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  • Heart of Our City Activity Grants Awarded To Downtown Events for 2020

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    The Heart of Our City Committee announced today that it has awarded $126,000 in Heart of Our City Activity Grants to 21 events to be held in the downtown in 2020.

    These events include a variety of music, arts and cultural festivals that will attract audiences and participants to downtown Lethbridge. Receiving funding are 14 multi-day events and 7 single-day events which will occur over a total of 117 days and are expected to attract more than 60,000 attendees to the downtown core.

    There are a number of popular events returning including: Arts Days, Lethbridge Electronic Music Festival, Downtown Farmers Market, Word on the Street, and Wide Skies, to name a few. There will also be two new events this year including: Lethbridge Living Film Festival and Lethbridge Community Art Hive. Grant amounts range from $1,000 to $10,000.

    “We’re pleased and proud to provide financial assistance on behalf of the City of Lethbridge to a really great array of events that will help achieve City Council’s goal of enhancing the vibrancy of our downtown,” says Dawn Leite, chair of the Heart of Our City Committee.

    The Heart of Our City Activity Grant provides funding support to help Lethbridge organizations host events that foster an exciting, vibrant downtown and attract audiences to the heart of our city.

    Details on the events receiving Activity Grant funding in 2020 are available at: www.lethbridge.ca/hocactivitygrant


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  • Applications Now Being Accepted for 2020 HOC Actvity Grant

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    Applications now being accepted for 2020 Heart of Our City Activity Grant

    The Heart of Our City Committee has completed a review of the Activity Grant to ensure the program is meeting its intended purpose as well as the needs of the organizations who look to utilize the grant to bring exciting events to the Downtown every year. The committee is excited to announce that following consultation with past applicants and an in-depth review, there are few changes to the program proposed for 2020 and that applications are new being accepted.

    The purpose of the Activity Grant is to provide funds to help Lethbridge organizations host festivals and events that create an exciting and vibrant downtown and attract audiences to the city centre.

    Events and festivals located in the Downtown core or in the Civic Common are eligible for up to $10,000 annually provided they are not already receiving funding from other City of Lethbridge sources. Grants greater than $1,000 are conditional on the applicant organization providing 50-per-cent matching funds. Applicants must be a not-for-profit or apply under the auspices of an affiliate or sponsoring organization with not-for-profit status.

    Heart of Our City Activity Grant applications will be accepted until November 29, 2019. Information and application forms are available at: www.lethbridge.ca/HOCactivitygrant.

    Applications will be evaluated by a grant review committee based on how the event or festival contributes to an exciting, animated, and vibrant experience in Downtown. Successful applicants will be notified of a grant decision as soon as possible after December November 11, 2019.

    Media Contacts:

    Andrew Malcolm

    Urban Revitalization Manager

    403-320-3926

    andrew.malcolm@lethbridge.ca


  • Celebrating Downtown Champions

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    We often use the term revitalization when we talk about the work we are doing in downtown Lethbridge. But what does revitalization really mean? First and foremost, we aimed to create vibrant spaces through positive change. We are challenging the status-quo with investment opportunities and the implementation of programs and services that are helping to create revitalization.

    The process is slow and continuous and although individual aspects or projects can be completed, revitalization as a whole is an ongoing process. Every time a new shop opens, a vacant building gets new tenants, a property slated for demolition is restored, or a festival light up a street, we are seeing the exciting effects of downtown revitalization.

    The challenge with revitalization is that it hinges on the concept of change, which we know is a tough for many, especially when it is in relation to where we live, work or play. Commitment to change is made much easier when you have champions. Champions are those outstanding individuals, businesses, and organizations who embrace change and lead through their actions..

    We are extremely lucky that we have so many champions who work tirelessly day in and day out to enhance and promote our downtown. On April 11 we will celebrate those champions at the Celebrate Downtown awards put on by the Heart of our City (HOC) committee.

