The need to revitalize Edmonton’s downtown core has become more evident than ever before. As the heart of any city, the downtown area plays a crucial role in fostering economic development, cultural enrichment, and social cohesion.
Edmonton’s downtown core has been a central hub for vibrant small businesses, residents, and visitors alike. However, with the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which emptied office towers and increased social disorder, the Alberta government needs to prioritize investing in downtown Edmonton to ensure the city’s continued resilience.
In the wake of the pandemic, the downtown area has been left in a precarious position. Far too many small businesses closed their doors, employees shifted to remote work, and the core’s economic drive has been severely diminished. According to CBRE, Edmonton has the third highest downtown office vacancy rate in the country at 23.5 per cent.
Over the past few years, major retailers such as Holt Renfrew, Hudson’s Bay, and Sport Chek have all pulled out of downtown Edmonton. A lack of businesses in the downtown core leads to less foot traffic, which has then, in turn, prompted concerns about safety.
We need a provincial government to take decisive action to restore vibrancy to the area so people feel safe and businesses can return to the area. By doing so, we can reverse the cycle and make the downtown core more attractive and accessible to workers, visitors, and residents alike.
“Edmonton’s downtown core has been a central hub for vibrant small businesses, residents, and visitors alike. But over the last few years, the economic downturn has hurt downtown Edmonton. The unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic have emptied office towers and increased social disorder and concerns about safety" Janis Irwin, MLA for Edmonton-Highlands Norwood
- $50 million in capital funding for physical improvements to derelict spaces, address security concerns, and large capital projects to attract people downtown.
- $5 million to support ongoing efforts by the City and the Edmonton Downtown Business Association to attract new businesses into downtown and improve existing spaces.
- $1.5 million to the Chinatown Recovery Fund to support the ongoing work to revitalize Chinatown.
- Addressing crime and safety in downtown Edmonton by restoring fine revenue previously cut by the UCP. This would restore $5 million to the City of Edmonton and allow them to hire more police officers. In addition, the NDP proposes investing in integrated teams to make urban transit safe while addressing poverty, homelessness, mental health, and addictions.
- More affordable housing downtown as part of the NDP’s plan to ensure 40,000 more Albertans have a safe and affordable place to call home in five years by building 8,500 more affordable housing units across Alberta and increasing rental assistance to support 11,000 more homes.
- Continued expansion of post-secondary institutions in downtown Edmonton, including MacEwan University’s new business school.
- Reinstating the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (IDMTC) and the Alberta Investor Tax Credit (AITC) to restore our competitiveness, attract investment, and create jobs in downtown Edmonton. These tax credits helped startups grow and attracted established companies to come to Alberta. However, the cancellation of these tax credits led to companies hiring out of the province and the industry missing out on investment.
“The ideas in this proposal put forward a clear plan for concrete action and investments to bring new life to the heart of our city that will increase vibrancy, restore a sense of safety, and revitalize our downtown. But I know we can’t do it alone. It will take coordination between all levels of government, the business community, the nonprofit sector, and community members” David Shepherd, MLA for Edmonton-City Centre.