City council is doubling down on efforts to help downtown Red Deer thrive and grow.
Besides banning future temporary care facilities — such as shelters or addiction treatment centres — from locating in the downtown core, council gave initial approval on Monday to preserving large-scale offices in the heart of the city and relaxing parking requirements for multi-family residences.
Planning manager Emily Damberger told council that a key factor for a healthy downtown is long-term residential activity and economic development.
Last month, council discussed banning future shelters from the downtown core. After Monday’s public hearing, councillors gave final approval to this amendment.
Coun. Lawrence Lee tried to narrow the window (to 60 days from six months) on when an existing facility could close and reopen and still be considered grandfathered under the old rules.
But he declined to press his point after being told it would require another public hearing and could potentially be overruled by the Municipal Government Act.
Under the new city rules, no temporary care facilities can now locate along Little Gaetz Avenue from 46th Street to the south to 52nd Street to the north. They are also banned from locating along Ross Street, from the east corner of 49th Avenue to the old train station to the west.
Damberger also asked city council to keep larger office buildings — the size of City Hall at more than 50,000 square feet — in the downtown.
She suggested medium-sized offices can move in along the Gaetz Avenue traffic corridors and several district commercial areas, such as Southpointe Junction. And only small offices (less than 10,000 square feet) can crop up in neighbourhood commercial strips.
Council unanimously approved first reading of this amendment.
Coun. Frank Wong, who had voiced concerns about offices moving out of the downtown, said he’s interested in hearing what the public thinks at a hearing in a month’s time.
Wong added that he agrees with large office complexes remaining in the downtown, and small offices being allowed in neighbourhood commercial strips.
Damberger also asked council to reduce parking requirements for multi-family buildings in the downtown to one off-street stall per unit instead of one stall per bedroom, plus a visitor parking space.
This was recommended by a 2018 study on how to encourage increased residential development in the downtown, prepared for the city and the Downtown Business Association.
Council unanimously approved first reading of the amendment after hearing there are 1,073 on-street parking stalls in the greater downtown area and 2,083 off-street parking stalls — not including private parking lots — that could be used by residents and visitors.