The Red Deer Downtown Business Association aims to bring 250 events to the city’s core in 2023 and is continuing to lobby for a permanent Ross Street Patio. (Advocate file photo).

The Red Deer Downtown Business Association aims to bring 250 events to the city’s core in 2023 and is continuing to lobby for a permanent Ross Street Patio. (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer DBA aims to bring 250 special events to the downtown in 2023

The downtown business levy is increasing by almost 5 per cent

Red Deer city council heard 2022 was a good year for the downtown, with the addition of 50 new businesses and the start of the successful Entertainment District.

DBA board chair Brandon Bouchard told city council that Red Deer’s Downtown Business Association is planning 250 special events in the city’s core next year — a sizable increase from the 170 concerts, farmer’s markets and theme days held in previous years.

To help fund these additional events, Red Deer’s downtown business levy is set to increase by nearly five per cent after a three-year freeze. The 2023 levy will be $205 — up from $195.25 in 2022.

The 4.9 per cent increase was approved by Red Deer city council on Monday, as part of the DBA’s budget. It will bring in an additional $12,500 to the Downtown Business Association.

This revenue boost is not only needed for the slate of activities planned for 2023 but also to cover inflationary costs and the loss of provincial money, said Bouchard. In 2019, Red Deer’s provincial building stopped paying a Business Improvement tax collected annually from core-area businesses to help the DBA with marketing the downtown. This resulted in about a $200,000 loss, or 40 per cent budget reduction.

In 2023, the DBA’s overall budget will be $752,000, with about $264, 500 generated by the levy and $24,500 drawn from reserves and the balance generated from external contracts.

Bouchard said more money will be allotted in 2023 to two of the DBA’s most popular programs: Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design and Facade and Shopfront Improvement subsidies. Red Deer city council heard that both programs regularly reach capacity so this will allow for more business participation.

Despite some public concerns about social problems at the city’s core, many local entrepreneurs are seeing the downtown as a great place to open a business, said the DBA’s executive-director Amanda Gould. She noted at least 50 new businesses opened their doors in 2022, including the Runaway Cafe, Everybody’s Boutique, Red Deer Floral, and Stardust Beauty and

Bouchard recently learned from a commercial realtor that downtown Red Deer has fewer vacancies than the city’s north and south hill areas, as well as lower commercial rents.

To help drive even more foot traffic through the downtown, the DBA’s Host It! Program is continuing to assist business that wishes to launch a public event with free equipment loans and help navigating the city’s permitting process.

The DBA continues to advocate for a permanent Ross Street Patio, which is now remaining open all winter under a pilot program. When asked if there’s something else city council could do to help the DBA’s efforts to bring people downtown, the response was to allow the patio to run year-round.

Red Deer City Council

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