Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange is being urged to reinstate annual downtown levy payments from provincial buildings to help revitalize the city centre.
In 2019, Red Deer’s Downtown Business Association was told that downtown provincial buildings would no longer be paying the Business Improvement Area tax that’s collected annually from core-area businesses to help the DBA with marketing the downtown.
On Friday, DBA board chair, Brandon Bouchard, and the DBA’s executive-director Amanda Gould, met with Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange to discuss reinstating the BIA business levy from downtown provincial buildings after a two-year absence.
When provincial buildings stopped contributing to the downtown levy it resulted in a 60 per cent budget drop and a cut in DBA programs and services, along with a 25 per cent reduction in DBA staff and reduced salaries.
Downtown Business Association officials say this happened “during the height of COVID, when the downtown needed DBA support more than ever.”
Even though this change was imposed throughout Alberta, LaGrange was told that Red Deer was by far the most affected because of how many provincial buildings fall within the Business Improvement Area.
“We are asking for this decision to be overturned and for the province to reinstate the regulation with immediate effect so provincial buildings contribute to the DBA activities again. With such a large number of provincial buildings employing a vast number of people in downtown Red Deer, they are all benefitting from the vibrancy we are working so hard to deliver but are not contributing like every other business has to,” Gould said.
She feels LaGrange and her team, “were very keen to help get the DBA back on track, understanding that a vibrant city has a thriving downtown.”
But the MLA asked for two weeks to investigate and speak with other ministerial departments.
The Downtown Business Association has existed for over 35 years and organizes many downtown events, including the Wednesday Market, Ross Street Patio entertainment, and the recent launch of the Entertainment District on the Ross Street Patio — the first in Alberta.
The DBA offers subsidies to businesses through a façade and exterior business improvement grant and a Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design subsidy.
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