Norfolk County has a game plan for revitalizing downtown Simcoe.The next step involves the execution.Details are contained in a document titled the “Downtown Simcoe Secondary Plan 2019.“Staff in Norfolk’s development and cultural services division spent the better part of 2018 pulling the 21-page document together. It was tabled at Tuesday’s meeting of Norfolk council.“Surveys specifically identified downtowns as the No. 1 weakness of Norfolk County’s economy,” staff said in the joint report.“Downtown revitalization was identified as the No. 2 high priority issue. The No. 2 obstacle for growth was the status of our downtowns.“`Safe, well-governed communities’ was the second most important community value identified by respondents. People from the community of Simcoe value safe, well-governed communities more than any other stakeholder group.”In pursuit of these objectives, the county has established a number of short-, medium- and long-term goals.In the near term – one to five years out – the county will seek to expand the number of residential units in downtown Simcoe that are suitable and attractive to students attending the Simcoe campus of Fanshawe College. This will increase foot traffic while establishing the core as a place for aspiring professionals.The county intends to resume talks with the Simcoe Farmers Market to relocate it from the Norfolk County Fairgrounds to the downtown. This too will increase foot traffic in the core while supporting businesses that will benefit from it.Locations and money will be sought for public art installations. In depressed urban centres, vibrant creative communities have been identified as a necessary first step toward re-investment and gentrification.Landscape improvements and parkettes are on the drawing board, as are policies to facilitate mobile food trucks.In the medium term – six years to 10 years out – the county wants urban design standards in place that reflect the kind of core people want to visit.This includes encouraging the use of durable, high-quality building materials. That means more stone, brick and glass. Materials that don’t age well such as stucco, exterior insulation compounds, vinyl and reflective glass will be discouraged.The boundaries of the downtown could also be reduced to distinguish between the established core and areas that are unlikely to meet this standard. Streets and road allowances with low traffic volumes could be closed to create pedestrian-oriented, people-friendly spaces.In the long term – 10 years out and beyond – Norfolk would like to see additional post-secondary programming in Simcoe. This has been a great benefit to downtown Brantford since the establishment of a Wilfrid Laurier satellite campus.A report on the core says there are signs downtown Simcoe is turning the corner. Staff cite Indwell`s purchase of the Norfolk Inn on Norfolk Street South last fall as an example.Once a popular entertainment centre in Norfolk County, the Norfolk Inn in recent years has devolved into a transient housing complex. The run-down building had 41 tenants at the time Indwell, a social housing provider based in Hamilton, acquired it.Indwell representatives spoke to council Tuesday about the $7.4 million renovation.Leah Logan, Indwell’s regional manager, and Graham Cubitt, director of projects and development, delivered a slide show which included interior photos shortly after Indwell bought the property.One photo featured a room heaped with trash and filth. Logan said there was so much garbage in the room that Indwell staff did not notice that the tenant was hiding under a table at the back of the room.“This is not abnormal,” Logan said. “We often see this. We know people thrive in their homes when they have love, dignity and hope. Currently, these residents do not have dignity and hope.”Council was effusive in its praise and wished Indwell the best. When the renovation is finished in 2020, there will be 30 supervised housing units similar to those that Indwell manages at Hambleton Hall on John Street.“This is such a positive step,” said Port Rowan Coun. Tom Masschaele. “I’m so excited to see this. You are literally a godsend, so keep up the good work.”[email protected]