June 24th, 2024

Downtown Festival Square getting a makeover

By Herald on September 9, 2021.

Herald file photo - Brazil supporters cheer after their team’s second goal as they watch the 2014 World Cup quarter-final match against Colombia at Festival Square, one of the many events held over the years in the downtown space.

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Work has commenced on the construction of Festival Square downtown, an outdoor space that will become a home for numerous events of various types.

The project, which will continue for a couple of  months, has prompted the closure of 6 Street South from the intersection at 3 Avenue to the laneway south of the Downtown BRZ office.

That laneway is still open and turnarounds are being constructed at 6 Street and 3 Avenue South.

In July, city council voted 6-3 to go ahead with a revised plan for Municipal Stimulus Project funded projects including the Festival Market Square Plaza which has a price tag of $1.71 million.

Because two airport projects can be completed with a $1.9 million surplus, city administration recommended unspent funds be shifted to the Festival Square project which due to inflation and revised scope was expected to cost more than its original budget.

From the surplus, council approved $810,000 to be allotted for the Festival Square work which is being done on the province’s dime.

The square will be on 6 Street and will be utilized as a year-round plaza playing host to events such as farmers markets, movies, musical performances and other events. Upgrades will include an interactive stage, programmable lighting, furniture, lighting and water/wastewater servicing.

Work has to be finished by year-end and Andrew Malcolm, Urban Revitalization Manager for the City of Lethbridge, said construction is expected to be completed by mid-November.

“Festival Square has an interesting and long history in downtown Lethbridge dating back to the 1980s when the first kind of pedestrian improvements were made on 6 Street,” said Malcolm Thursday.

“6 Street has always had a little bit of a different vibe to it than other streets downtown and that’s largely because of those pedestrian improvements. It’s functioned as an event space from time to time for things like the World Cup viewing parties, the farmers market and other things like that. And  those days, are by far the highest pedestrian foot traffic count for businesses. They’re the most successful days for businesses,” said Malcolm.

“We’re really excited by the fact that we are going to create an environment that really allows for the stimulation “  investment in the immediate area, he added.

“When you create a space where markets can take place, where businesses can spill out onto the public realm, you create a place where people actually want to be. You create a place where people want to prosper and invest. So we’re really excited to see what this initial investment will do in terms of spinoff activities,” said Malcolm.

“The economic growth, that economic impact of this project, will be felt day-to-day in terms of performers being able to use a publicly available stage with the infrastructure needed to do what they do. A market space so the farmers market and other types of crafts markets and craft artisans, with very little red tape, have a venue to sell their wares. And then to support those adjacent businesses, especially the food-based ones who have seen such an uptick of outdoor seating opportunities, and so we’re really thrilled that we got the money from the province. And we think this is going to be a catalyst. We think this is going to build off the success we’ve seen so far with the blocks of 3rd

Avenue that have been completed” plus the success of patio and programs and the future SAAG expansion.

The performance stage will be set up at the south end of the square and will be permanent.

“We think we’re really creating a nucleus of really positive activity in the downtown,” Malcolm added.

Since the announcement was made about the Festival Square investment, four new businesses have established on 6 Street, he said. One of those is going to be a multi-million dollar investment.

“So we’re already seeing some of the fruits of the labour of this project.”

Follow @albeebHerald on Twitter.

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Citi Zen

Unbelievable how much taxpayer money this administration is continuing to throw at downtown. Downtown is a lost cause. Maybe spend some money on something that a majority of residents will actually use and appreciate?
Wow, time to send this mayor and council packing. And we don’t need any dysfunctional ex-aldermen as our new Mayor. Let’s see some new blood with some common sense thinking.