Reviving the Heart of our City

In the last seven years, over $4.4 billion has been invested in our downtown. Yet with the pandemic dramatically reducing activity and events downtown, businesses are struggling more than ever.  We need to get workers back downtown, government and private sector. It is also an enormous tax base for the rest of the city. 

Michael Oshry is supportive of the City’s Downtown Vibrancy Strategy, a two year plan to help revitalize downtown, passed in June. The strategy will provide $5 million in funding for a range of programs. It provides a good foundation and we need to build on it.

As Mayor, Michal Oshry will significantly expand on this strategy with his four part Downtown Renewal Plan:

 

  • Programming, Programming, Programming


    • As we move out of the pandemic, let’s celebrate the fall and 2022 with non-stop activity in our core. That means fully using and expanding our public spaces downtown for festivals, events, and other purposes
    • As Mayor, Michael Oshry will make it easier for all events to take place downtown and ensure we’re activating spaces like Churchill Square as much as possible
    • People also need to be able to access downtown with all modes of travel, including vehicles, LRT, buses, walking, and biking. Michael Oshry will be obsessive about building and maintaining strong transportation links downtown from multi-use trails to accessible streets

 

  • Better Development, Smarter Construction

 

    • For years downtown has felt inaccessible and frustrating to visit because of non-stop construction
    • Michael Oshry will prioritize finishing current construction as quickly as possible and being more precise with projects moving forward
    • As Mayor, Michael Oshry will implement an expedited permit scheme for downtown developments
    • He will also change existing zoning bylaws to facilitate the repurposing of existing buildings downtown. Repurposing buildings allows owners to adapt more quickly, lower the need for new construction, and ensure we keep downtown full and bustling

 

  • Public Safety & Social Supports

 

    • People need to feel safe downtown, whether they are going to work or having dinner with friends. Public safety can’t and doesn’t need to come at the expense of criminalizing our vulnerable populations, who in large part live downtown
    • Michael Oshry will work with community partners, the Edmonton Police Service, and other agencies to expand the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET) program and the Edmonton Police Service’s Human-centred Engagement Liaison Partnership (HELP) Units
    • NET and HELP link police officers, social workers, and agencies directly with community groups and businesses to provide more on street presence and a straighter line to support for vulnerable people
    • These programs are effective homegrown strategies that will be turbocharged under Michael Oshry. This plan will provide the City with around-the-clock teams who pull out all the stops to ensure rough sleepers can overcome any and all barriers they face to resolving their homelessness
    • The goal of Oshry’s Downtown Outreach & Safety Plan will be to meet and provide services for vulnerable populations where they are at while ensuring that all Edmontonians gathering downtown feel safe and welcome

 

  • Private Sector Leading the Way

 

    • During the pandemic, the City spent hundreds of millions of dollars in “relief initiatives” downtown, including construction grants. Providing businesses with relief during the pandemic was important, but we don’t need to throw tons of public dollars at our downtown for it to succeed. Many of the ideas listed above are about allowing more room for the private sector to flourish
    • Michael Oshry will support the continued use of expanded patios, converting streets into space for businesses and/or events, and expanding free wifi downtown
    • Ultimately, we need to work with the private sector to revitalize downtown and allow businesses to lead the way. Michael Oshry is the Mayor for that job

It’s clear that Edmontonians want a bustling and energetic downtown. We were building momentum towards that goal but the pandemic has stalled us again. With the right mix of private partnerships and public support, Michael Oshry believes we can create a bustling and energetic downtown, and soon. Downtown has the space for events, learning, culture, and celebration already.  

Michael Oshry Quote:

“It is vital that we have a vibrant and safe downtown.  Dynamic cities have that. It is table stakes.  We need to get our downtown back, to create a safe place that people want to visit and a place to live and work in.  We need to get people back downtown, private sector and government workers, whether they drive, take transit or any other mode of transportation.  There is no one challenge but a myriad of challenges that we need to get right.  I commit to getting this done.”