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Downtown Facade Improvement Program

Background – Historical Significance

circadowntownWhile most towns in Nova Scotia were settled as either French or an English colony, Yarmouth was settled by both at different periods in time. In the early 1600’s a French fishing settlement was established, where Yarmouth stands today. Over a century later, the town of Yarmouth was settled by a group of New England Planters. Following the Seven Years’ War Acadians who were exiled returned to the area, followed after the American Revolution by a large number of United Empire Loyalists arriving in the late 1700’s. This dynamic history is reflected in Yarmouth’s existing built form.

Yarmouth is filled with extravagant, handsome buildings from centuries ago, and is known for having the “most exuberant” examples of Victorian style houses in the Maritimes. These houses were the homes of wealthy captains and ship-owners, and the buildings left today are mementos of that age. In contrast to the Victorian houses, Yarmouth is scattered with brick and stone buildings, with arched windows and handsome detailing. When looking through archived photos you can see the diversity of buildings that lined Main Street. However, over the course of the years a majority of the buildings have been lost to fire and demolition.

For this reason, it is of utmost importance to prioritize quality preservation of the building’s that are left.

This Façade Improvement Program provides specific recommendations for the upgrading of building façades in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The Façade Improvement Program is an initiative of the Town of Yarmouth.

The successful revitalization of unique streets and districts within our towns creates places that are part of people’s everyday lives. Where there are people, there will be more people - a key ingredient in the success of retail industry.

Grinners Systems reports a direct increase of 10-20% in sales as a result of façade improvements in their numerous restaurants throughout Nova Scotia. This ‘business bump’ can last up to two or three years. This Façade Improvement Program will help individual building owners realize the potential of their own properties.

The Facade Improvement Program is managed by the Yarmouth Facade Society, through a Grant provided by the Town of Yarmouth. They work to further the funding process and assist each business in acquiring funds and professional services required to complete this project and will approve façade designs proposed by the building owners.

Participation In The Façade Incentive Program

consulateOwners of commercial properties on Main Street between King Street and Forest Street were invited to participate in the façade improvement program, starting with an initial presentation with the downtown merchants to outline the program and the opportunities it provides. A survey was released to introduce the project. An information pamphlet was given to each business owner to invite them to the session. A generous showing of building and business owners showed up to the initial meeting on July 30, 2014 resulting in a full day of scheduled sidewalk conferences. During the sidewalk conference, Ekistics Planning & Design (the design firm) met with individual property owners to discuss how they would like to see their façades changed. Of the responses, collected twenty owners were interviewed and then a conceptual façade design developed as a result of the architect and owner consultation. Façade designs were prepared to meet property owners’ objectives for improved street frontage, to respond to the form of individual buildings, and create a cohesive Yarmouth style with broad appeal. The designs ranged from simple modifications to whole façade makeovers.

Incentive Details & Program Eligibility

Property owners within the program area were offered conceptual design assistance to plan possible upgrades for their building façade. A key incentive for property owners to participate in the design process is the opportunity to access financial support to assist with implementation of the recommended façade improvements. This funding only covers exterior façade improvements (like windows, doors, siding, etc) and professional fees (structural, architectural, electrical, etc.) which may be needed to implement the changes. Interior alterations are not eligible for this program even if the exterior alterations require interior modifications. For more simple changes (i.e. siding, windows, doors, etc.), the plans outlined in this Façade Improvement Report may be adequate for construction costing purposes. For more complicated renovations, professionals may be required for detailed design work.

Façade Style

275x232sizeThere are several coordinating elements, which will coordinate the Downtown façade ‘style’. The largest coordinating element would be the streetscape with street trees, architectural lighting, banners, etc. More than anything else, this one element will help pull the façades together into an integrated theme for the street.
The other coordinating elements include:

Coordinated Architectural Lighting

Wherever possible, façades should employ RLM Gooseneck sign lighting.

Coordinated Signage

All buildings should coordinate sign standards. Signs should be individual letters or shaped effigy signs reflecting the business. The installation of cheap, backlit rectangular metal box signs only serve to reinforce the transient nature of a business. This goes against the image of permanence and stability that will attract business.

Coordinated Building Number Signs

Ideally, civic numbers should be coordinated with font, size and colour for each building.

Coordinated Colour Scheme

A colour palette should be coordinated for Yarmouth to encourage a common colour family AND the use of 2-3 colours for every building. A recommended colour palette is included in the Façade Improvement Report.

High Quality Glass Storefronts

facadeStorefronts in Yarmouth should be upgraded. Long blank walls should be replaced wherever possible. Original wood framed storefronts should be repaired and replaced as per original design. New storefronts should be double-glazed as a minimum. The age of many of the storefronts also suggest a retrofit to a more energy efficient standard could be money well spent.

Coordinated High Quality Siding

Vinyl siding can be replaced with wood or CanExel siding, brick can be repointed and old stone can be replaced. New siding is an effective and inexpensive way to breathe life into Yarmouth

Phase 1 Program Implementation Summary

Phase 1 program launched September 2014 to October 2015

  • Yarmouth Façade Society incorporated
  • Target Program Area: Downtown Core Retail Area (King St. to Forest
    St. on Main)
  • Target number of applicants: 28 commercial applicants
  • Target Program Grant Budget: $150,000
  • Target Program Economic Spinoff - $300,000 of total construction spend
  • Phase 1 program achievements
  • 24 applications met eligibility criteria and approved for grant
  • $97,000 granted by Yarmouth Façade Society towards façade improvements
  • $291,183 in economic spinoff - total construction expenses incurred by businesses.
  • Participants and Community Feedback
  • Improved the downtown landscape – more attractive to visitors
  • 22 business owner inquiries for Phase Two of program

Phase 2 Program Announcement

Pending 2016/17 Budget Announcement

Town of Yarmouth

 This is an exciting time for the Town of Yarmouth. By working together, we can meet today’s challenges and build a better future.”

Pam Mood


Town of Yarmouth
400 Main Street
Yarmouth, B5A 1G2

  (902) 742-2521
  (902) 742-6244

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