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  • Downtown Revitalization Bolstered With New Clean and Safe Initiatives & Funding

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    Efforts to continue revitalizing the downtown have been given a boost in confidence from City Council today.

    Voting in favour of funding the Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy (DCSS) until 2022, Councillor Jeff Carlson says this will continue to aid in creating a positive downtown experience for residents, businesses and visitors alike and is an important step in maintaining a vibrant city.

    “The work that everyone involved in the strategy has done will now continue, and will help our community see that our downtown is still a great place to live, work and play,” says Carlson. “We want to build on this work and to continue providing services that benefit our businesses, residents and the city as a whole. I cannot express enough thanks to those members of our community who participated, and their dedication to the Heart of our City.”

    Local business owner and Downtown BRZ board member Hunter Heggie, says bolstering the efforts in addressing the perceptions of downtown will go a long way with business owners and gives him confidence moving into the next few years of business.

    “In making this decision today, City Council has shown they stand behind our businesses and they support what we do,” says Heggie. “The programs that address the safety of downtown do so much to boost the confidence of not just the businesses but those who visit and shop and take in all our downtown has to offer. The downtown business community are a resilient and hardy group and with this positive step forward it just goes to show that when we come together as a community, great things can happen and I thank City Council for showing their support in this way today.”

    Building on the existing initiatives of the DCSS which included the implementation of the Clean Sweep Program and the Diversion Outreach Team, the updated strategy looks to add a number of new initiatives including exploring a different approach to security and outreach in Galt Gardens. .

    “We know downtown is a wonderful place for our residents, businesses and visitors to experience the best our city has to offer,” said Spearman. “Continuing and expanding on the good work the clean and safe strategy has done to date shows we have confidence in our downtown and we support the businesses and people come to experience our city’s centre.”

    City Council voted to fund the proposed strategy for a total of just over $1.6 million. The funding is spread across three years and is being applied to 20 initiatives that focus specifically on creating a safe, clean and welcoming environment in the downtown.

    www.lethbridge.ca/downtowncleanandsafe

  • Downtown a Focus of City Open House

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    Well-known urban planner Brent Toderian has talked extensively about the importance of public engagement in city development. The cities around the world that are trying new and interesting things, are often the ones having authentic and ongoing conversations with their residents.

    An important piece of this engagement is involving the community in conversations about change. Change can be tough for many reasons. Studies have shown that as humans, we prefer the status quo and we tend to fear loss more than we value gain. Having conversations about change happening in our home can be even more difficult. The nature of where we live is very personal – our relationship with our street, neighbourhood and city is one of the most important relationships in our lives.

    We want, and need to have conversations about change for downtown Lethbridge but that means we need your help. Having more discussions with a broader group of people will help us all learning from each other and rethinking what’s possible for our city.

    Arguably, the downtown faces more pressure for change to status quo than anywhere else in Lethbridge. This is why the City of Lethbridge and its many partners and stakeholders are placing so much attention and effort on managing and coordinating this change.

    With this in mind, the City of Lethbridge is hosting an open house on Tuesday, March 12 from 3-7pm, inviting residents to learn about, and engage in the development of our City. The “Get Involved Community Conversation” will feature opportunities to learn about and engage in conversations on a number of projects occurring across the City.

    The downtown will be a major focus of this event featuring many projects that are being planned or are in various stages of completion within the downtown core. This will include the Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy, Cycling Corridors Functional Study, 3rd Avenue Reconstruction, information on grants and incentive programs, and demonstrations on how to use the parking kiosk and the ‘Way to Park’ app. Stop by to see us and you’ll even get a chance to win a preloaded parking card. For more information on this event, visit https://getinvolvedlethbridge.ca.

    Together with the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ), Chamber of Commerce, and Lethbridge Police Service, the City will be continuing with monthly Downtown Safety Education Seminars. The next event will be held on March 19at Casa from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. titled, Drug Crisis –What’s Really Happening. This is the second seminar with the first being held in late February giving an introduction and overview of this new initiative. We were very pleased with the excellent turn out and look forward to the on-going sessions to be held the third Tuesday of each month. More information, links to past sessions and upcoming topics can be found at www.lethbridge.ca/ourdowntown.

    By building broader, better conversations in our city and our downtown we can get past the mentality that we could never do that in our city and start thinking about how we can.

    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 come to events, have conversations and a part of a positive change. To contribute to the content of this column, join the conversation on Twitter (@DowntownLeth) using the hashtag #ourdowntown with yourcomments, questions, ideas and suggestions.


    *This column was featured in the Lethbridge Herald on March 11, 2019.

