A group of dedicated locals braved the rain Saturday morning with Aldergrove Business Association (ABA) to spruce up downtown facades with supplies donated from local businesses.
Aldergrove’s Otter Co-op donated 45 gallons (worth $1,800) of paint for the cause, which the team – led by ABA president Jodi Steeves – used to spruce up six storefronts in the 27000-block of Fraser Highway.
“We’re sanding, painting, and restoring the front of these shops,” Steeves said, “And hoping it will attract new and better tenants for our downtown.”
Aldergrove’s Home Hardware also donated $200 worth of tools, including scrapers and sanding sponges, which volunteers used to recondition door and window frames outside the shops.
Around 10 volunteers worked for five hours outside – removing old stuck-on signs and tape, markings and repainting “everything below their banisters,” and matching neutral colour tones.
“We tried to pick the place we thought was most in need of beautifying,” Steeves added.
The commercial property owner, Dave Sharma, who has owned the businesses for nearly 12 years welcomed the help.
“I feel good about this,” Sharma said as he witnessed the volunteers in action.
Sharma thinks it is crime in the downtown area that deters prospective tenants from leasing one of his empty storefronts on the strip adjacent to the new community centre.
Two of the stores remain vacant and have been so for nearly two years, he said.
In three different instances, Sharma alleges an intruder cut the shop’s rear chainlink fence and stole goods from the back of the store.
The most recent instance was three months ago, when he was on vacation. It was this time that a brand new washing machine, dryer, fridge, and stove from the back of his adjacent property (on the 27100-block of Fraser Highway) were taken before Sharma had the chance to install them into apartments upstairs, he said.
In the time since, the owner has installed bars over the ground floor windows and back door – to prevent further theft.
“It’s slowly getting better,” he said about suspicious activity occurring in the area.
Cpl. Kurt Neuman, Aldergrove’s community liaison, said what the downtown needs is businesses that are not “negative activity generators,” and will enrichen the community.
Dawn Robertson, a long-time resident and mother, has lived in Aldergrove for nearly half her life.
“I came out today to work because this is my community – I raised my kids here and they still live here,” Robertson said proudly.
Aldergrove’s Boston Pizza supplied pizza for the volunteers at the three-hour mark of their work on the local storefronts.
“It’s all coming down,” Steeves said as old banisters were stripped off one vacant store, making way for a hopeful new start of another.
“It’s something we really wanted to do for Aldergrove,” she said.
The full facade transformation of the 27000-block of Fraser Highway will take nearly a week’s time.
It is estimated to be completed by late next week, Steeves predicted.
“We plan to have the remaining few doors painted, as well as awnings above the stores, and to add curtains behind the storefronty windows and updated ‘for lease’ signage,” Steeves told the Aldergrove Star Monday.