Have you been downtown lately?
Take a walk along Ross Street from 47th Avenue to 51st Avenue and see the major progress that has been made in our downtown! While you’re at it walk down Little Gaetz in either direction as well. There have been some major enhancements made in the last few years!
Recently I was playing around with Google Street View and was surprised to find that the Google-Car that photographs the streets to make a 3D map hasn’t gone down little Gaetz since 2009! So when I clicked on Gaetz Avenue I could literally see back in time before all the major upgrades were put in. If you’re interested, I made a tour video and posted it to my YouTube page Wieler4RD.
After making that discovery I decided to peruse the Greater Downtown Action Plan on the city’s webpage. I found the plan to be a very innovative and progressive with clear goals and action steps to improve the quality of life in our city and spur business development.
But progress is a direction and nothing is done overnight. The continued growth of our downtown is a game of chicken and egg. It will take continued leadership from visionary policy makers, it will take the best of our entrepreneurial virtue and it will require the continued passion of our proud citizens to advance in this direction.
I have to send out a big thank you to all the business owners who are redeveloping their properties and enhancing the whole feel of our downtown. There is a very clear message communicated to the public when a business enhances its store front and upgrades its street appeal. The clear message is: progress!
The evidence of progress is all around the downtown from the Plaza W renovation, the renovation of Budget Car Rental and the facelift to Artistry In Gold to the expansions of Red Deer Hot Yoga, Sunworks, Housewarmings and Fratters Venue. An extremely popular attraction is the Cool Beans Bus Cafe, which occupies a previous brownfield site! Then there is the 2014 business of the year, Collegiate Sports Medicine, also proudly downtown. This is progress!
Our downtown is rebounding and we are starting to see a snowball effect. If the next 10 years are anything like the last 10 years I suspect Red Deer’s downtown will be a cultural hub and a commercial powerhouse that Red Deerians will be proud of! This is progress!
On that note, unfortunately in 2013, out of the 497 businesses downtown there were 65 businesses that chose to leave the downtown. However, there were 74 new businesses that arrived. So there is net growth as evidenced by the numbers provided by the DBA. This is progress!
We are already seeing the foundations being laid for our Riverlands district, the upgraded intersection at Ross and Taylor makes pedestrian access possible and safe. The power lines that will supply electricity to the whole area are being upgraded as we speak. Private businesses are receiving these cues well and are making plans to grow and develop. This is progress!
Our downtown is safer by many measures. More street lights brighten everything up sending cues to people that our downtown is safe. Crosswalks are upgraded making them more secure for pedestrians. The point-in-time numbers are in and there were 50 per cent fewer street involved people counted than before; our city’s visionary focus on homefullness is working! This is progress!
Families are now flocking downtown in the summertime to enjoy the landmark Bluegrass Spray Park. There are more events like Centrefest, the downtown farmers market, Nuit Blanche, the bike race and the North Pole Stroll enhancing our culture. The Ross Street Patio is a huge success, drawing old and young alike to enjoy our downtown. This is progress!
There is more to come! Our city is blossoming! These are exciting times!
Downtown business owner