Jim Rickwood, the mayor of Biggar, Sask., has lived his entire life in Bigger.
Over that time he’s seen the ebb and flow of population in the town of just over 2,100 people.
Some things have stayed the same, like the town’s infamous logo, ‘New York is big, but this is Biggar.’ But the town is in for some major changes.
“When you look down our main street there’s a lot of original buildings that there hasn’t been a lot done to some of them for a long time,” Rickwood said. “It’s time to rejuvenate and reinvent our downtown.”
In mid-April, the town announced plans to give its community a complete facelift in four zones: a gateway entrance, transition zone, business core and grand central park.
Both Rickwood and revitalization committee member Brett Barber see the upgrades to downtown as a crucial part of the town’s revitalization effort.
“In my time, Saturday nights were the hub of activity in Biggar, as they were in every small town in Saskatchewan,” Rickwood said. “It was shoulder-to-shoulder people on Main Street, you couldn’t get parking, people were doing their shopping. It was just a great experience.”
Barber echoed those sentiments.
“I’m so proud to call Biggar home,” Barber said. “Being a business owner and a member of the community here, it’s real exciting.”
The plans couldn’t come a better time for the town, considering the current trends of those moving to Saskatchewan.
“Regina and Saskatoon’s populations have been increasing quite dramatically,” Saskatchewan Realtor Association economic analyst Chris Gbekorbu said. “But outside of Regina and Saskatoon, the population is actually going down.”
The work is being funded through donations, which will be matched up to $2.5 million by former Biggar residents Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee.
The committee hopes to have the projected $8 million secured within the next six months with plans to be ‘shovel ready’ by the spring of 2022.
“We want people to come to our safe community,” Rickwood said. “We want them to make it home, and make a future here. Not just for that generation, but for every generation ahead of us.”