Boundaries of downtown Amherst need to be spelled out

Staff ~ The Amherst News
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To the Editor;

It has been brought to this observer's attention that the Downtown Amherst Revitalization Society's interpretation of what constitutes Downtown Amherst may be somewhat historically askew in terms of who is in and who is out when it comes to recognizing legitimate businesses operating within the town boundaries. For those too young or a bit fuzzy in terms of our town's history, the designation Downtown Amherst was coined to differentiate between the businesses operating in the town proper and those setting up in the mall(s) on outer Albion Street.
In the beginning, there was a decided exodus of businesses out of the town, which occurred for a number of reasons, not least being shopping convenience and the availability of ample parking. Consequently some town establishments suffered a loss of clientele, and some, alas, were forced or opted to close.
It would seem that the daunting challenge of revitalizing the town business community (to vitalize means to endow with life, infuse with vigour) in order to offset the mall competition, should mean a gathering of the collective spirit of all Amherst businesses, and to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in order to remain viable options for customers. That does not appear to be the case. The optimal requirement now has little to do with who or what you are, but all to do with where you are.
A recent pamphlet detailing the events for the upcoming Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival has left out an Amherst business specifically involved in fibre arts. The reasons cited were (1) the business is too far from Downtown Amherst, and (2) it is too late to include the business because the pamphlet has already been printed. Really!
This arbitrary decision to use geography to select the "In" businesses, to the exclusion of all others, must necessarily exclude the Home Hardware stores, the Co-op feed store and garden centre, the Nova Scotia Liquor Store, Buzzell's on LaPlanche Street, Moore's on Station Street, Highland Quikmart and many others that are equally as far and much farther from the Revitalization Society's interpretation of Downtown Amherst as the excluded business is.
It is time the new boundaries of Downtown Amherst were spelled out, including the reasoning behind such a blatantly unfair and evidently selective inclusion/exclusion of town businesses in the equation.
John G. McKay, Amherst

Geographic location: Amherst

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Recent comments

  • Gwen Kerr
    January 18, 2010 - 11:22

    Last year, a group of people interested in the beautiful fibre-related artwork that is produced here in Amherst and surrounding areas (rug hooking, quilting, felting, spinning, etc) decided to put together a festival to show off their work and hold workshops to teach others how to create their own pieces. It was small, but was a tremendous success, so this year's festival will be even bigger and better.
    There is a website that will give you some more information
    I hope this helps!

  • Huge
    January 18, 2010 - 11:21

    The really funny thing about downtown Amherst is that one of the funeral homes has a fully functional crematorium right in the middle of the downtown core.

    You know. Across from Bambino's. Next door to the German restaurant.

    Planning? Good taste?


  • ras
    January 18, 2010 - 11:12

    So Gwen, what is the Fibre arts Festival ?

  • shananigans
    January 18, 2010 - 11:01

    Furthermore, the term Downtown Amherst was in use before there were malls in Amherst. And, if this business you speak of is truly mainly involved with Fibre Arts, it would have made sure is was included in Fibre Arts Festival some how.

  • Big Bad
    January 18, 2010 - 10:42

    We're still no further ahead in trying to figure out what business Mr. MacKay is referring to that was left out of the promotional, I beg your pardon, promotional FIBRE.
    Anyone out there want to throw out some names for debate/speculation?

  • Aha!
    January 18, 2010 - 10:37

    This site explains the festival. It all makes sense now.

  • Gwen Kerr
    January 18, 2010 - 10:37

    I am on the Fibre Arts Festival committee which operates independently from DARS and can say that I don't have any idea what business you are referring to. We spent months lining up the Festival events and gathering the information for the brochure. We even extended the deadline a few times so that we could include as much information as possible. There is a Festival website that can accommodate any events that are organized late - if the business you refer to is planning to hold an event please ask them to contact the committee at
    As for expanding the boundaries of downtown I agree. My husband and I operate the Regent B&B and we are not considered part of the downtown even though we are only a few blocks away. We recommend that all of our guest visit the downtown area and it would be nice to be included.

  • Daisy
    January 18, 2010 - 10:34

    What is a Fibre Arts Festival? Is this something new for Amherst? All I can guess it is either something to do with cloth-making or else Bran Flakes.

  • shananigans
    January 18, 2010 - 10:34

    whenever someone says they are going Downtown, it means, in my opinion as someone who was born and raised in Amherst, lower church st. victoria st between the train tracks and Victorian Motel, that general area. I would not consider Quik Mart or Home Hardware Down Town. And Frenchies is on the fringe of Down Town. Sometimes you are damed if you do and damed if you don't.