The Heart of Our City Committee is pleased to announce the winners of the second annual Celebrate Downtown Awards, which recognize and celebrate special people, businesses and organizations for contributing to the vibrancy of downtown Lethbridge.
A total of 49 organizations, events, businesses and individuals were nominated for this year's awards. Winners were announced at an awards event May 10 at Casa in downtown Lethbridge, and awards were handed out in the following seven categories:
Back in the Day Award – Recognizes a nominee who has contributed to the preservation of downtown Lethbridge
Winner: Belinda Crowson - Belinda is Lethbridge's consummate historian. She is passionate about our city's history and is the best promoter of its past. Belinda is a member of the Lethbridge Historical Society, has been its president and president of the provincial historical association as well. She brings our past to life through rousing tours and presentations. She is an author who inspires others and makes us all feel connected to our city's history!
Champagne Award – Recognizes a nominee who deserves a toast for all they do as an incredible volunteer and champion for a vibrant downtown
Winner: Penny Coffee House - The Penny Coffee House has been an important part of the downtown for more than 20 years, serving great coffee and delicious soups, sandwiches and desserts to an eclectic clientele. The Penny has always been a strong supporter of the arts, both by publicizing arts events through posters, and by hosting various small-scale arts events such as musical and poetry reading performances, and displaying the work of local visual artists on the cafe walls.
Hip Downtown Transformation Award – Recognizes a nominee who is leading a transformation of downtown spaces, business, neighbourhoods, activities and/or events that make Lethbridge's downtown just that much cooler
Winner: Stone Arbour Developments (Suites 601) - Suites 601 involves the renovation of the old Bargain store building at the corner of 4 Avenue South and 6 Street South. This space is being transformed into an amazing vision and mix of business, retail and 15 condominium living spaces. It is great to see this heart of downtown building being repurposed and refurbished.
Running with the Bulls Award – Recognizes a nominee who takes on great risks and is not scared to challenge the status quo in working to create, maintain, support and/or promote an exciting downtown
Winner: Loralee Edwards-Drunken Sailor – Described as one of the bravest entrepreneurs in Lethbridge, Loralee has created a unique retail experience that also embraces her artistic and activist sensibilities. Her store celebrates every body and everybody.
She creates partnerships with other businesses such as the drink special at Plum or the Christmas Coat drive with Kapow. She and her employees contribute to events such as Lethbridge Pride Fest, Lethbridge Fashion Week, Women in Business Network, Lethbridge Roller Derby, Arts Days, Prairie Pitbull Rescue and more.
Her store promotes Downtown Lethbridge as a fun and exciting place through its active social media presence: their Facebook page has over 7,000 likes. She has quite a few customers who travel specifically to Lethbridge to purchase her uniquely curated offerings. As well, the store routinely pushes beyond its leased space to stage fun, creative happenings in the downtown. This includes setting up models in the window for people to draw during Arts Days or staging an impromptu fashion show down the sidewalk. Recently, the store was recognized on national media as she opened the doors to Woman's Marchers for sign-making.
Being bold is not easy. Loralee has been told to tone down her politics, to be not so different, that mild is the safer economic choice – sometimes in not very polite terms. Downtown Lethbridge would be a much duller place without her and the store.
Taking Care of Business Award – Recognizes a nominee who is committed to taking care of the downtown community, including its streetscapes and spaces, to build a beautiful downtown – also recognizes those who are not scared to get their hands dirty to get it done and are often unsung heroes
Winner: Joseph Eufemia-Telegraph Tap House - Joseph has pushed for an outside space to enjoy a beer, and he makes Festival Square festive. Outside patios have sprung up around downtown! He is a big supporter of music, he has transformed the Telegraph building, and he has a great love for downtown.
From the Heart Award – Recognizes a nominee who is a social change agent who is creating an inclusive downtown and is involved in making downtown a welcome place for all
Winner: CMARD (Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination) - CMARD is a City of Lethbridge committee with the mandate through UNESCO Canada to create a welcoming and inclusive community. The City of Lethbridge signed onto CMARD in 2007, so this marks the 10th year that the committee has been working on advancing inclusion, equity and diversity in our community. Working with the many demographics that visit, tour, play, work and live, CMARD Lethbridge promotes a city free of discrimination regardless of your background, culture, way of life, ability, and source of income or gender identity. CMARD has recently been working with the Reconciliation committee, which consists of many community members. This is an important undertaking to build Indigenous and Non-Indigenous relations. As well, Bonvenon has been created, which provides free training on inclusion, equity and diversity in our downtown for agencies, businesses, community groups and residents. This came about from dialogue with businesses, agencies and downtown stakeholders. CMARD has supported many events that take place in the downtown and has worked with many downtown businesses and agencies to collaborate on projects like Black History Month, Aboriginal Awareness Week, educational sessions and events like World Refugee Day.
Downtown Event of The Year – Recognizes a nominee event that's committed to creating a vibrant and inclusive downtown
Winner: Lethbridge Pride Fest - Lethbridge Pride Fest saw nearly 8,000 people visit over the course of all of its events. It attracts people from all over Alberta and surrounding provinces and creates a safe, exciting place for people to come and celebrate who they are in our city. Pride Fest helps local businesses, hosts events for people to have fun and become educated, and helps create a more welcoming city. Lethbridge Pride Fest offers a variety of different events over the course of a week that help create spaces for people of any age, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and religion. The difference in these events pushes the boundaries on social norms and puts a spin on expectation. There's something for everyone at Pride Fest. The whole event challenges the status quo and allows for a greater, more colorful Lethbridge.
The Heart of Our City (HOC) Committee would like to thank 2017 Celebrate Downtown Event Organizing Committee and volunteers for their hard work in organizing this important downtown event:
Chair: Dawn Leite, HOC member
Public members: Bobbi Cullum (Co-Chair), David Robb, Anna Olsen
HOC members: Kate Connolly & Rosie Digout
Pink Tie-events: Whitney Bullock & Ashley Walker
Three-legged Dog Graphic Design - Dana Woodward
Allied Arts Council for donating the space
Chelsa from Funky Petals for the beautiful flower arrangements
Cidnee Lorenz - registration and logistics
Kiera Slater- Event photographer
Jenn Schmidt-Rempel for live tweeting the awards event
CJOC & 98.1 the Bridge for their on-air support and providing staff to Emcee the event
George Kuhl, Downtown Revitalization Manager, City of Lethbridge
The Celebrate Downtown Awards were established in 2016 by the Heart of Our City Committee to recognize outstanding efforts in enhancing downtown Lethbridge. For more information, visit: www.lethbridge.ca/HeartofOurCity.
George Kuhl, Downtown Revitalization Manager
City of Lethbridge