    Nominations for the 7 Celebrate Downtown award categories closed on March 1st with 120+ individual nominations. The Celebrate Downtown subcommittee is extremely excited by the number of nominations this year, and has a difficult task at evaluating and making a decision on who will take home the awards.

    The Celebrate Downtown award event will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Multicultural Centre (421 6th Avenue South) where downtown friends, neighbors, colleagues and community contributors will have an opportunity to honour our downtown champions while enjoying appetizers, drinks, and live entertainment.

    Information on the nominees can be found at www.lethbridge.ca/downtown and by following the event on Facebook at www.facebook.co/celebratedowntownlethbridge, where there is also information on how you can get your FREE ticket today.

    I also want to remind our downtown business community about the next upcoming safety seminar taking place April 16 at Casa from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The session topic will be on event safety and security including how to protect your business when there are large influxes of people in an area. More information on these monthly sessions can be found at www.lethbridge.ca/safetyeducation.

    I have been encouraged by recent engagement on our Downtown and continue to challenge every resident to help our downtown to be the best it can be. With our partners on the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of Our City Committee, we encourage you to contribute to the content of this column and the BRZ’s #OurDowntown video series with your comments, questions, ideas, and suggestions and engaging with us on Twitter (@DowntownLeth) using the hashtag #ourdowntown and at www.getinvolvedlethbridge.ca/ourdowntown.




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  • Committee Dedicated to Downtown

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    The Heart of Our City Committee is a standing committee of City Council established as an outcome of the Heart of Our City Master Plan in 2007. The committee meets once a month and is tasked with championing downtown revitalization. The committee makes recommendations to City Council on issues that affect the downtown, monitor planning and development activities and provide strategic direction on policy. This group also develops incentives and programs that reflect the vision for downtown.

    The committee is comprised of thirteen representatives who bring a diverse set of social, cultural, educational, and environmental perspectives to the table. Members include representatives from: City Council, Downtown Business Revitalization Zone, Development Industry, Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Lethbridge, Lethbridge Historical Society, Allied Arts Council, Southern Alberta Ethnic Association, Indigenous representative and four citizens at large.

    The committee is funded primarily through the Downtown Redevelopment Fund within the City’s Operating Budget. The fund is responsible for important planning documents such as the Galt Gardens Master Plan (2016) and Civic Common Master Plan (2018) and establishes and maintains successful programs such as the Heart of Our City Activity Grant, Galt Gardens Security, Historic Plaques, Main Street Program Grants - just to name a few.

    The Heart of our City Committee has also been involved in making important funding requests for initiatives that address specific concerns in the Downtown. This has included the Housing Incentive Program (2015), Targeted Redevelopment Incentive (2018), and initiatives targeting cleanliness and safety such as the Diversion Outreach Team (2015) and the recently announced Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy (2019).

    In addition to operating budget requests, the committee has been instrumental in pushing for and supporting significant capital projects in the Downtown including the new Transit Terminal and Park ‘n’ Ride and upcoming 3 Avenue South Streetscaping Reconstruction project between 4 Street and 8 Street.

    To find out more on the Heart of Our City Committee checkout www.lethbridge.ca/downtown.

    I challenge every resident to help Our Downtown to be the best it can be. With our partners on the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of Our City committee, we encourage you to contribute to the content of this column by joining the conversation on Twitter (@DowntownLeth) using the hashtag #ourdowntownwith yourcomments, questions, ideas, and suggestions .


    *This column was published in the Lethbridge Herald on February 11 , 2019

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  • Clean Sweep Program is Paying Dividends

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    Places that are well maintained and clean not only raise property values and lower vacancy rates but they also create an inviting environment where people want to stop and spend time. It makes the statement that someone cares for this place, they are taking care of it and there is a sense of pride. This is very much the case in Downtown Lethbridge and it’s largely due to the efforts of the Clean Sweep Program who maintain a clean downtown for all to enjoy.

