Red Deer is believed to be one of the first cities in the province to pursue an “entertainment district” for its downtown. A decision on the district is expected by Red Deer City Council later this month. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Red Deer is believed to be one of the first cities in the province to pursue an “entertainment district” for its downtown. A decision on the district is expected by Red Deer City Council later this month. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Community support for downtown entertainment district in Red Deer

City staff working on entertainment district bylaw

Wheels are in motion to allow downtown customers to enjoy alcoholic beverages on the Ross Street Patio, and local businesses are eagerly awaiting the details.

On Monday, city council unanimously approved a plan put forward by the Downtown Business Association (DBA) to create an entertainment district to allow drinking in public areas outside licensed premises while enjoying music or other entertainment.

City planning staff will now work out the details of an entertainment district bylaw that could be back before council as early as May 24.

“I’m so impressed by the council and their decision to move this along quickly. The hope is that we can enjoy the entertainment district this summer season,” said Brandon Bouchard, DBA chair and Tribe restaurant and bar manager.

He said customers often ask if they can take their drinks out to the Ross Street Patio when there are no outdoor restaurant tables available. For businesses, it will mean more foot traffic and sales.

“Everyone seems excited about it. It’s just all so positive. I don’t see any issues.”

The DBA already has a clean team that looks after the patio and other downtown areas every day, he said.

Related:

Red Deer city council backs entertainment district plan

Red Deer may be the first to take advantage of provincial amendments to the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act to allow drinking in public areas outside licensed premises while enjoying music or other entertainment.

If an entertainment district bylaw was created, the city could issue a special event permit and the rest would be regulated under the bylaw.

Bouchard said the focus right now is on Ross Street Patio, but the bylaw might also apply to festivals and sporting events in the future, which is forward-thinking and would reduce red tape for event organizers.

Scott Robinson, CEO with Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce, said anything that can enhance the downtown business community is a good thing. Ross Street Patio is a defined space for an entertainment district pilot project for pros and cons to be identified, and adjustments made.

“You don’t know what the impact will be until you try, so kudos to the DBA for pushing this forward as an idea, and the city council for considering it and moving it forward to the next level,” Robinson said.

Related:

New legislation would allow public drinking in designated areas in Alberta

Taco Loft owner Michael Ubbing said the downtown is moving in the right direction with the popularity of the Ross Street Patio, which was a huge draw during COVID. Electric scooters are bringing more people downtown, and so will the reopening of the Ross Street Ice Cream Company.

“We started moving over 1,000 more people a week through the Ross Street Patio just with that ice cream shop,” Ubbing said.

An entertainment district also has the potential to bring out people, but it’s such a new concept, he said.

“The initial idea is exciting, but if we don’t iron out the details properly, then it could go one way or another,” Ubbing said.



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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