City of Calgary wants more businesses to move downtown
Removing 'red tape' hopes to fill empty storefronts, while running risk of unsavoury businesses moving in
Calgary city council is looking at temporarily relaxing some of its zoning rules to make it easier for new businesses to set up shop in vacant downtown storefronts.
However, some worry about what kinds of businesses might take advantage of the new rules.
"What we want to do is accept a little bit more risk to get these businesses occupying the main floors of these buildings and basically start creating some vibrancy in our downtown," said Coun. Druh Farrell.
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The city says the presence of empty storefronts downtown reinforces the perception that Calgary is struggling with an economic downturn.
It's hoping to make it easier for businesses to fill vacant spaces by placing a two- or three-year suspension on the rules which require zoning changes and certain parking rules.
The city says these changes could run the risk that more pawn shops, payday loan shops, bars and liquor stores will pop up as a result.
Still, Maggie Schofield with the Calgary Downtown Association applauds the city for trying to help.
"If you can get those first three floors leased with something that's actually working for people, and you get the foot traffic around that, it can really make a difference to any businesses that are coming into the area."
A city committee approved the idea Wednesday, and a public consultation on the policy change is expected to be scheduled.
City council will debate the actual rule changes in June.
With files from Scott Dippel