The Town of Biggar is getting a huge boost in funding to put towards revitalizing the town, from two former residents who have nothing but love for the west central community.
Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee, through their family foundation, have committed to donate up to $2.5 million, which will be put towards the revitalization of the town and it’s business core. The Brownlee’s said they will match the money raised by the town, it’s residents and past residents up to that amount, potentially giving the town a total of $5 million to see their vision through.
D’Shae Bussiere, community development officer with the Town of Biggar, said she can speak for everyone when she says they were flabbergasted when they were presented with the offer.
“I couldn’t even believe it, I was so shocked – the generosity of the Brownlee’s, I don’t know if it knows an extent. This project has been something we have been working on for a long time and for them to come in and allow us to really start moving forward with it... it just means the world to us”.
In a recent news release, it was outlined that the revitalization project will include a potential $5 million investment to update Main Street and transform the Canadian National Railway grounds into multi-use park, tourism hub and interpretive centre, projects that are near and dear to the Brownlee’s hearts.
During a Facebook live segment with D’Shae and the Brownlee’s, they shared their memories of hanging out on Main Street and at the CN grounds and it was at those places that some of their best memories were made.
Ina Lou and Wayne reminisced about their years in the west central community and said they want to do their part to preserve the town to allow future generations to have the same memories.
“It’s for the love of Biggar,” said Ina Lou, when asked why they decided to make the generous donation they did. For Wayne, he said he remembers watching one of his first hockey games on a colour TV on Main Street as one of the shop owners turned the TV to face the sidewalk and Wayne watched the Montreal Canadiens take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in what would be a very memorable game for Wayne.
The Brownlee Family Foundation has a defined mission – to give back to Saskatchewan and they wanted to pay homage to the place that gave them an “idyllic childhood”.
The initial stages of this project started with a wish list back in 2019, where at that time, the inquiring donors were anonymous. Bussiere said they were asked to provide a wish list, which ended up being four pages long, of things they would like to do within the community. Many items on this wish list resonated with the donors and from there, the project moved forward, showing promise for the Town of Biggar.
“The Brownlee’s have have presented our town with an incredible opportunity,” said Mayor Jim Rickwood in the recent news release. “This gift is a statement of belief in the future of their hometown, and allows our community to look at 2021 with optimism and enthusiasm. We are eager to engage our citizens more actively in the plan in the weeks ahead”.
Residents of Biggar and surrounding communities will have the opportunity to weigh in on the project and have their vision for the town heard through a series of open houses.
People are invited to attend the Public Open House at the Biggar Community Hall on January 22, from 3:00 – 8:00 pm, and on January 23, form 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Those who are wishing to attend must register by calling the town, so to abide by the public health restrictions.
Additionally, there will be an online open house on January 25 at 7:00 pm.