If you happen to be walking around downtown Brandon this summer, one thing you might have noticed were individuals wearing bright orange shirts walking in pairs through the neighbourhoods.
This summer saw the launch of the Downtown Ambassadors program, an initiative that Brandon City Council brought to the table last year. The program had representatives traverse the streets and let people patronizing the downtown area learn what services were available; from restaurants and stores to the organizations and events located there.
“Council wanted a program that would help promote downtown in a friendly way. Earlier this year we at the Brandon Neighborhood Renewal Corporation (BNRC) posted the job online and conducted interviews to bring five ambassadors to the program,” said executive director of the BNRC, Carly Gasparini.
When the program started, ambassadors began touring through various parts of downtown, often learning about the different spots they were unaware of themselves.
“We went through a walk-through of downtown at the start of the program and even a few of us here at the BNRC were surprised at all the different services and hotspots that are hidden downtown,” said Gasparini. “You would think that even as people who work in the downtown core that we would be familiar about these places, but there were a few hidden gems here and there that we’ve all learned about.”
The ambassadors opened the program by going to different businesses and introducing themselves. From there, they walked downtown and asked each business or organization what they felt was needed in the area. The ambassadors were able to learn more about downtown events, places to eat, fundraisers; anything that would attract Westman residents to the city’s core.
As the ambassadors toured the area, they were also a second set of eyes and ears to any maintenance issues that needed to be addressed to the city, as well as a helpful hand to downtown residents. They handed out water bottles on some of the hottest days of the summer season.
“All our ambassadors are very friendly. They provide such a welcoming presence for downtown,” said Gasparini.
“Downtown in the last few years has been changing its image as more businesses make their way here. There’s lots to do in terms of eating out or even shopping nowadays. The people we hired to do this job have such love and care for the downtown area, and our ambassadors worked to change the perspectives our city’s residents. The program was really a huge success in how each ambassador was a cheerleader for downtown Brandon.”
A BBQ was held on Aug. 30 to celebrate the inaugural year of the program. Gasparini is hopeful it will be back next summer.
“This program was definitely an eye opener for all that were involved. There is a need for people to learn about the amenities and services that are available downtown, and the ambassador program really just offered a friendly face to do so,” she said.
The Downtown Ambassador Program was a project of the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation. For more information about the BNRC, find them online at bnrc.ca
This story is the final article in a series featuring the businesses and organizations that have revitalized Brandon’s downtown commercial area since an effort to do so was launched several years ago.