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  • Many Groups Working to Help Downtown

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    In order to effectively revitalize downtown we need to create a positive, unforgettable downtown experience. To achieve this, we know we need to address the real and/or perceived notion that Downtown is messy and feels unsafe.

    Since the adoption of the Heart of Our City Master Plan in 2007, creating a clean and safe downtown has been a fundamental goal of downtown revitalization. These efforts have seen a number of initiatives implemented such as the Clean Sweep Program, Diversion Outreach Team, Downtown Ambassadors, expansion of Lethbridge Police Services’ downtown presence, and private security in Galt Gardens, to name a few.

    Between 2007 and 2016, by focusing on decreasing negative cues and increasing positive cues the downtown experienced a noticeable improvement in terms of cleanliness and safety. Unfortunately, over the past two years the downtown has faced escalating instances of drug use, theft, erratic behavior, and petty crime related to increases in unemployment, homelessness, and addiction and substance abuse. Every incident, inappropriate act, or negative cue that one observes or is exposed to, regardless of how serious, is extremely impactful to people’s perception of cleanliness and safety in the downtown.

    To combat these negative perceptions and the City of Lethbridge has been listening and collaborating with various stakeholders in and around the downtown including the Heart of Our City Committee, Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone, Chamber of Commerce, Lethbridge Police Service, Fire & Ambulance, Diversion Outreach Team, Social Service Agencies, and businesses and residents to develop a city-led Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy (DCSS).

    The strategy combines components of enforcement, security, outreach, cleaning, promotion, education, and built environment improvements to holistically address the negative perceptions and to make the community feel safe, promote positive downtown activities and events, and inform residents on what the City is doing that builds understanding for the purpose of increasing the vibrancy and revitalization of the downtown. The details of the strategy can be viewed at www.lethbridge.ca/downtown.

    This is not a strategy to attempt to solve the larger underlying issues of the drug crisis such as homelessness, addiction and unemployment. It is a holistic effort to bridge a gap and assist those in the downtown and adjacent areas whose livelihoods are being directly impacted, while the plan to address the larger underlying issues is being developed and implemented through the Community Drug Strategy (www.lethbridge.ca/drugstrategy).

    By investing resources into reestablishing a clean and safe downtown, we will be better positioned to continue with our downtown revitalization efforts to create a positive, unforgettable downtown experience based on welcoming public spaces, program and events, vibrant uses, and marketing and promotions.

    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.



  • Support Downtown, Shop Local

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    “When you buy from a small business, you’re not helping a CEO buy his 3rd home. You’re helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy his team jersey, moms and dads put food on the table. Shop Local”.

    This quote was from a social media post by Dylan’s Burger and Deli, located in our Downtown at 313-5 Street South. This was supplemented with the message “We would not be here without the support of our community. Come downtown and see us. We are here and ready to go. Our downtown needs more support than ever”.

    Downtown has been feeling the impacts related to increasing drug use, homelessness, and the overall perception of safety. Consultation is underway aimed at developing a Community Drug Strategy that can be implemented as soon as possible, with the findings of phase 1 being reported to Council today.

    In the words of local business owner Hunter Heggie, “Lethbridge’s heart is stressed but it isn’t broken. This is our city. Come shop, eat, and use the services in our Downtown”. Whether it’s a hard-to-find vinyl record, a stunning outfit, delicious candy, or the latest in baby merchandise – you can find it right here at home in our Downtown. The viability of our great downtown businesses depends on people continuing to patronize the Downtown – especially during the holiday shopping season (Yes, it’s that time of year, already!)

    There are many community benefits to shopping local, including stimulating the local economy, creating high quality jobs, increasing local investment, creating unique local character, offering superior customer service, fostering cultural diversity, increasing support for community groups, events and charities, and creating vibrancy at the street level which deters negative behaviors.

    Did you know that when you shop at a local business, 70 cents for every dollar spent stays in the local economy, compared to 30 cents with a larger chain store, and less than one cent when buying from an online mega-retailer.

    Mom-and-pop stores have helped shape the identity of downtown as the Heart of Our City for more than 100 years. This holiday season, we invite the residents of Lethbridge to come together and come Downtown to shop local. And by doing so, you’ll be keeping your locally owned and operated businesses and surrounding community healthy, prosperous and vibrant.

    Also be sure to check out the 18th Annual Bright Lights Festival which will kick off the holiday shopping season in Downtown Lethbridge on November 16th in Galt Gardens. Also be sure to check out Christmas at Casa on November 16th and 17th which will feature more than 100 artists and guilds selling one-of-a-kind artisanal wares and artwork. And don’t miss the Galt’s Night at the Museum Shopping event on November 29th.

    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 November 5, 2018.

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