July 18th, 2024

Members are frustrated with the Downtown BRZ

By Lethbridge Herald on February 24, 2024.


The recent letter from Sarah Amies regarding the efforts of the BRZ on behalf of the downtown small business community is the same old rhetoric. 

The Herald opinion piece questioning the value of the Lethbridge Downtown Revitalization Zone was spot on. Here are some reasons why members are frustrated:

• What is the organization doing for their clients throughout the whole zone? 

The constant use of the Galt Gardens and  the Festival Square site limits most of the retail benefits to a small area. If your motives are truly in support of your all members why bring in food trucks so the people stay in that area?

• Why did the BRZ not educate its members about the construction that would upset the whole area during peak retail season? Why did they not advocate for a more reasonable time frame?

The fact that the BRZ advocates for snow removal in the bike lanes brings into question where they were when the whole mess started. 

The traffic congestion speaks to the lack of forethought.

The fact that the organization is proud of the results of its advocacy regarding parking is ludicrous!  

This parking issue is what is killing downtown business. The rates should begin at the half hour. 

People should not be forced to pay a three-hour surcharge to simply pop in to an establishment. 

This garbage about how lucky we are to be able to wander about for hours applies to very few people. This seems to be the BRZ feeding us what the people at City Hall want us to accept whether we like it or not.

The effort of the BRZ regarding the Clean Sweep Program are necessary and appreciated. 

It must be kept in mind that although most members support this and other community efforts it is the responsibility of the government. 

Members of the BRZ are paying this additional tax to promote their interest, not to take on the duties of City Hall.

I do not claim to speak for all members but can speak of my own experiences. I agree with the editorial questioning  “what are tax levies doing for downtown businesses?”

It is time for a new approach that will encompass all of Lethbridge and have better operational guide lines.

The the time has come to fold the BRZ.

Bernie Pigeau


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You raise a few valid points, yet in fairness, did you bring your concerns to the BRZ?
My experiences with them is they are available to ideas and willing to help. A few decades ago, I bought and sold real estate and we were shown the two most significant elements in a successful business were location and parking. I concur that downtown has parking issues for many, including  myself, who want to be in and out fast while shopping.
Many don’t grasp the psyche of individuals who are going to shop nowadays. People do not have the patience for stop and go traffic or bumper to bumper traffic, they want free flowing traffic when they go to shop. This is Lethbridge, not Calgary or Toronto or Vancouver. A city of this size ought to have easy flows of traffic.
The city should be advising the businesses along their routes in advance when there are upcoming road closures that will impact  business and the BRZ could be informed and share that information. Did you inquire as to whether that were conceivable?
I realize the DBRZ is trying sincerely and are centered around working on the downtown, however everybody needs to cooperate, conveying their interests for this to occur. I’m feeling hopeful, and as a reminder, some of those members are volunteering their own time to sit on the task force do deal with one of the important issues, not getting paid to do so. I have a business downtown and share some of your concerns. We have been beaten up from by several issues downtown in the last few years, it is time for a few decent years!
I am considering moving my business out of the core, but why should I have to? Why must we put up with lawlessness? For now, let’s try to work together to take back our downtown!

Dennis Bremner

I think this letter demonstrates the frustration of some business owners. I find it interesting that the BRZ and Chamber assume downtown stops at Hwy 3 and Stafford at best.
Let me use Waterton as an example. When you go to Waterton NP you park and walk The area is not large so you can “do” every store in a few hours. Lethbridge isn’t small enough to “do” in a short time. So people drive to the street they need to visit then tend to leave. Tourists do a specific area and are totally unaware of other areas to see.
Why not include everyone you can. We appear to preach “inclusiveness” at every opportunity to strike shame upon those who still follow the bible or other good books before they became ammended as of 2000 !
We hand deliver medical assistance to a drug addict ODing for the 4th time in a day, we allow men who dress as women and prance around like a “firefly on cocaine”, to use womens bathrooms in the name of inclusiveness.
We cut up our streets into slices so we can include bicycles in the name of inclusiveness. We preach dignity and respect in the name of inclusiveness for drug addicts but appear to be more than willing to drop feces on the business front door as if “you can afford it, yur rich” were savin lives here!!!
We can’t seem to come up with something that is outside the box? For instance 5 or 6 wagons pulled by horses driven by Dressed Cowboys who will take you on a tour of the outer reaches of downtown and downtown and then promise to come pick you up within an hour?Or Blackfoot in full dress signing autographs and allowing pictures with tourists? I walk into a shopping mall and there is the worlds best directory. Where is the directory for downtown, in the downtown? Maybe its a bad idea, but, DOES ANYONE HAVE A BETTER ONE? You too NDP and Big Churches, its your time to float an idea to hep our downtown or can you only think of things to kill it?

As a commenter pointed out, instead we hover over vehicles and wait for them to expire on the meter and ensure the tourist does not come back. We celebrate two square blocks and wonder why the rest are suffering?
So why can we not do this? I can tell you why, those who cater to drug addicts first, ensure their businesses remain borderline profitable or not profitable! What creates “inclusion” is succes !.Success breeds rejuvenation and renovation! Rejuvination and renovation breeds more success! Ask anyone you wish with the exception of Sophie who posts here,
When was the last time you went for a liesurely walk through Galt Gardens and the downtown?
Take a survey, it won’t happen because you already know the answer to the question! If people cannot walk and feel safe then it won’t happen. If walking after dark is someting people fear then we all lose! I see nothing in this city that would indicate the downtowns well being is first and foremost or even in any planning stages, no matter how many committees are formed. If you can’t or won’t speak to the problem, then their is no solution.. Success is difficult, failure is easy!

Doomsday Dennis

Last edited 4 months ago by Dennis Bremner

It appears as though some city policies have contributed to the downfall of the downtown. Does the city still apply the 1950’s mindset that the closer to downtown a business or property is the higher the property tax is per square meter or foot? If so does that encourage sprawl to outer limits of the city?