    The Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) manages the very impactful Clean Sweep Program (CSP) which is a joint initiative between the BRZ, Social Housing in Action and the Heart of Our City Committee. The program seeks to make a positive contribution to Downtown Lethbridge, specifically related to maintaining a clean public space. The program provides individuals who are experiencing various levels of homelessness with the opportunity to participate in meaningful daily activities. This work goes a long way in helping build employment and financial literacy skills and supporting social inclusion while making a positive contribution to the community.

    CSP clients receive a small stipend, training, clothing and a bagged lunch, courtesy of Canadian Mental Health and local businesses to perform a variety of tasks within the downtown early in the morning Monday to Friday. Their primary role is to clean streets/lanes in the summer, pick up leaves in the fall and clear snow from the public areas during the winter months while also offering pressure washing services and graffiti removal for private businesses in the downtown. With a combined effort between the CSP and the City’s graffiti removal program, you will be hard-pressed to find graffiti or tags in the downtown, and if you do, make sure to call the BRZ office and they will deploy CSP as soon as possible!

    The role of CSP became even more prominent in 2018 for several reasons. First, they are now playing a critical role in addressing a major community issue as needle debris collection was added to their tasks and has expanded outside the downtown to provide service to the area around the supervised consumption site and other hotspots. Secondly, a partnership with the City’s Waste and Recycling Department saw CSP participate in a new leaf collection and composting initiative in the downtown. As a result, nearly 2,000 brown bags of leaves were diverted from the landfill this fall. In recognition of this, CSP was recently awarded the ‘Green Superhero Organization’ award from Environment Lethbridge. Finally, Lowe’s provided the CSP a Lowe’s Heroes grant for just under $6,000 in addition to staff skills and labor, which will go towards much needed upgrades to the sheds used for coffee/gathering space as well as equipment storage.

    The CSP will be evolving their programs with the launch of ‘The Pallet Design Company’, which will see CSP clients employed in the design and construction of furniture and goods out of recycled pallets. This program will provide the next step in the employment spectrum assisting those with the transition to part-time or full-time employment. More information on this program will be shared in 2019.

    Maintaining a clean environment is a cornerstone for the successful revitalization of downtown and the CSP is playing a critical role in helping achieve that. If you happen to be in the downtown before 8 a.m., be sure to take a moment to stop and thank these individuals for the positive contribution they are making to our downtown and congratulate them for a year of exciting achievements.

    I challenge every resident to help Our Downtown to be the best it can be. With our partners on the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of Our City Committee, we encourage you to contribute to the content of this column and the BRZ’s #OurDowntown video series with your comments, questions, ideas, and suggestions by engaging with us on Twitter (@DowntownLeth) using the hashtag #ourdowntown and at www.getinvolvedlethbridge.ca/ourdowntown.


    * This column was published in the Lethbridge Herald on December 3, 2018.


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  • Options Exist For Downtown Business Beautification

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    Never underestimate the power of a well-designed storefront. Aside from word-of-mouth recommendations shoppers typically only have curb appeal to help them determine whether or not a business is worth visiting. And a customer’s first impression of a business’s brand can often be the difference between someone coming in or walking past. When competing with the big-box retailers, chains, and franchises that have very identifiable branding, smaller local businesses must turn on the charm by creating storefronts that are welcoming to visitors and quickly tell them what goods and services are provided.

    Despite the fact that storefront beautification projects that improve curb appeal can count for 70 per cent of new visitor sales at restaurants, retail shops, and hotels and lodging establishments, it is often difficult for small businesses to front the capital costs to pull off such improvements.

    Cue Community Futures, a community driven, non-profit organization that is actively engaged in providing a wide range of small business services and business management tools for people who want to start, expand, or improve a business.

