25 per cent cut to City Centre Development Agency budget discussed

By Jessie Weisner
January 7, 2019 - 8:58pm Updated: January 8, 2019 - 6:54pm

 

MEDICINE HAT, AB -- Medicine Hat’s downtown core is a major spotlight in the city. From murals to 100 year old buildings, it’s worthwhile to visit.

The goal of the City Centre Development Agency (CCDA) is to draw people to those attractions.

However, during Monday’s city council meeting, Councillor Jamie McIntosh thinks it could be doing a whole lot more.

“There is value in what the CCDA brings to our downtown,” says McIntosh. “There’s absolutely no question about that, the question is, is it worth $221,000 dollars?”

The City provides $100,000 each year to the agency, and downtown businesses pay about $120,000.

McIntosh wants to cut $25,000 from that.

McIntosh says he’s just reflecting the wants of downtown business owners.

“They do not feel that for $221,000 a year they’re getting value for money,” says McIntosh.

It’s been an ongoing issue as well.

“They identified that stakeholder support is the concern and that was the same thing five years ago,” says McIntosh. “So when something hasn’t changed in fiveyears it’s obviously time to do something.”

The CCDA provides certain grants, business promotions, and upkeep of the plants and flower baskets in the downtown core.

They also host occasional events, and have their own downtown dollars incentive.

“The CCDA tends to be, in my opinion, the glue that tries to hold all the business owners together,” says Jeremy Silver, chair of the board of directors for the CCDA.

Louise Vernal, owner of Inspire Cafe downtown supports the CCDA, but does think they could step it up.

“I think they’re doing a good job, but yes we can all do better,” says Vernal. “Heck I can do better.”

Vernal says many businesses want someone to fight for them, but the CCDA has been serving its purpose.

“They could be a little stronger minded on some of their attitudes, sure that can happen,” says Vernal. “Do I believe in the CCDA? Yes I do.”

Silver disagrees with the narrative that it hasn’t done much. He believes it’s essential to downtown.

“Without us you’re not going to have that central source for information” says Silver. 

“And central source to advocate for you.”

Silver adds that their dollars are already being stretched, and if funding is cut, businesses can say goodbye to a special downtown grant.

“The first thing we would have to cut is the CCOIP program,” Says Silver. “Which is a grant program we give downtown business owners to upgrade storefronts.”

For now there’s nothing to worry about, city council hasn’t made any final decisions.

After consulting downtown businesses, a conclusion will be made at the next council meeting on January 21.

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