Downtown’s getting better all the time

Tyler Clarke
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Prince Albert’s downtown core, seen looking south up Central Avenue, appears to be on the upswing. 

At about this time last year, the Prince Albert Downtown Improvement District Association publicly criticized city council for underfunding the downtown core.


One year later, they’re singing a different tune.

“We went two years, there, in 2011 and 2012, projects were carried over and there was absolutely nothing invested in downtown,” acting manager Bob Gill said, citing last year’s massive downtown paving effort as making a great improvement.

“To have that $1.7 million invested last year was huge.”

Within this year’s city council-approved civic budget is $60,000 toward a downtown sidewalk paving stone replacement project and more than $1 million toward repairing the Central Avenue viaduct.

On top of that is a continuation of the city’s $4 annual asphalt paving program, which the city has yet to announce the specifics of.

“We want to work hand in hand with the city, to have a good working relationship with them to make sure we develop the downtown the way we want it to be,” Gill summarized.

The Prince Albert Downtown Improvement District Association held its annual general meeting on Wednesday, during which they centred discussion mainly on 2013 achievements, Gill relayed.

And it was a good year.

In addition to the city’s investment, three businesses took advantage of the Main Street Prince Albert Program and made façade improvements to their buildings.

Gill anticipates announcing another six to eight façade improvements in the near future.

Although 2013 saw the downtown area lose five businesses, they gained 12.

“That’s a plus-seven new businesses in the year, so that’s a good sign that there’s growth and change happening in the downtown,” Gill said – a forward momentum he hopes to see continue.

We want to work hand in hand with the city, to have a good working relationship with them to make sure we develop the downtown the way we want it to be. Bob Gill

Prince Albert Downtown Improvement District Association co-chair and Gateway Mall Manager Sharon Faul said that things appear to be on the upswing at the mall.

“There’s a number of negotiations going on with national retailers at this point,” she said.

“What we have under construction is just the tip of the iceberg. We have a lot of plans that we are starting to put in place.”

This year will be more of the same for the downtown stewardship organization, Gill said, noting that the Farmer’s Market is expected to kick off on June 14 during the Annual Street Fair -- an excellent draw for the downtown area.

In addition to their continued dialogue with the municipality, Gill said that they’re keen on working more closely with SaskPower in getting downtown street lights replaced.

They’re currently committed to replacing 10 of the downtown’s outdated light posts per year.

“With 300 lights in the downtown, we don’t have 30 years to wait,” Gill said.

“We’re in touch with SaskPower and our MLAs and the city. We’d like to get that to a three or four or five-year program.”

Between the city’s involvement in making infrastructure improvements, business owners involved in making façade improvements and the province’s involvement in replacing lights, Gill said that they appear to have banded a winning team together.

“When you’ve got all three levels of people in the downtown area involved, it can hopefully get a lot done in the downtown area.” 

Organizations: Prince Albert Downtown Improvement District Association, SaskPower

Geographic location: Central Avenue

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