    In 2011, Community Futures partnered with the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone and Heart of Our City to provide the Business Improvement Loan program to provide financial assistance to businesses in the downtown. The program provides interest-free loans up to a maximum of $15,000 for downtown businesses to improve the appearance of their business, with the interest being paid by the Heart of Our City.

    Eligible improvements include signage, exterior finishes, repair or replacement of storefront windows and doors, interior and exterior lighting, window display areas, new architectural features, addition of patio areas and landscaping, flooring and much more!

    Since 2011, 87 loans have been issued which have directly resulted in maintaining and creating more than 320 full- and part-time jobs as well as being leveraged to facilitate more than $1.6 million in improvements in our Downtown.

    “This program is a win-win, as small business and entrepreneurs receive valuable assistance while also contributing to making our downtown more beautiful and sustainable” says Darlene Sinclair, General Manager of Community Futures Lethbridge Region.

    More information on the Business Improvement Loan program and other small business services and business management tools that Community Futures provides can be found at www.lethbridgeregion.albertacf.com or by contacting 403-320-6044.

    I challenge every resident to help Our Downtown to be the best it can be. With our partners on the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of Our City Committee, we encourage you to contribute to the content of this column and the BRZ’s #OurDowntown video series with your comments, questions, ideas, and suggestions by engaging with us on Twitter (@DowntownLeth) using the hashtag #ourdowntown and at www.getinvolvedlethbridge.ca/ourdowntown.

    *This column was published in the Lethbridge Herald on November 19, 2018

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  • Downtown Offers Lots of Diversity

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    Downtown is more diverse and inclusive than ever as residents, businesses, and organizations representing people from around the world utilize the centre of our city on a daily basis.

    Through the sharing of food, people and relationships, or cultural activities, visitors will find diverse ethnic and cultural experiences in our Downtown. Whether you are spending time in the small but culturally and historically rich district of Chinatown, visiting any of the ethnic restaurants and retailers - Tacos Made in Mexico, Nakagama’s Japanese Foods and Giftware, Josees Handmade Imports to name a few - or by participating in some of the amazing cultural activities and events hosted by the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association (SAEA) at its downtown location in the Multicultural Centre on the corner of 6th Avenue and 5th Street South.

    The SAEA represents diverse ethnic societies and clubs in southern Alberta as they promote understanding, awareness, and celebration by offering programs that highlight different global cultures, languages, religions, cuisines, dancing and performances, ethnic music, thoughts and philosophies.

    Throughout the year the SAEA organizes and showcases a multitude of cultural events such as regular Cultural Nights, celebrations of Heritage Day, Festival Latino, Caribbean Carnival, and an Annual International Dinner and Dance. There are a number of upcoming events (many that involve delicious food) before the year is done, including: Taste of Africa (Oct. 26), Taste of Ecuador (Nov. 30), Christmas around the World (Dec. 14) and BavaRu New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31). These events are open to everyone in the community and add to the rich cultural vibrancy and inclusive nature of our Downtown.

    By bringing proud socio-cultural practices representing different parts of the globe face to face at a common point, we are afforded the opportunity to learn, share and appreciate each other’s culture. This provides endless opportunities to bridge differences and foster unity in our society. What better place for this to take place than in the Heart of Our City – our Downtown.

    I challenge every resident to help Our Downtown to be the best it can be. With our partners on the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of Our City Committee, we encourage you to contribute to the content of this column and the video series with your comments, questions, ideas, and suggestions by engaging with us on Twitter (@DowntownLeth) using the hashtag #ourdowntown and at www.getinvolvedlethbridge.ca/ourdowntown.


    *This column was published in the Lethbridge Herald on October 22, 2018



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  • BRZ Believes in Downtown Vision

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    A Business Revitalization Zone is a special assessment district established by businesses in an area to jointly raise and administer funds through a designated levy (tax) for various projects and promotional activities within the zone throughout the year that contribute to improving the economic and social vitality of the area.

