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Downtown Red Deer: safe, fun and open for business!

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5 minute read

By Mark Weber

With summer just around the corner, downtown Red Deer is all the more bustling with fun events and even more local businesses to check out. But there are a few misconceptions about the area that persist, and that can even prevent some folks from visiting the city’s increasingly vibrant core. “Downtown Red Deer has an always lot of good things going for it,” explained Amanda Gould, executive director of the Downtown Business Association. “Sometimes, that is outweighed by the perception people have of downtown. “What we need to remember is all that has been happening downtown, what with the murals, the events, the alley upgrades – there are a lot of good things happening. And it’s making it such a great destination to come and visit and to also set up your business,” she added.

“We have seen, over the last year, an increase of 50 new businesses downtown. It’s great news, and the downtown is a great place to go.” As mentioned, however, certain misconceptions about the downtown area persist including that
there is a significant parking problem. “We absolutely do not have a parking issue,” noted Gould. Visitors may not always be able to park directly in front of their destinations, particularly if they are in a facility with lots of other businesses and agencies, but there are typically plenty of places to park nearby if you are prepared for a short jaunt. “If you were to travel just a half a block down the street, or even a block down, you will find there are usually plenty of spaces. We are lucky that our downtown is walkable as well.”

She also mentioned that some residents believe that downtown Red Deer is unsafe. “Again, this is a misperception – it’s not the reality of it,” she said. “We are so lucky as a neighbourhood downtown to have our own RCMP policing unit everyday – they chat with business owners and help them solve any safety issues they may come into contact with,” she said. “There is a team of seven on that unit, and surely that makes downtown one of the safest places to be.”

As to the surge in businesses, Gould noted that reasonable rents attract local entrepreneurs to launch ventures there as well – nicely adding to the growing variety of businesses in the area. It’s yet another plus for Red Deer residents.

In the meantime, one of downtown’s most prominent features – the Ross Street Patio – is really starting to liven up these days with the warmer weather and regularly scheduled musical performances. ‘Music on the Ross Street Patio’ is a free event and is open to all ages. Performances run from 4:30 –7:30 p.m. on show nights. Another annual favourite, the Downtown Market, kicks off on Wednesday, May 25. An accredited farmers’ market, visitors are invited to come down and purchase all their fresh fruits and veggies between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. each Wednesday. Live music on the Ross Street Patio is also a key feature on Wednesdays.

Gould added that Friday, May 27, is the official kick-off to summer on the Ross Street Patio. To celebrate, they have partnered with Sawback Brewing to introduce a limited-edition Ross Street Patio beer which is super exciting, she explained. “Free samples will be available at 5 p.m. that day (May 27). There will also be music and other activities. The special beer, featured at several downtown restaurants, will be available through the summer.

Looking into June, performances on the Patio will run on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. “Businesses are now opening up their patios – and we’ve got the music happening on the Patio, so we are really starting to see a lot more people coming down, spending some time outside and enjoying the live music that we are putting on,” she said.

For more about the Downtown Business Association and all that is planned for the Ross Street Patio, find them on Facebook or visit www.downtownreddeer.com.

Born and raised in Red Deer, Mark Weber is an award-winning freelance writer who is committed to the community. He worked as a reporter for the Red Deer Express for 18 years including six years as co-editor. During that time, he mainly covered arts and entertainment plus a spectrum of areas from city news and health stories to business profiles and human interest features. Mark also spent a year working for the regional publication Town and Country in northern Alberta, along with stints at the Ponoka News and the Stettler Independent. He’s thrilled to be a Todayville contributor, as it allows him many more opportunities to continue to focus on the city and community he not only has a passion for, but calls home as well.

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Business

Taxpayers Federation calls for transparency on World Cup costs

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Carson Binda 

“Toronto taxpayers can’t afford to pay for soccer games that are almost a hundred million dollars over budget already”

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim to release updated cost estimates for the FIFA World Cup games scheduled for 2026. The CTF is also warning Toronto taxpayers that FIFA bills are spiralling in that city.

“Vancouver taxpayers deserve accountability when hundreds of millions are on the line,” said Carson Binda, British Columbia Director for the CTF. “Costs have ballooned in Toronto and Vancouver needs to be honest with its taxpayers about how much the soccer games are going to cost.”

Recent financial estimates have blown past the initial budget in Toronto. In 2022, Toronto expected the total cost of hosting world cup games would be $290 million. That number has now ballooned by 31 per cent to $380 million.

“Toronto taxpayers can’t afford to pay for soccer games that are almost a hundred million dollars over budget already,” Binda said. “That’s unacceptable when taxpayers are getting clobbered with higher taxes.”

Currently, the cost to host seven games in Vancouver is up to $260 million, however the provincial and municipal governments have consistently failed to produce updated cost estimates.

“What are Premier David Eby and Mayor Ken Sim hiding?” Binda said. “They need to stop hiding the numbers and tell taxpayers how much these soccer games are going to cost us.”

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Economy

Canada’s struggling private sector—a tale of two cities

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From the Fraser Institute

By Jason Clemens and Joel Emes

” the private sector must generate the income used to pay for government bureaucrats and government programs. When commercial centres have lower median employment incomes than capital cities, the private sector may be in real distress. “

According to almost every indicator including economic growth, business investment, entrepreneurship, and the employment and unemployment rates, Canada’s private sector is struggling.

A novel way to think about the sorry state of the private sector is to compare income levels in “commercial” cities (basically, cities with little to no provincial or federal government activity and largely characterized by private business activity) with income levels in capital cities, which are dominated by government.

Since the beginning of COVID (February 2020) to June 2023, government-sector job growth in Canada was 11.8 per cent compared to just 3.3 per cent for the private sector (including the self-employed). Put differently, the government sector is booming while the private sector is anemic.

The marked growth in employment in the government sector compared to the private sector is also important because of the wage premiums paid in the government. A 2023 study using data from Statistics Canada for 2021 (the latest year of available data at the time), found that—after controlling for factors such as sex, age, marital status, education, tenure, industry, occupation and location—government workers (federal, provincial and local) enjoyed an 8.5 per cent wage premium over their private-sector counterparts. And this wage gap does not include the more generous pensions typically enjoyed by government workers, their earlier retirement, and lower rates of job loss (i.e. greater job security).

According to a separate recent study, five of the 10 provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec and New Brunswick) have a distinct commercial centre other than the capital city, and in all five provinces in 2019 (pre-pandemic) the median employment income in the capital city exceeded that of the commercial centre, sometimes by a wide margin. For example, the median employment income in Quebec City was $41,290 compared to $36,660 in Montreal. (The study used median income instead of average income to control for the effect of a small percentage of very high-income earners that can influence the average income for a city.)

Remember, the private sector must generate the income used to pay for government bureaucrats and government programs. When commercial centres have lower median employment incomes than capital cities, the private sector may be in real distress.

Equally as telling is the comparison with the United States. Twenty-three U.S. states have a capital that’s distinct from their main commercial centre, but among that group, only five (North Dakota, Louisiana, Wisconsin, Ohio and Kentucky) had capital cities that clearly had higher levels of median employment income compared to the main commercial centre in the state. This is not to say the U.S. doesn’t have similar problems in its private sector, but its commercial centres generate higher median employment incomes than the capital cities in their states, indicating a potentially better functioning private sector within the state.

Many indicators in Canada are flashing red alerts regarding the health of the economy. The comparative strength of our capital cities compared to commercial centres in generating employment income is yet another sign that more attention and policy reforms are needed to reinvigorate our private sector, which ultimately pays for the government sector.

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