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Downtown Recovery Coalition: advocating for a safe and vibrant downtown Edmonton for all

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About the Downtown
Recovery
Coalition

We all have different reasons for caring about downtown Edmonton, but we are united in our passion for this city, and our belief that together as a community we can revitalize the core of our city.

Our goal is to use our collective experience, expertise, and voice to help build a vibrant & thriving downtown that is an engine of Edmonton’s economy and a welcoming place for all.

The Downtown Recovery Coalition is led by a Steering Committee which represents a cross-section of the downtown community, including community groups, non-profit, and business leaders. Variously, our Steering Committee members work downtown, live downtown, provide services downtown and do business downtown.

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History ​

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History

In 2016, the Downtown Vibrancy Task Force formed organically in the community, when 16 people gathered to work on integrating the new arena downtown, identifying friction points with businesses, and developing bike lanes downtown. They functioned as an advocacy group for these projects and dissolved as a group once those goals were met.

The Downtown Recovery Coalition developed during the pandemic with some of the same people, and a new mission to help facilitate economic growth and vitality downtown as we recover from the impacts of the last several years.

The Downtown Recovery Coalition is focused on three pillars which together will support vibrancy and vitality in the heart of our city:

Safety and Security

Ensuring that people feel safe when they are downtown is critical. Physical intimidation, abusive behaviour, and all forms of violence are unacceptable anywhere, and cannot be allowed downtown. Specific steps must be taken by the Edmonton Police Service, City Council and other entities to enhance personal safety and security downtown if we’re to have any chance of getting this right.

Cleanliness and Infrastructure

Much of the physical infrastructure of downtown is in disrepair. Sidewalks are crumbling, holes go unfilled, trees are damaged, construction barriers abound, and many sidewalks are littered with garbage. As a community we must to better to create and maintain welcoming infrastructure that makes our downtown the sort of place you’d like to spend time.

Transformational 
Projects

Projects that transform our downtown landscape can bring new people, new energy and new ideas to our downtown. Building a downtown arena and entertainment district, a bike lane network, and expanded LRT access are all transformational projects that reimagined how our downtown can be used. What are the next generation of such projects, and how might they support the post-pandemic recovery of downtown Edmonton?
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Downtown Edmonton

Downtown Edmonton is the beating heart of our city. It is a centre for business, finance and professional services, an exciting entertainment district, and the seat of government for both the Alberta Legislature and Edmonton City Hall. It is home to 13,000 people and a workplace for 60,000. Less than 1% of the geographic area of Edmonton is downtown, but the land there comprises 10% of the municipal tax base.

Any downtown has an outsized role in shaping how a city is perceived by locals and visitors alike. It is critical that the issues facing downtown Edmonton area are addressed in a holistic and comprehensive way so that all Edmontonians feel safe, secure and proud to be a part of the action when they visit downtown.

Downtown Edmonton is served by a Business Improvement Area (the Edmonton Downtown Business Association), and you can learn more about all of the best things to do, see, and eat in Downtown as well as all of the great work that the EDBA is doing at edmontondowntown.com

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Specific Actions

Here are the specific asks that we have identified as priorities for all three levels of government & the Edmonton Police Service:
Short Term (90 day sprint)

Better patrols and security enforcement at LRT station entrances

We’ve heard repeatedly, loud and clear, that students, workers, and visitors don’t feel safe entering or exiting the LRT system downtown when large groups block the stairways while engaging in anti-social behaviours such as smoking, open illicit drug use, and verbal harassment and intimidation. Efforts to date to improve safety in the transit system have not been sufficient to solve this problem.

More Community & Solution-oriented Policing

A more visible community policing presence downtown would contribute to general safety and security for all downtown users and visitors. Having more officers who are proactive in their patrols on foot and on bikes, who are committed to partnering with the downtown community and are experienced with trauma-informed interactions and conflict de-escalation, can make a big difference in ensuring our public spaces and businesses are safe for everyone.

Repair crumbling infrastructure

We need to ensure that sidewalks and roads are clean and in good repair and that planters, benches, trees, garbage cans and other small pieces of public infrastructure are regularly maintained so that, on the whole, the appearance of our downtown is clean and welcoming.