    The Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) was established in 1987. It is a visionary collective of business leaders who believe that the heart of the city beats in its center core. Since inception, the BRZ has succeeded in adding the necessary vibrancy to make that heart beat with a strong and steady pulse.

    The BRZ serves its members through marketing and implementation of unique programs that promote and highlight the positive aspects of our downtown and by providing public advocacy on important issues affecting the downtown core. Through a close partnership with the City of Lethbridge, the BRZ also administers several key programs on behalf of the City of Lethbridge’s Heart of Our City committee including beautification loans and grants, marketing, public relations, and street maintenance initiatives.

    In large part due to the tireless work of the BRZ, our Downtown is an ideal business environment in a premium centralized location with a unique mix of retailers, restaurants, coffee shops, and professional services. This is abundantly evident as over the past few months a handful of new and innovative businesses have opened their doors in our Downtown including: Hive – a creative co-working space, London Road Media – a modern marketing and advertising strategy company, Mortar and Bricks – a premiere gallery and event space, and Pure Spa – a health-oriented spa destination.

    To learn more about these new businesses and others in our Downtown be sure to check out the BRZ website (www.downtownlethbridge.ca) and social media accounts (@DowntownLeth) as a new video series titled #OurDowntown will highlight the stories behind new businesses in our Downtown. The first video is posted today and features Pure Spa owners Rachel and Jayna who share why they decided to bring holistic healing to Downtown Lethbridge.(click here for video)

    I challenge every resident to help Our Downtown to be the best it can be. With our partners on the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of Our City committee, we encourage you to contribute to the content of this column with us on Twitter (@DowntownLeth) using the hashtag #ourdowntownwith you oncomments, questions, ideas, and suggestions .

    *This column was published on October , 2018


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  • Downtown Events Add to Exciting and VIbrant Downtown

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    Attracting people year round to the downtown has been a central goal of the Heart of Our City Committee over the last decade as people are the key to an exciting, vibrant, and animated downtown environment.

    In 2011, with the belief that increasing the number events and festivals in the downtown core would help drive animation, vibrancy, and overall positive awareness of Lethbridge Downtown, the Heart of Our City Committee launched a new initiative entitled the Heart of Our City Activity Grant. The initiative would provide City of Lethbridge funds to help local organizations host festivals and cultural or community events within the downtown core.

    Over the first eight years, the initiative has proven to be tremendously successful in bringing people from across the entire city downtown on a regular basis, including many who do not live or work near downtown. This serves not only to make downtown more vibrant during the events themselves but also to make a wider portion of the community aware of the unique amenities that exist in the downtown core. Once a citizen has been exposed to all that downtown has to offer, they are more likely to visit downtown for shopping/dining/entertainment on other occasions and are even more likely to consider living downtown or perhaps locating their business downtown.

    In 2018, 23 events were provided grant funding which resulted in 115 days of additional event based activation of the downtown drawing approximately 65,000 visitors into the Downtown. There are several major activity grant-supported events still to come in 2018, and I encourage citizens to get out to these great events and enjoy our downtown. Upcoming events include: Arts Days Sept. 22-30; The Word on The Street Festival Sept. 22; Bright Lights Festival Nov. 16; Queen Scarlet Cinema Sept. 12, Oct. 18, and Nov. 21; and Lunch and Learn Concert Series Oct. 5, Nov. 2, and Dec. 7.

    The 2019 Activity Grant submissions will be open soon with a deadline of Oct. 31, 2018. For more details please stay tuned to www.lethbridge.ca or contact andrew.malcolm@lethbridge.ca.

    I challenge every resident to help Our Downtown to be the best it can be. With our partners on the Downtown BRZ and the Heart of Our City Committee, we encourage you to contribute to the content of this column with us on Twitter (@DowntownLeth) using the hashtag #ourdowntown with your comments, questions, ideas, and suggestions.


    *This column was published on September 10, 2018 in the Lethbridge Herald.



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