The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many plans being altered. However, with the Provincial Government's new "Alberta Open for Summer" plan, the Heart of Our City Committee (HOCC) has been proactive to re-image how to enhance the vibrancy of Downtown in the context of pandemic and post-pandemic realities.
The new Re-Imagine Downtown Activation Grant aims to support businesses, entrepreneurs, organizations and community-minded individuals in implementing initiatives, events, and/or programs that seek to activate vacant, underutilized and under programmed private and public spaces and places – safely with COVID-19 restrictions in mind – within Downtown.
The total funding available for the Re-Imagine Downtown Activation Grant in 2021 is $150,000, with applications eligible for up to $25,000. Funding is provided through the Downtown Redevelopment Fund's unutilized contributions to the previous HOCC Activity Grant, which was temporarily suspended in 2020 with the continual changes to public health restrictions severely impacting the ability to plan for events and festivals in the Downtown – which support vibrancy, safety and economic stimulus for local businesses. On an annual basis, the grant has supported 20-25 events and festivals which have attracted 45,000-65,000 people per year.
The HOCC felt it important to do as much as possible to safely encourage people back into the vacant and underutilized spaces of Downtown by supporting initiatives that look to create a critical mass of activity that supports local businesses, fosters healthy and safe social settings, and provides a feeling of safety and security through positivity," says HOCC Chair, Lorien Johansen.
With the hopes of supporting initiatives as early as July, the first intake of new grant applications is open now and will close on June 25. Applications will be evaluated and awarded by the HOCC and all successful applicants will be required to meet and adapt to applicable COVID-19 restrictions in effect at time of initiative.
More information and the application form can be found here: lethbridge.ca/downtownincentives.