Downtown revisited

It’s great to see the City continuing to take steps in trying to make the downtown core an inviting place to spend time in, and what better season than summer in which to do so.

Earlier this week, officials announced plans to bring the Ross Street patio back for the entire summer. One lane of Ross St. between 49 Ave. and Little Gaetz will transform into a lively outdoor patio for Red Deerians to enjoy a great space downtown.

The patio will be home to benches, picnic tables, flowers, trees and what has become another popular downtown fixture – the community street piano as well. The site should be open June 1. Officials also point out that the downtown market, which runs on Wednesdays through the summer, will be a nearby attraction, too.

But the patio was just part of the good news for what residents can expect downtown this summer. The City is also gearing up to present a series of free concerts and special events through to September downtown as well. Community-organized musical entertainment featuring the aforementioned Ross Street piano is part of what will kick things off this week. The goal is to showcase local artists and entertainers right in the heart of the City and at Bower Ponds as well.

In the downtown, the City and the Downtown Business Association are organizing weekly cultural performances and demonstrations at the Wednesday night downtown market and again at lunchtime every Thursday in Veterans’ Park.

These events will be book-ended by a June 15 concert featuring Porter and Randi Boulton and a final downtown concert on Sept. 7.

It’s been encouraging to see the downtown core become home to a number of popular events over the years, and the list seems to be growing. The well-attended Mayor’s Garden Party, the extremely popular street performers’ festival CentreFest and Fiestaval are all examples of activities that continue to draw increasing numbers to the downtown area.

Downtown Red Deer has faced a number of challenges over the years, with dwindling numbers of shoppers and not enough attractions to bring many people down in the first place. With the removal of big-name box stores years back, it has taken time to ‘rethink’ how to stir up a fresh interest in the downtown. And with Red Deer’s population nearing the 100,000 mark, there is no reason why the City shouldn’t have a vibrant, bustling and business-friendly downtown core.

Combined with work to improve the look of the downtown area in general, things look promising for area. We encourage everyone to check out the new and improved downtown Red Deer this summer, and enjoy a little music and culture at the same time.