A successful summer season at the Ross Street Patio was a big help for Red Deer businesses, says the Downtown Business Association.
Red Deer city council passed a motion in June to transform the patio into an entertainment district, which allows adults to consume alcohol at the picnic tables and benches.
Amanda Gould, Red Deer DBA executive director, said businesses benefitted greatly from the entertainment district designation.
“It was great to see council really embraced (the idea of an entertainment district),” Gould said.
“Being the first city (in Alberta) to actually do it helps put Red Deer on the map. When I’ve spoken to the businesses down there, they’ve all increased sales since they’ve been able to serve on the patio. One business actually said they’ve seen an increase of about 30 per cent on busy weekends. That’s really impressive.”
Even businesses that aren’t located along the Ross Street Patio are benefitting from the entertainment district designation, said Gould.
“There are more people down here, more people circulating and going into the other businesses or seeing businesses that might be closed and plan to come back another day,” she said.
Major events also helped bring people downtown, Gould said, noting the streets were the busiest it’s been in “a good few years” during CentreFest, which was held in conjunction with the Meet the Street Festival during the first weekend of September.
“Businesses did well. I remember Ross Street Ice Cream, because it was just a hot weekend, they were just slammed with people from the minute they opened to the minute they closed. It was just absolutely brilliant,” she said.
E-scooters were introduced to the City of Red Deer last summer and were “transformative” for the downtown, said Gould.
“That is still very much the case. We see so many people scootering about and it’s people you don’t expect. Yes, you see the younger generation doing it, but you also see business people on it,” she said.
“People love the scooters and aren’t afraid to use them. They’ve really embraced them as a downtown mode of transport.”
The DBA is planning to host fewer events on Ross Street Patio during the fall and winter, but the events they do hold will be bigger than they were last year, said Gould.
“We’ll probably be doing the ice sculptures again – they were a huge hit last year. We’re just about to start brainstorming all of the activities we’ll have on the winter patio.”