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Downtown development plan being considered by municipal government

The municipal government has been working on ways to revitalize the downtown core of the Border City in recent years.While the purchase of the downtown Synergy Credit Union building for the Community Hub project has been set aside, that process of planning is still ongoing.

The latest step would be the awarding of an RFP by the City to O2 Planning + Design Inc., for the creation of a redevelopment plan for the downtown. If council approves the move, the total cost is pegged at $149,547.60 for the entire project, which would last from December of this year to August-October of next year.

The awarding of the RFP would also be the second stage of the City’s plan to get a handle on the downtown core, after work was done in-house by the City to gather information in the last two years.

However, when the item was brought up for first reading by council on Monday, the awarding of the RFP was postponed to the council meeting on December 12, due to a desire for additional information. Council had questioned the need of the plan, as well as the cost.

“I believe there was some questions about the dollars,” said Lloydminster mayor Gerald Aalbers.

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“Certainly, as a new council, we are being very vigilant about where we spend dollars.”

Aalbers also indicated that he thinks the plan will give the municipal government more information about what direction the downtown core should take.

“I think council is very aware that people want to make sure that if we’re spending money on their behalf, we’re spending good money,” said Aalbers.

“The sense that I get from council, and you can ask the other council members, is that we want to be absolutely crystal clear that we are proceeding in the right steps at the right time.”

There had also been concern from council about the duplication of efforts by the City and Destination Downtown Streetscapes, which is currently undergoing a rebranding study.

When reached for comment on the matter, the chair of Streetscapes, Dawn Hames, said that the work for a downtown development plan would not be duplicating the same work.  She also said that the development of such a plan would be a positive move.

“The downtown is the heart of any city, and increasingly, it struggles against large American companies moving in on the peripheral of the city and pulling vitality away from the core,” said Hames.

“We’ve seen it in other cities, when they work together, they’ve been able to bring that vitality back to the core, and it benefits the whole community.”

The plan will come back before council in four weeks.

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