Calgary council committee recommends spending provincial dollars on downtown public safety, activation

Calgary city council’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee is recommending the city use money from the province for public safety initiatives and activation of downtown public spaces.

The provincial budget has $5 million allocated for the city’s downtown revitalization strategy, with $4 million going to the city and $1 million going to the Calgary Downtown Association. 

“This provincial investment in downtown revitalization can set the stage for the city and our partners to identify immediate and mid-term actions that will enable all Calgarians to feel and be safe in the greater downtown,” said Coun. Courtney Walcott.

“It will attract investment job creators, innovators to our city and our province, and then just deliver on our shared objectives of economic recovery and diversification.”

The revitalization strategy’s goal is to change downtown from a business district that’s often quiet at night, to a more vibrant area with more amenities, more pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure, better connections to green space and more housing, among other things. 

The city had hoped for a bigger contribution from the province after committing $250 million for its plan to revamp the core

However, Coun. Peter Demong is hopeful there will be more money in the future.

“From the province’s point of view, I understand that they’ve been trying to balance their budget and they did balance it with a surplus,” he said.

“So I am sincerely hoping that going into the next year, going forward, the province will come to the table with a little bit more of a generous funding agreement for us, because the Calgary downtown is a huge economic sector that the province just can’t ignore.”

Demong said it appears the $4 million can be used by council as they “see fit,” and that so far the province is “in agreement” with their plans. 

City council will vote on the plan the committee has recommended at its meeting next week. If it’s approved, Thomas Mahler, the city’s director of downtown strategy, said community services will take the lead on how to best use the money to improve safety.

He points to the Downtown Ambassador Program as a program that “could use more funding immediately.”

“So some of this could be gone out the door fairly quickly,” said Mahler.

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