Provincial Support for Downtowns, Business Districts and Mainstreets

Subject Economic
Year 2023
Status Adopted - Active
Sponsor - Mover
Edmonton, City of
Sponsor - Seconder
St. Albert, City of
Active Clauses

IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT Alberta Municipalities advocate to the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada to increase their financial commitment to supporting the recovery and ongoing vitality efforts for the downtowns, business districts, and main streets of communities throughout Alberta.

Whereas Clauses

WHEREAS downtowns, business districts and mainstreets serve as community hubs where residents and visitors can gather to celebrate, build community, share ideas, learn, trade and innovate, and are often the first and lasting impression of municipalities;

WHEREAS downtowns, business districts and mainstreets support a municipality’s ability to attract, retain and grow economic investment;

WHEREAS vibrant, attractive, welcoming, safe, and economically diverse downtowns, business districts and mainstreets support the Government of Alberta’s ongoing efforts to attract new residents and economic activity to Alberta;

WHEREAS downtowns, business districts and mainstreets were, and continue to be, some of the most impacted areas stemming from the negative economic effects of COVID-19 such as the loss of residents, workers, businesses, and visitors, and the increase and concentration of social disorder;

WHEREAS municipalities require partnerships with, and support from, other orders of government to revitalize and ensure the ongoing vitality of these strategically important areas of communities throughout Alberta;

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has recognized the importance and prominence of downtowns, business districts and mainstreets through the release of the Calgary Office Revitalization and Expansion (CORE) and the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Economic Recovery (EMRER) reports.

Resolution Background

Downtowns, business districts and mainstreets are the focal point of businesses, retail, tourism, and the hospitality industry in communities of all scales.

These areas within communities throughout Alberta contribute greatly to Alberta’s economy and are areas in which jobs are often concentrated. Furthermore, these areas exert a strong influence on how a community is perceived, in turn impacts the attraction of tourism, investment, workers, students, visitors, and new residents to a community.

These issues are not just big city issues, but can be seen in communities throughout Alberta as the downtowns of mid-sized cities and the mainstreets of all communities have suffered from the negative economic effects stemming from COVID-19.

Alberta’s municipalities and the Government of Alberta have a shared interest and responsibility to ensure these strategic areas within communities throughout Alberta can thrive and be utilized as an incentive to new residents and investment to Alberta. These areas within communities throughout Alberta have and will continue to play a critical role in our ability to attract and retain investment, grow our tourism industry, and contribute to the reputation of Alberta as a place to call home.

Government Response

In response, the Government of Alberta indicated a commitment to making stronger municipalities across the province and highlighted various supports including:

  • $10 million to assist downtown revitalization in both Calgary and Edmonton in Budget 2022.

  • Flexibility in the Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) program to support streetscape improvement projects contributing to downtown vitality, such as signs, street lighting and sidewalks as well as flexibility to direct LGFF funding toward projects supporting existing and new businesses, and industrial districts, including rehabilitation and construction of road, water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. 

  • The ability to pass a bylaw to form a Business Improvement Area (BIA) to advance commercial vibrancy in a specific area.

  • The Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) program is a financial tool, which can be used to revitalize an area where redevelopment is hindered due to significant and persistent barriers.

  • Alberta also provides a range of small business supports, including a wayfinding service called Biz Connect (, which provides referrals to relevant organizations.