Vilna's Historic Main Street...

Building a future from the past...

Vilna's main street buildings still stand testament to Vilna's storied past, retaining both the architectural history of a true Alberta boomtown and the pioneering spirit of its people...

Alberta Main Street Programme

The Village of Vilna began its partnership with the Alberta Main Street Programme in 1999 with the distinction of being the smallest community ever awarded participation. This project began in Vilna in the spring of 2000 and operated as the Vilna Main Street Project until 2004. During that time, over 20 buildings were enhanced or restored with signage, paint, lighting, windows, doors etc.

Since its creation in 1987, the Alberta Main Street Programme has been a catalyst for downtown revitalization and community economic development initiatives through the historic restoration of Alberta’s Main Streets.

The program’s objective is to help selected communities capitalize on their heritage resources as a source of pride, a business opportunity and a mechanism to increase tourism.

How were these results achieved?

The emphasis of the Vilna Main Street Project was primarily on the successful implementation of the Four Point Approach – organization, design, marketing and economic development. Thus, the focus fell initially on the design component and subsequent architectural rehabilitation and restoration of Vilna’s commercial buildings.

Yet, interdependently, the health of the business district was also a large determining factor in Vilna’s downtown revitalization. Organization, marketing and economic development were therefore equally important to Vilna’s well-structured approach to improving both the physical appearance and economic conditions of the community.

Fundamentally, downtown revitalization breathes new life into a community. The Vilna Main Street Project process generated excitement and optimism for the future and encouraged the community to re-evaluate its direction and find, once again, its own unique identity that made the community a special place to begin with.

Building owners had the opportunity to:

  • Receive 50% funding for their historic (50 yrs.+) building’s facade restoration, awnings and signage up to $15,000
  • Develop conceptual drawings, work programs and cost estimates for their building with the aid of Vilna’s Project Architect, David Murray Architect, at no cost
  • Should their building require the expertise of a Structural Engineer, the Project would bring one in at no cost
  • Sit on the Vilna Main Street Project Advisory Board and be a member of the group that administered the Alberta Main Street Programme in Vilna
  • Work with the Vilna Main Street Coordinator, a professionally trained facilitator of the Project’s Four Point Approach
  • Witness renewed interest in downtown assets while property values, tourism and visitations increase and vacancy rates decreased
  • Recognize the commitment to community and economic development initiatives that resulted in low vacancy rates and high civic pride
  • Participate in Project organized marketing workshops, seminars and joint promotions

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