April 21st, 2024

BRZ names new chair

By Tim Kalinowski on March 13, 2021.

Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski Justin Tavernini, owner of 02 Training Centre Inc., has been elected as the new chair of the Downtown Lethbridge BRZ board.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDtkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

The Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone has a new board and a new chair coming into a critical municipal election year for the city.
Justin Tavernini, owner of the O2 Training Centre Inc., will assume the chair duties, and he hopes to influence city council elections to reflect an agenda which is friendly to business, and in particular small business, in Lethbridge.
“We want to see more support for business,” he said. “More support for small business, and the struggles we go through. I don’t think people realize how much entrepreneurs put into their businesses … More support from council directly toward small business and entrepreneurship is what I want to see.”
Social housing is also a big item on his agenda as he hopes to see greater thought from council in that area.
“The last couple years we have been dealing with a number of housing initiatives that want to come to the downtown like low-income housing or transitional housing,” he stated. “A big focus of mine as an entrepreneur and a business owner is to address some of the zoning issues for downtown. Right now zoning is discretionary; so anybody and anything can put a business downtown, and it’s discretionary to council.
“I would like to address those zoning issues and really hone in the businesses downtown, and support business versus transitional housing– more of that permanent condominiumized housing to get people actually living downtown, and supporting and spending money downtown.”
Tavernini says there are great challenges in the downtown right now, but also great opportunities with stronger support for local businesses like his.
“Coming out of COVID vacancy rates are a little bit higher than normal,” he explains. “We need to get new business happening, and we need to get more feet on the streets and more people shopping downtown. With the supervised consumption site closing in 2019, that played a big part in some of the struggles of downtown. That stuff is behind us now, and moving forward in a positive direction– so getting people down here, getting people excited about coming downtown and shopping local.”
Post-COVID, Tavernini says bringing back events to the downtown is going to be key to a longer term recovery.
“I think the City needs to get strong with events,” he says. “Coming out of COVID, people want to participate in events; so utilizing our downtown and our local businesses, and our local entrepreneurs, to come together and put together some events would be great.”
Tavernini says he is excited to take on this new role as chair of the Downtown BRZ.
“I have been part of the downtown for 10 years,” Tavernini explains. “I started my business down here, and I have seen it through all the ups and all the downs through the past few years with all the struggles. I have been on the (BRZ) board for two years, this is my third year on the board, and I have more experience with this stuff than (the rest of) our board right now; so it was time to step up.”
“For me, it was dream of mine to start my own business,” he adds. “It is exciting for me to help other entrepreneurs and business owners see their dreams become reality, and help them with that process.”
Newly elected board members to the BRZ include Steven Foord, Kendal Hachkowski, Sheri Kain, Sabelo Makalima, Kim Overes and Dean Wilson.
Returning board members include Cara Draffin and Scott Warris. Departing members include Jason Bacon, Kevin Brees, Robin James, Stephen Mogdan, who just announced his candidacy for mayor, and past chair Hunter Heggie.

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Citi Zen

Business in downtown Lethbridge is doomed until they clean up the riff-raff that hang out on the streets and in the parks.