From drab to fab: Downtown Canora gets a makeover thanks to dedicated residents

The people in the small Saskatchewan town are raising its morale and trying to attract new residents by improving downtown with something as simple as a coat of paint. Canora Revive Group is leading the charge.

Sometimes a fresh coat of paint can make a world of difference

The Canora Revive Group has a pay-it-forward program that lets local businesses donate whatever money they can afford to pay for paint, and then volunteers paint the buildings that could use a makeover. (Submitted by Brandi Zavislak)

It started with a paint brush and a real love for her town, and it's transformed into something Brandi Zavislak and resident of Canora are really proud of.

"I'm raising three young children here and we want to see this community keep growing. We want to see it keep improving. We want the right businesses to move here. We want great things happening in our town," said Zavislak. 

For about a year, the community development officer and the Canora Revive Group have been painting up a storm in an effort to make downtown more vibrant, make residents proud of where they live and improve morale.

The town, about 50 kilometres north of Yorkton, has done this together.

"Each business gives us what they can — a few hundred dollars or what not, whatever it is that they can afford — and myself and volunteers actually paint the buildings for them," Zavislak said. 

She says it has really improved morale and the attitudes around town. People of all ages and community groups, such as the 4H, have pitched in to help with the painting.

A fresh coat of paint on businesses in downtown Canora has helped them create a more vibrant Main Street, according to Brandi Zavislak. (Submitted by Brandi Zavislak)

Businesses were chosen based on which ones looked like they needed the facelift and then the group would reach out to make sure it was OK with the owners, Zavislak says.

"They were all very touched and very happy and extremely grateful," she said, adding that it's really raised the standards of the town. 

"We want to be proud of where we live, we want to take pride in our community and that shows through how you treat it," Zavislak said. "We're trying really hard to shape things up in our community."

Over the holiday season, the town also created a special light display in a park that will remain in place for a few more weeks.

The holiday light display in Canora was created to honour loved ones. (Submitted by Brandi Zavislak)

"These lights are in memory of loved ones," Zavislak said, adding she was inspired through her travels to other cities and their special holiday light displays, including the Forestry Farm in Saskatoon or the Calgary Zoo.

Bright lights cover many of the trees in the park, each has a little sign describing who sponsored that part of the display and those it honours. 

Zavislak says she knew the town wouldn't have the budget to put together something on the same scale as larger cities, but she felt that they could try it their own way. And, she says, it has largely been a success. 

"It has attracted people from all over," she said, adding it's been very touching for a lot of people, especially those who  returned home to Canora for the holidays.

CBC Radio's Blue Sky is doing a monthly segment about good news happening in small communities around Saskatchewan. Have an idea for our next segment? Email us


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