City of Red Deer rolls out financial incentives to boost downtown

City of Red Deer rolls out financial incentives to boost downtown

Five different rebates or grants available for building upgrades and other downtown investments

The City of Red Deer has rolled out financial incentives that could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to help give the downtown a boost.

Five different incentive rebates or grants were announced on Monday to encourage beautification and investment in the city’s core.

The incentives are the result of city council’s $850,000 two-year commitment to boost economic development that was approved in the last budget, said planning services director Tara Lodewyk.

“These programs show our commitment to the downtown,” said Lodewyk. “We understand in today’s economic climate that people need some extra help.”

City staff developed the program with input from consultants, who specialize in ways to attract visitors and investment into downtowns.

“We recognize that downtowns are the heart of our cities and play a vital role as our communities’ business, administrative, and cultural centres,” said Lodewyk.

Under the programs, rebates are available for businesses looking to spruce up their facades and signs or undertake rev-ovations.

Up to $20,000 in funding is available for a single facade, and $30,000 for two facades. Up to $10,000 is available for security improvements using crime prevention through environmental design principles.

Another rebate — which can be worth up to $20,000 — helps businesses recover some of the cost of undertaking environmental site assessments.

To encourage the demolition of vacant and derelict properties, a rebate can be applied for that will cover some of those costs.

Half the cost, up to $25,000, is available.

Up to $20,000 is available to upgrade or replace utility connections and $25,000 for the demolition of vacant or derelict properties.

The city has long seen the value of mixing residential and commercial in the downtown to help create a vibrant community. A residential and mixed use development grant is designed to promote the development of multi-family or mixed-use properties while reducing costs for potential investors.

Grants are based on the value of construction: $50,000 for a $1 million project, $150,000 up to a $4 million project and $250,000 for a project valued at more than $4 million.

Housewarmings owner Catherine Robb wished the programs had come along a little sooner. She has just finished spending tens of thousands on renovations and improvements, including nearly $30,000 on upgrading utilities, which would likely have been eligible for a rebate.

“It would have helped hugely. I wouldn’t be in so much debt now,” said Robb, who moved her business to the south side of Ross Street from the north last summer.

“Anyone whose doing something like this now, this is pretty amazing,” she said.

However, the program does not help struggling merchants who do not own their own buildings.

“It will be up to the landlords on whether or not they feel like doing it,” she added.

Robb said she has some more work she would like to do and hopes to apply for help under the city’s initiative. She expects others will be inspired to upgrade.

“I can’t see how it can’t. Building prices are low right now, and if you can get these kinds of grants to help fix up these buildings I don’t know what else you could do to give people an incentive except, of course, lower the business tax,” she said with a laugh.

Downtown Business Association executive director Amanda Gould is pleased with what the city has proposed.

“I’m really hopeful there will be some uptake. They are great programs and so much needed for downtown.”

Gould said the business association worked with the city on the program to help businesses improve their security and upgrade their facades. The association has similar initiatives although with a smaller budget.

Financial help for upgrading utilities could also prove a huge help for business owners looking to renovate, she said. The cost of upgrading utilities can be a significant and unexpected cost, she said.

“I think the city recognizing the risks and costs associated with development in the financial climate we’re in really does show they’re trying to spur on development.”

Property owners and developers can apply under all five programs for a single property.

The first applications will be taken starting on Saturday and running until March 15. A second application window is expected to be open July 1 to Aug. 1.

The rebate and grant roll-out is just the latest of a number of efforts the city has embraced to improve the vibrancy of the downtown. Last November, council approved a grant to cover half the road closure costs — to a maximum of $2,500 — for organizations running downtown events.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


City of Red Deer rolls out financial incentives to boost downtown

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

A recent investigation by the RCMP Central Alberta District Crime Reduction Unit led to the arrests of 24 people. (Contributed photo)
24 people arrested following RCMP investigation in central Alberta

Twenty-four people are facing a combined 235 charges following an investigation by… Continue reading

Photo from Town of Sylvan Lake Facebook page
Sylvan Lake communities band together on development plan

Sylvan Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan expected to be approved next spring

Tribe restaurant owner Paul Harris, left, consults with manager Brandon Bouchard about how to proceed under pandemic rules that make it hard for eateries to be profitable. (Contributed photo).
New pandemic rules deemed workable for Red Deer retailers

Stricter COVID-19 reduction measures introduced in lead-up to Christmas

Quentin Lee Strawberry
Man accused in 2019 Red Deer murder will stay behind bars

Quentin Strawberry going to trial next year on second-degree murder charge

In this July 1, 2020, photo, Salt Lake Tribune data columnist and Utah Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen poses for a photo. Larsen is a sports writer, but with much of that world sidelined during the pandemic he's been digging into coronavirus data and its sobering implications. So when he found himself with a cache of spare change, partially from his childhood piggy bank, he knew plenty of people could use it. (Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)
Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid

Tweet on spare change generates big money for virus aid

FILE - In this Wednesday, March 18, 2020 file photo, a view of a 'Matterhorn-Express' gondola lift in front of Matterhorn mountain in the Zermatt ski resort, in Zermatt, Switzerland. Restrictions to slow the curve of coronavirus infections have kept ski lifts closed in Italy, France, Germany and Austria, as well as countries further east. But skiers are already heading to mountains in Switzerland, drawing an envious gaze from ski industry and local officials in mountain regions elsewhere on the continent who lost most of last season due to the virus. (Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP, File)
As season nears, Europe ponders skiing during pandemic

As season nears, Europe ponders skiing during pandemic

FILE - In this Dec. 10, 2015 file photo, actor John Boyega, right, pose with Star Wars characters during the Japan Premiere of their latest film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in Tokyo. Boyega stars in Steve McQueen’s “Red White and Blue,” the third film in the director’s anthology of West Indian life in London from the ‘60s through the ’80s. The five-film series will debut Dec. 4. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
John Boyega isn’t going to ‘take the money and shush’

John Boyega isn’t going to ‘take the money and shush’

The Hockley Motel in Mono, Ont., is shown in this undated handout photo. An Ontario motel that served as a backdrop for the beloved CBC sitcom "Schitt's Creek" is up for sale. The Hockley Motel in Mono, about an hour's drive northwest of Toronto, was listed for $2 million today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Colliers International
Calling all eccentric millionaires: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel up for sale for $2 million

Calling all eccentric millionaires: ‘Schitt’s Creek’ motel up for sale for $2 million

RCMP Cpl. Joanie Sidhu speaks about a seizure of illegal drugs, cash and a firearm during a news conference in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020. The B.C. Coroners Service says its latest data on illicit drug toxicity deaths show five people are dying every day in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Five people dying every day from toxic illicit drugs in B.C.: Coroner

Five people dying every day from toxic illicit drugs in B.C.: Coroner

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at B.C. campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Heidi Illingworth, federal ombudsman for victims of crime, takes part in an interview at her office in Ottawa on January 10, 2019. Canada's watchdog for crime victims is calling on Parliament to overhaul the victims' bill of rights, saying the five-year-old legislation has fallen "far short" of delivering on its promise. Federal ombudsman Heidi Illingworth says in a report that rules meant to amplify victims' voices in the justice system have failed to make them heard following "sporadic" implementation of a regime that needs more teeth, clarity and public awareness. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Federal watchdog says victims-rights regime needs overhaul after falling ‘far short’

Federal watchdog says victims-rights regime needs overhaul after falling ‘far short’

Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen takes part in a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. His department would likely take the lead in creating a federally funded child-care system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals to unveil first step on child-care plan in economic update, sources say

Liberals to unveil first step on child-care plan in economic update, sources say

Most Read