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City asks residents how to make downtown vibrant

The City of Yellowknife wants to ‘re-establish downtown as the heart of the city,’ and it wants residents to weigh in on how to accomplish this.

Two open houses are being held at city hall Tuesday, April 9th. The city is asking residents to participate and give insight into the challenges and opportunities facing the downtown area.

For those who want to give feedback but cannot attend the open houses, an online survey is open until April 15th.

The open houses are part of a ‘retail revitalization strategy’ with the dual goals of ‘(increasing) vibrancy into the downtown area and successfully (re-establishing) downtown as the heart of the city.’ The city is using consultants Tate Economic Research Inc. for expertise on retail and commercial development.

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Information about the open houses comes two days after a downtown building owner brought concerns to city council about the state of public intoxication and violence around the 50th Street sobering centre and day shelter.

Councillors Stacie Smith and Steve Payne, both downtown business owners, thanked April Desjarlais for bringing the issue forward. “You’ve raised this for every business owner downtown,” Payne says.

READ MORE: Day shelter is a ‘failed model’: Yk building owner

The City of Yellowknife has been working on downtown revitalization for many years. A vision was put together for this purpose, with goals of jump-starting development, beautifying the ground floor level of downtown businesses and increasing housing downtown. In this vision, downtown is defined as the area within 47th to 54th street and 49th to 52nd avenues.

Debates about what to do about the 50/50 lot have been both abundant and costly over the years. Council decided in early 2019 to put the lot out for sale or lease.

The Win Your Space YK contest has been held since 2017 to stimulate new businesses in the area: Ja-Pain bakery and Music Space, both open downtown, are winners. In 2017, the city also offered incentives to businesses who opened patios or public washrooms.

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