Accelerated removal of construction material

There often appears to be no sense of urgency for construction teams downtown to remove and minimize the blockades and barriers they set up. A principle of causing the minimum disruption to the orderly flow of pedestrians and traffic should be implemented and enforced.

Medium Term

Crisis diversion response times

Several social agencies provide valuable crisis diversion services downtown, helping and supporting people in crisis to access the services they need. More resources are needed to ensure these teams have the staff and resources to respond in a timely manner when called upon.

Transitional spaces for those struggling with addictions on 
the street

As a community, if we seek to welcome and support people on a journey out of homelessness and addiction, we need to provide them with transitional housing and shelter options to bridge the gap from homelessness to permanent housing. All orders of government must work together to ensure those in Edmonton who need this support can access it.

Long Term

Long-term recovery spaces

Long term recovery spaces for people struggling with addictions and homelessness are needed as part of the mix of supports and services that will provide all Edmontonians an opportunity to live with dignity and a roof over their head.

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The DRC is working with and will continue working with the relevant decision makers to make progress on each objective, but we would also love to hear input from the community. What do you think can be done to revitalize our downtown? Let’s work together to raise awareness of issues and, as a community, get our downtown back to where we all know it needs to be.
DRC Successes

Council votes in favor of amending Bylaw 8353

City Council voted 9-3 in favor of amending Bylaw 8353 Conduct of Transit Passengers Bylaw to prohibit loitering and using a controlled substance while on Trans-it Property.

Council passed the Community and Safety Well Being Strategy

City Council passed the Community and Safety Well-Being Strategy including an additional $300K in funding for Chinatown and $4M to social support services in the core

300+ People Attend in City Council Discussions

May 24th kicked off the start of the Safety discussions at City Council and the DRC, together with the Chinatown and Alberta Avenue community were able to activate ~300+ people to attend in person and online.

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Steering Committee

Alex Hryciw 
Chair, Downtown Recovery Coalition
Director of Strategy, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

Anand Pye
Vice Chair, Downtown Recovery Coalition
Executive Director, NAIOP, Commercial Real Estate Development Association

Cheryll Watson
Secretary-Treasurer, Downtown Recovery Coalition
Chief Connector, STEM Collegiate

Annemarie Petrov
President & CEO, Winspear Centre

Aziz Bootwala
Sr. Principal, Vice President-Business Development, Kasian Architecture

Bill Blais
President & CEO, McLab Development Group

Chad Helm
Founder, The Helm

Chris Buyze
President, Downtown Edmonton Community League

Dave Young
Executive Vice President, CBRE Edmonton

Devin Pope
Property Manager, The Gather Co.

Henry Edgar
Partner, EDGAR Development

Jan Fox
Executive Director, REACH Edmonton

Jenny Adams
President, The Adams Agency

Jim Brown
Sherrick Management

Kalen Anderson
Executive Director, Urban Development Institute – Edmonton Metro

Kevin McKee
Chief Executive Officer, Pangman Development Corp.

Lisa Baroldi
President and CEO, BOMA Edmonton

Matina Kalcounis-Rueppell
Interim College Dean and Vice Provost, University of Alberta

Mike Saunders
Senior Vice President, Qualico Properties

Pilar Martinez
CEO, Edmonton Public Library 

Puneeta McBryan
Executive Director, Downtown Business Association

Robert Black
Partner, MLT Aikins

Robert Seidel
National Managing Partner, DLA Piper (Canada) LLP

Sean Kirk
General Manager, Edmonton City Centre

Supporters

EDBA
PANGMAN
NAIOP
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Qualico Properties
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STEM Collegiate
UDI
CTC Logo
ECC
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ECoC
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CBRE
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EDGAR
BOMA
ENBRIDGE
MACLAB
WITTEN
The Downtown Recovery Coalition respectfully acknowledges that we are situated on Treaty 6 territory, the traditional lands of diverse Indigenous Peoples—First Nations, Métis, and Inuit—who have lived on, cared for, and travelled this land for centuries. The cultures and histories of the Indigenous Peoples of this land continue to enrich our community and help us go forward in truth and collaboration on our reconciliation journey.