Looking to revitalize Lloydminster's downtown

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April 2, 2015 8:15 AM

Alex Chippin Photo  Project consultant Naren Garg, left, and City of Lloydminster general manager of planning and development Trisha Le proposed ideas for a downtown revitalization project in Lloydminster.

The first paragraph of the Lloydminster tab under the Economy section of the Saskatchewan government’s website describes Canada’s border city as “vibrant.”

The Streetscapes Destination Downtown annual general meeting on Wednesday evening at the Lloydminster Golf and Curling Centre was all about how to bring more vibrancy to downtown Lloydminster.

“There’s a lot of good things that downtown is doing right now, but there’s a lot of opportunities that we can take advantage of to enhance our downtown,” said city general manager of planning and development Trisha Le.

Le, and project consultant Naren Garg, presented for over an hour on their research and analysis of Lloydminster’s current downtown and how the city can improve it. They brought up ideas including adding hangout areas, larger signage, making the streets more bright and engaging and most importantly, showcasing the city’s culture.

They said that the downtown plays a critical role in the impression visitors take from a city, and as a result, it’s important for downtown Lloydminster to become more dynamic, and distinguished from the rest of the community. They studied successful downtowns in similar markets, such as Medicine Hat, which Garg says, Lloydminster can model its downtown after.

“Medicine Hat is unique in that it’s got a lot of the (same) features - it’s close to the Saskatchewan border, it’s an oil and gas-driven economy, it has a historic downtown. Lloydminster also has to build a much more vibrant downtown,” he said. “It’s maybe 15 years ahead, so it’s sort of looking at, ‘Can we get to where they are in five to ten years?’”

It remains to be seen how strongly the city will commit to a major revitalization project. Multiple people in attendance brought up previous revitalization proposals dating back to 1991 that never came to fruition.

Many of the ideas brought up on Wednesday sound great in theory, but would cost the city a substantial amount of money. Still, plenty of people agreed that with Lloydminster growing as rapidly as it is, now is

See “Downtown,” Page 14

the time to seriously commit to a downtown revitalization, if it’s ever going to happen.

“I talked about being realistic in what we’re wanting to do,” said Le, referring to the costs of revitalizing downtown. “That’s something we’ll put in priority lists, is what the public wants, and then we’ll have to see how much it will cost and (the city will) be able to choose from that list.”

She said that over the next two years, the city plans to begin implementing minor changes to downtown, like upgrades to infrastructure, with the hope that incremental improvements year-by-year will have a strong impact over time.

Garg added that modestly expanding existing projects to meet other downtown objectives would improve the downtown area more efficiently. “The city spends millions of dollars every year to improve old infrastructure and build new infrastructure ... so you’re digging up the sidewalk anyways, can you replace it with a nicer, more pedestrian-friendly sidewalk and planters and street furniture and better lighting?”

Earlier in the evening, Streetscapes handed out three local business awards: Studio Encore Dance Centre won Best Interior Renovations, Border City Furniture won Best Exterior Renovations, and The Root: Community Emporium won Best Seasonal or Theme Display.

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