The Downtown Red Deer market draws in hundreds of shoppers to Little Gaetz Avenue each Wednesday afternoon. (File photo/Advocate staff)

Study hopes to bring more residential development to downtown Red Deer

Calling downtown the “postcard of the city,” Red Deer Land and Economic Development staff hope a new study brings more residents to the city’s core.

After receiving $10,250 from the provincial government last Wednesday, they are pressing forward with the Downtown Residential Attraction study.

The study aims to increase the number of residents living downtown said David Ghoris, land and economic development officer.

“That has a direct correlation on improving the downtown local business environment and increasing the downtown investment,” said Ghoris. “It in turn drives employment and high-job value creation.”

The grant, the Community and Regional Economic Support Program announced funding for four Central Alberta programs and studies.

The study will build upon previous work the department has already done including the Downtown Investment Attraction Plan and the Greater Downtown Action Plan.

“It’s really valuable for changing the demographic downtown to a younger and more vibrant place to live,” said Ghoris. He added that the plan also hopes to generate a strong sense of community.

John Sennema, land and economic development manager, said a lot has been invested in downtown. He and Ghoris pointed to some of the desirable pillars of downtown including three grocery stores, numerous banks and the Donald School of Business.

“What we’re really cognizant of is, Riverlands is going to be the new area, there’s going to be a lot of development there,” said Sennema. “But we don’t want to neglect our historic downtown. Part of us undertaking this study is finding out how we utilize the opportunities we have and create more residents down here to use the shops.

“As much as your downtown is a community and neighbourhood, it’s also the postcard of the city. It’s what people gravitate towards.”

The hope is the plan will compliment the existing plans to “keep downtown vibrant and a great place to visit.”

Sennema pointed to the Greater Downtown Action Plan and its initiatives, which included the cenotaph on Ross Street and Little Gaetz Avenue.

A total of $242,250 in funding through the CARES grant program went to Red Deer-area organizations.

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