The Diggin’ Downtown project received a Marketing Canada award and professional recognition from the Economic Developers Association of Canada (EDAC) for a “recovery project” at their 2022 conference. The Marketing Canada Awards acknowledge and praise communities who have succeeded in excellence in economic development marketing efforts.
When the construction project started in 2021 many businesses were struggling with pandemic-related impacts, therefore a strategic marketing and communications plan was developed to support activities and ensure adaptability during changing situations. The “Diggin Downtown” campaign focused on efforts to bring awareness to the project, reasons for disruptions and delivered consistent information – when pandemic restrictions brought uncertainty. The Diggin’ Downtown project team worked alongside property owners to ensure the community was aware that businesses were ‘open for business’ – even when curbside pick-up was the only option and when construction was happening at their doorstep.
Mayor Nancy Alcock congratulated the joint efforts of the Town, District of Muskoka and community partners,
“The Collaboration between both the Town and District was a key ingredient in making the Diggin’ Downtown project a huge success. From the very beginning, there was a strong focus on joint planning, communication and community engagement and it really shows when you look at what was accomplished here. Well done Diggin’ Downtown project team!”
Throughout this project, the team relied on continued feedback from the community to guide decisions. The Diggin’ Downtown project is a success due to the patience and understanding of those affected who experienced disruptions, detours, inconveniences and closures. Construction projects can be challenging in many ways, and navigating a project of this size and importance through the pandemic was not easy. Creative and unique approaches to marketing and communication outreach activities were introduced to ensure the needs of our community were met, and the information was delivered on time.
Lisa Spolnik, Marketing Manager at the Town of Huntsville and Quinn Michell, Communications Manager at the District of Muskoka, expressed their enthusiasm when receiving the news of the award and both attribute this to a team effort, involving many team members and partners from across the District,
“The Diggin’ Downtown project team is honoured to be recognized with a Marketing Canada Award. Despite the ongoing challenges and shifting strategies construction projects often bring – our team remained committed to delivering valuable information to keep our community informed,” said Spolnik.
“This award acknowledges the years of planning and passion from partners from both Town and District teams, and puts a spotlight on the communication efforts that supported one of the largest infrastructure improvement projects in our area, so far,” echoed Michell.
Sharing our Success with Industry Experts
The Diggin’ Downtown project was also recognized at the Right of Way (ROW) Conference, in October. Members from the project team hosted a session for delegates from municipalities, road authorities, utility companies, consultants, contractors, and associations about the project, entitled “Diggin’ Downtown – A Collaborative Approach to Urban Core Reconstruction in the Town of Huntsville.”
District of Muskoka’s Director of Engineering and Transportation, Mark Misko, reflects on the project success,
“We relied on the feedback from our community to guide our decisions, this project was a success because of the patience and understanding by all those affected. Construction projects can be challenging in many ways, and navigating through the pandemic was not an easy task. I am proud of all the people who collaborated on this project. It was a community-driven project and the opportunity to share our successes and learnings with industry experts, is evidence of the great work District and Town partners can accomplish, together.”
The Diggin’ Downtown project is now complete in Downtown Huntsville. Residents and visitors are encouraged to visit downtown to check out the new streetscape design and continue to shop local this holiday season!