I remember my highschool english teacher made me memorize a number of interesting quotes. One of those quotes was Robert Browning's "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?" I've never forgotten that quote and I've interpreted it to mean that we should always try and strive to better ourselves. For community and economic development, I think we should always be looking for ways to make our communities even better places to live and operate a business.
Nevertheless, while "reaching beyond", sometimes it's good to stop for a moment and look around to see how far you've come. The Town of Bancroft recently did that.
Bancroft particpated in a formal First Impressions Community Exchange (FICE) with the Town of Deep River. FICE is a program that is coordinated by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. What happens is officials/volunteers from Bancroft visit Deep River incognito and follow a check list of things to explore and look for while in the community. Deep River comes to Bancroft and does the same.
In late September, 2015, Deep River representatives presented their findings to Bancroft. As reported by Kristina Schutt in the October 8, 2015 edition of the Bancroft Times, there are many things they found in Bancroft that "blew them away".
Deep River visitors were impressed with the many opportunities people have to access health care in Bancroft. In particular, they noted the local Hospital, 24 hour emergency services, a six chair dialysis unit, X-ray and ultrasound services, six doctors as part of the North Hastings Family Health Team and two more in private practice, three dentists, three chiropractors, an optometrist, massage therapists, a seniors centre and the Hastings Centennial Manor.
Visitors from Deep River also commented on how "positive, vibrant and environmentally conscious" the local economy and retail in the downtown area is. They didn't find any empty storefronts and they were impressed with the quality of merchandise and variety. Staff in stores were reportedly friendly and answered questions about the Town with pride. While parking is sometimes a big issue for downtowns, those from Deep River commented that there was plenty of parking spaces within the downtown core.
As Kristina Schutt reported, Deep River representatives concluded their presentation by highlighting the excellent green space they found, the good places to eat, beautiful flower displays and good directional signage. While there were other things they commented on that the Town should consider improving, for the most part it seemed that there was mainly a "glowing review" of Bancroft, especially for the health care services and access and the downtown area.