July 21st, 2024

Downtown BRZ does valuable work for the community

By Lethbridge Herald on February 14, 2024.


Your February 6, 2024, opinion piece questioning the value of the Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone’s (BRZ) membership tax levy and suggesting the over 500 members refuse to pay the same offers opportunity to respond and inform the community of the efforts the membership tax levy facilitates.

The BRZ exists to champion a vibrant and desirable downtown destination where the greater community actively engages and shares our pride.

 Within this vision reside our four mission statement pillars of education, support, promotion, and advocacy.

In 2023, the BRZ took an active advocacy role on several platforms. When the city proposed to increase parking fines a full 250 per cent, the BRZ stood up for its community and protested. 

We spent the year negotiating the current package which did see an inevitable increase to parking fines but also included reduced enforcement hours, an increased top-up grace period, an early payment period increase to ten days, the elimination of Zone 2 parking, improved kiosk maintenance and free parking days throughout the year. 

Community feedback to the BRZ has been generally very positive.

The BRZ has recently strengthened its advocacy role through participation in the Downtown Lawlessness Reduction Task Force. 

BRZ members, council members and key city departments have met twice monthly, since late 2023, to address the issues plaguing our downtown and those endemic across the western world. 

To expect immediate resolution to entrenched social issues and their effects, however, is unreasonable but we are making gains. 

To that end, the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) 2024 grant has been topped up beyond its originally allocated amount to help businesses secure their properties.

This winter, the BRZ has advocated tirelessly for its members on the issues of snow removal on, in and around the new bike lanes. The BRZ clarified messaging and communicated the downtown membership’s frustrations to the appropriate city departments.

The downtown membership tax levy not only supports the BRZ’s vital advocacy work.

 It also reinforces our education work within which we build wider knowledge of the value our downtown creates and supply members with resources, tools, and services. 

In our support role the BRZ facilitates access to programs and services for members. Also, we build community with impactful, value-added services such as the Clean Sweep Program which includes needle and other drug related debris mitigation, and encampment and biohazard clean up. 

Finally, we work tirelessly in the promotion of our downtown as we creatively market and champion the downtown as a destination to live, visit, shop and invest. 

To this end, we host events and engagements throughout the year. Some of these include, the Farmer’s Markets, Foodie Fest, and, Celebrate Downtown.

 In 2023, we witnessed the real results of our hard work as we welcomed 23 businesses to the downtown and realized the execution of 93 successful events in Festival Square alone.

Thus, dear editor, to hide behind anonymity, a protection the newspaper does not afford other contributors, and suggest the downtown members refuse paying their membership tax levy will not only affect the work we are doing on advocacy issues but will also curtail the other daily valuable work. 

The BRZ is committed to the revitalization of thedowntown core and works willingly alongside the city and wider community to dispel negative perceptions of safety and celebrate all that is good in the Downtown.

Sarah Amies

Executive Director

Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone

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A quick reality check here. How many of the stated things would have happened if the BRZ didn’t exist? Likely most of them. Taking credit for the accomplishments of others is just sad.

Last edited 5 months ago by Canesfan

As a business owner, a survivor of the impacts of the SCS, I do not have an issue with the Downtown BRZ. When our streets were getting over-run by the addicts in 2017 and onward, I wondered where the Chamber of Commerce were, as businesses downtown were either failing or having to pour thousands of dollars into their business to counter the impacts/damages.
Many of us now have some hope from the Downtown Lawlessness Reduction Task Force.