S = Short Term, M = Medium Term, L = Long Term
See below for an overview of all 10 action steps, or read the full plan.
1. Establish a Downtown Bolton Task Force
The Downtown Bolton Task Force was established in 2021 with the following responsibilities:
- 3-year mandate to implement the recommendations of the Revitalization Plan
- Work with Town of Caledon staff, BIA representatives, and other stakeholders to review deliverables and outcomes regularly
- Meet quarterly and report on progress to Town Council
Who is the task force comprised of?
Town of Caledon CAO or designate, 1 Area Councillor, 1 Regional Councillor, 1 BIA board member, 1 Caledon Chamber of Commerce member, 1 Heritage Caledon member, 1 community group or service club member and 1 downtown Bolton business owner.
2. Resource the Bolton Downtown Revitalization Plan
The Bolton Revitalization Plan requires time and money to implement, and all eyes are on the municipal government, expecting tangible results.
The Town of Caledon & Region of Peel will be working together to put the plan in motion at an executive level, by forming an action team with staff across departments to handle responsibilities such as permit approvals, project management, customer service and more!
3. Ensure policies are helping Bolton’s downtown core
The plan recommends that the following uses be added to the Core Commercial Zone of the Zoning By-Law in Downtown Bolton:
- Art gallery & artist studio 🎨
- Bakery 🧑🍳
- Farmers’ Market 🛍
- Grocery store 🛒
- Retail store (accessory) 👜
Some additional policy recommendations that the plan makes are to:
- Identify potential specific sites for medium and higher-density development
- Review parking and loading requirements for historic commercial properties to remove barriers
- Review existing signage by-laws with a mind to improved visibility and more effective advertising of stores and businesses
- Explore policy alternatives to public transportation between the downtown core and North/South hills
- Determine the number of residential units that can be developed in downtown Bolton
- Review processes and protocols related to having events in the core area, with a vision to support community group efforts
4. Design streets and parking to help Bolton’s downtown core
The Downtown Bolton Revitalization Plan offers the following suggestions to improve the streetscape and parking in the core:
- Make the all-day Parking Pilot permanent to encourage shopping and dining in downtown Bolton
- Identify parking spaces that are used less frequently, and include them in a plan for conversion to event space, food truck spots etc
- Implement a meticulous cleaning, sanitation and weed control schedule for all commercial streets, sidewalks, and parking lots
- Develop a public art program in downtown Bolton
- Encourage cycling into the downtown commercial core by adding amenities for cyclists
There have already been some great road safety improvements made on Queen St and Sterne St, which include new traffic lights and a new pedestrian crossing signal that will make it much easier for cars and pedestrians alike to make safer turns and crossings.
5. Experiment with placemaking pilot projects
What is a placemaking pilot project? A placemaking pilot project is a way for for local community groups and businesses to organize events, pop-ups, recreational activities and more, in order to boost awareness and pedestrian traffic through the core.
A great example of this is Ye Olde Tyme Christmas, which debuted in 2021 and was so successful that it returned in 2022 bigger and better than ever!
A new “Bolton Experiment” Micro Grant Fund was established to make it super simple and easy to get the funding to run community events in the Downtown Core! 🏘
6. Expedite completion of park, trail, and river improvements
Some of the recommendations in the plan on improving parks, trails and the river are to:
- Develop a river outlook and access program for the Humber River, including several safe access points with detailed maps and signs, including the possibility of a seasonal floating dock for safe recreational activities
- Expedite the construction of new trail connections to connect downtown Bolton to a trails such as the Bruce Trail and The Great Trail
- Design and install directional signage with river icons so visitors can find the river
- Implement addition of amenities for cyclists, rest areas, benches, public washrooms in the downtown core, improved wayfinding and trailhead signage, and public art
- Connect the core area with parks adjacent to the core area (Dick’s Dam Park, Founders Park, Bolton Mill Park, and Bolton Camp) with enhanced trail and/or cycling routes to encourage people to walk or ride into the core
7. Fill empty storefronts with successful businesses
Empty storefronts in Downtown Bolton have been a topic of conversation for a long time, but we’re happy to report that there is now a plan to change that! How will that happen?
- Organize an annual Empty Storefront Tour highlighting key properties and monitor progress toward filling the buildings with tenants
- Establish a Vacant Commercial Property Protocol to improve communications and to encourage property owners to maintain and/or lease empty storefronts
- Levy a fee to property owners who do not respond to new protocols and enforcement measures
- Reach out to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and home-based businesses to encourage potential tenants for empty buildings in the downtown core
8. Attract new businesses to downtown Bolton
We’ve had so many new, incredible businesses join the downtown core recently and we want that to continue into the future! To do that, some recommendations are to:
- Review Official Plan and Zoning By-Law to determine the level of flexibility for a craft distillery/brewery and outdoor patios
- Explore experiments for pop-up retail and other experiences in key locations across the downtown core
- Implement a pilot project for outdoor street patios in Bolton
- Review and improve planning application and building permit processes for businesses wishing to locate in the downtown core
9. Reopen the Fire Station as the ‘Humber River Centre’
Construction is underway to convert the old fire station into the Humber River Centre: a state-of-the-art multi-use community space that will be more sustainable and accessible.
The facility is scheduled to open in Fall 2023, and will offer spaces for community groups and residents, including:
- Innovation hub / maker space
- Commercial kitchen
- Meeting rooms
- Large multi-use space for events, programming and farmers’ markets.
10. Promote Downtown Bolton as a shopper, visitor, and investment destination
We want Downtown Bolton to be a destination, and to do that, we need to encourage and promote it as a place where residents and families can shop, sightsee and enjoy incredible amenities. It should also be a place where new and longstanding businesses can thrive. The Downtown Bolton Revitalization Plan offers the following suggestions:
- Develop an online and printed kit aimed at informing and expediting the business development process for start-ups and relocations into the downtown
- Create tourism packages linked to experiences in downtown Bolton, aligned with overnight accommodations in local Bolton hotels or bed and breakfasts, as well as the Millcroft Inn & Spa, glamping at Alabaster Acres, stays at Mount Alverno etc
- Develop self-guided walking tours featuring retail, restaurant and heritage features in downtown Bolton, to drive traffic to businesses and highlight the town’s history
- Upgrade the Bolton Gazebo with an information kiosk, benches, and associated landscaping (completed in summer 2022)
- Collaborate with the Royal Courtyards to create a pop-up entertainment venue and designate other public spaces within the downtown core to be used by local artists, musicians, mobile retail etc
- We will partner with other community organizations to develop, activate and promote an ongoing schedule of pop-up events in downtown Bolton featuring family events and activities, educational programs and local buskers and entertainers in public spaces
There are some big goals and strategies outlined in the 10 action steps of the Downtown Bolton Revitalization Plan, but we’re determined to transform Downtown Bolton into a walkable, family-friendly destination that the community can enjoy and feel safe in.