Earlier in the month, there was a special announcement made out of the community of Biggar in partnership with Viterra. The town has been in the early stages of a massive overhaul titled the “Biggar Revitalization Project”, and the new Viterra facility in town's promise to the community was the latest news made when it comes to the revival of Biggar’s Main Street among other areas. West Central Online spoke with three people very close to the recent announcement, that is sure to play a big part in reaching the town's financial goal as soon as possible.
End of 2021 totals saw the project has raised over $1.7 million, or about 70 percent of their $2.5 million goal. Community Development Officer for the Town of Biggar D’Shae Bussiere has been very involved in every aspect of the project in town since its inception, and the latest initiative from Viterra is one that should certainly help with the large monetary goal.
“There is lots of excitement with this program being announced,” she said about the recent news, “We’ve had a really good response from everybody. Our rural residents, as well as people in town are excited to see Viterra’s involvement in the project.”
Bussiere provided a great big thank-you to Viterra, describing the teams reaction as “over the moon” when their money matching program was initially announced. More information is available through the link above, but in short, Viterra will be matching donations (up to $50,000) made from a customers grain delivery, and key supporters of the Revitalization Project in the Brownlee Family Foundation will also be matching the donation, resulting in a tripled contribution.
Viterra initially tabled the idea just over a year ago, but now that everything is in place, Bussiere is just so excited to see what comes out of it.
“Just a resounding thank-you to Viterra for bringing that forward, and of course the response we got from our fundraising team about it was great, and now the response that we are seeing from the community and surrounding area in general is amazing.”
Some technicalities were worked out before the official announcement on January 5th, but after about a month and a half both sides were ready to inform the public of Biggar’s latest fundraising opportunity.
Ryan Rindero is a Regional Operations Manger for Viterra, and was the one on hand to announce the good news. He later caught up with West Central Online to speak about the special day.
“Just being involved in a small community being a corporate agriculture citizen. It’s something that’s obviously very interesting because the Ag sector plays such a role in some of these these small communities,”
“It just makes total sense to get involved with an initiative such as this, the revitalization of Biggar’s Main Street, if we’re gonna be building this new facility there.”
It lined up with everything the company is looking to do for people, and the idea just made sense for Viterra from start to finish. As mentioned in Rindero’s quote, the facility in Biggar is brand new, and shortly after the announcement was when the first deliveries were taken in. January 24th is designated as the date to start filling it up, and they hope to have it fully operational by the end of February or early March.
Rindero saw first hand for his company what Biggar can bring to the table for it’s community support, and fully expects the contributions to come in from farmers around the area so that everyone involved can keep the 2.5 pecuniary goal rolling.
(Listen to Rindero describe the collection and matching process at the bottom of the page)
Residents of the Town of Biggar certainly appreciate the work done by their town and Viterra to set the fundraiser up. For one Biggar resident in Brett Barber, Viterra was a huge part of her life over the entire week of the announcement. Barber is a large proponent to the Revitalization Project and was so happy to see the amazing idea out of Viterra, and the grain handling company actually played quite a big role in Barber’s life to begin 2022, as she was a competitor at the Viterra Scotties in Assiniboia.
“The announcement was huge,” smiled Barber, “It was kind of funny when they sent out the invitation to the announcement for our town. Viterra was coming to Biggar to do a huge announcement for the project, but I had to decline the invitation because I was going to be participating in the Viterra Provincial Scotties.
She noted this just goes to show how much Viterra does for Saskatchewan itself, its communities, and sports all across the province. Barber helped explain the matching program in a little more depth, such as a base $50,000 donation from the company even though the main aspect of the campaign is the money matching program. She then came at it from a community angle as perhaps farmers from all around the area will feel inclined to make the trip to Biggar Viterra and help out as best they can.
“(Viterra) are just wrapping up putting up the new terminal. That is super exciting for our community and it brought a bunch of economics for sure too when it was being built,” said Barber, who went on to talk about what she could see coming from the area’s key producers, “Just with it being brand new and them really pushing the farmers, they have had great support in our agriculture community.”
Barber thinks that this initiative could lead to people in the Ag industry providing even more support with the ease of the new program. For the producers who maybe weren’t sure of their ability to contribute, Barber notes that just putting aside any amount of grain at delivery time could be all it takes to make a difference.
“It’s going to really help the numbers go up, and just keep the agriculture community involved in the Biggar Revitalization Project.”
Barber joked that you can’t miss the new Viterra facility upon entry into Biggar, and says you can see the structure from anywhere in town. The brand new facility will be joined by a revitalized Main Street core eventually, as plans start to turn more concrete and the $2.5 million goal continues to be secured.
During our last conversation with the Community Development Officer of Biggar, Bussiere gave the latest update of where the current plans stand.
“In terms of town and plans, we are working through the detailed design process with our engineers for the business core area of Main Street. We have some back and forth, but we do anticipate another public open house towards the end of February.”
The wildly community led project as Bussiere described it, is a key part of their operations as the upcoming meeting should finally provide tangible details for residents to get a better idea of what they may see in the future. She wanted to make it clear that these upcoming plans are just for the business core only, and many more opportunities like it should be available down the road as plans advance.
Bussiere also noted just under one year ago as the date of the first chance for open communication, as they managed to keep it going despite complications during COVID times. They followed guidelines and hosted about 300 people during the initial open house. The project was tabled just a few weeks before the initial gathering, and now sits closer than ever to the $2.5 million goal, with that number still rising significantly by the month.
"What we are getting into now is actually what it's going to look like."
The concept plans are in place, and it’s a long time coming according to Bussiere who has been aware of the Main Street troubles since day one.
“It’s funny when I first started here about three years ago, I would go out and introduce myself to the business community. The biggest concern they had was the state of our Main Street. Not really looking at it in a physical aspect, but in terms of ‘we need to be attracting people’ to open more businesses here. Our businesses and owners are aging, and instead of selling, they are just closing their doors, right?”
Safe to say the master plan is off to a good start.
“This has really brought a new life to our Main Street, to the extent that I have no rental spaces available as of the beginning of December.”
It has to be remembered that a project of this magnitude is only partially possible because of a very important donor.
No more information was made available other than the upcoming open house where the concepts will be tabled to attendees. Actual details for the business core such as trees, a crosswalk design, etc, will attempt to be moved out of the concept stage.
“What we are getting into now is actually what it's going to look like. What are the new light standards going to look like? What are the planters going to look like? What kind of trees do we want?”
The next special thing coming out of the project is a surprise according to Bussiere, but she certainly wants people to keep their eye out for great things out of Biggar. The dollar nature of the program is what has made the most headlines, but they have also had some notable figures to help promote Biggar’s revitalization that include NHL player Jordan Eberle, and TSN’s Vic Rauter.
2021 was a huge year for the Town of Biggar, with all of the planning that went on coming out roses as we enter an expected to be busier 2022 for the people involved.
The Biggar Revitalization Project is something that community members have been very proud to support since it’s inception, and the Community Development Officer as well as her team will need to prepare for an even busier year with actual plans starting to come to the forefront. Bussiere encourages anybody that hasn’t dabbled into the towns big plans to do so, because as soon as we know it, Biggar will have a downtown core worthy of all the work, and a continued inspiration to keep re-modelling their town into exemplary rural fashion.