Downtown Edmonton Looks Up: Trade Association – Edmonton | PKBNEWS

The situation downtown is improving, but many Edmontonians remain reluctant to visit downtown.

That’s according to Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association (DBA).

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“Perception takes a long time to catch up with reality,” she told 630 CHED Afternoons’ J’lyn Nye during a year-end interview.

LISTEN: A 2022 Year in Review with Puneeta McBryan on 630 Afternoons CHED with J’lyn Nye

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“A lot of Edmontonians are still thinking about (how) they may have come downtown at some point in 2020 or 2021, and it was really dark and dark and quiet. It’s not that anymore. »

McBryan said this year there were up to 60% of office workers back in buildings and she often saw restaurants full and crowds heading to hockey games, live concerts and comedy shows. at Rogers Place.

“(This year) I felt like there was always something to look forward to. There was always a lot of great activity,” she said.

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She also pointed out the new condos being built. One of his top priorities for the coming year is to draw people downtown.

“We have about 13,000 residents downtown right now and we want to get to 20,000 over the next decade, hopefully sooner than that,” McBryan said.

She said there were more than 60,000 students attending the two downtown post-secondary schools – Macewan University and Norquest College – and she wanted to see more housing options built for them at the center. -city.

She would also like to see retail stores that support the residential base come downtown.

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“My dream is to see an urban Canadian Tire or Home Depot, and more of those stores where you can actually have a complete downtown community where everything is walkable,” she said.

She said now that a grocery store opened downtown in November, the neighborhood is on the verge of being truly walkable.

But she said there was still work to be done.

“Our biggest challenges facing our downtown are the most important and intractable problems facing society right now,” McBryan said.

She said the province’s recently formed task force to tackle social issues in Edmonton is a promising sign.

The issues facing downtown Edmonton aren’t unique to the city, McBryan said.

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“I’ve had the privilege of visiting a few other cities over the past year and meeting my counterparts from downtown associations across North America. We are not alone in the problems we face,” she said.

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She said she will always be an advocate for homelessness, substance abuse, crime and mental health issues, but will also focus on what the DBA can control.

“We are really here to be the chief optimist of our downtown, to organize great events and to market all the great businesses that we have. »

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