Mike Gelinas has been away from North Bay for 15 years. Upon his return he did not like what he saw in West Ferris. He felt it was time for action
“Forty per cent of North Bay lives in West Ferris,” says Gelinas. “We have to start to take care of them. A few months ago, six of us got together and let’s pursue this and see if there is any interest.”
The one-time North Bay Chamber of Commerce president was compelled to take action. Gelinas has been meeting with more than 60 West Ferris business owners to construct a plan to revive this part of North Bay.
“The unofficial name is the ‘Ferris Business Network’ and we are up to 65 businesses who first got together about three months ago to promote West Ferris,” says Gelinas.
How do they plan to do that?
“We are planning to have different activities or different events so we can get people to come back to West Ferris,” says Gelinas. “We are looking at having a ‘Ferris Fun Day’ in the summer. It will be a BBQ, but instead of having it in one location, we are going to have it in six to 10 locations,” remarked Gelinas. “We are going to have passports; you get stamped at each place and if you fill your passport, you get a prize. The whole purpose of it is to get people to come and see how beautiful Ferris is.”
There are a couple of other events Gelinas and his group have in store for that part of town.
“We are going to host an outdoor movie and long term we want to have a Shadfly monument in Ferris,” states Gelinas. “Once the visitors are finished looking at things downtown, they can spare some time to come down to Ferris and look at the monument. It will be a white monument except for two weeks of the year when the Shadflies come,” says Gelinas.
Those are mainly short-term fixes, what about a long-term change.
“The long-term heal is that if we keep doing these ‘cute’ things, we will get people to come back to Ferris,” remarked Gelinas. “Business will get better, and we will get businesses to come here and the people in Ferris will appreciate what they have in their midst,” says Gelinas.
“It’s been a long time coming,” says Ferris Home Hardware owner Dean Decoste. Decoste is one of the 65 merchants in West Ferris that is a part of the fledgling group. Decoste was surprised how many West Ferris based merchants he had never heard of before. He says that is part of the problem.
“I have had customers come in and say ‘oh, this is the bad part of town to visit,’ we need to be treated by the city on the same level as downtown and McKeown,” says Decoste.
When asked to elaborate on that, the Ferris Home Hardware owner said this. “When events are hosted, they are always downtown or at the waterfront, everything is at the other end of town,” says Decoste.
For his part, Gelinas says he has had some dialogue with some North Bay city hall officials about the group’s plans for West Ferris. He said those discussions have been “positive” in nature.
The West Ferris business lobby met Thursday night to make further plans.