It appears some of the initiatives put forward by City Council to tackle safety concerns in the downtown are having a positive impact, according to the Downtown BRZ.
A downtown business owner is singing a different tune these days.
Hunter Heggie came before City Council last fall upset about the negative impact drugs and other crimes were having on downtown businesses and asked for immediate changes.
Heggie, who's on the BRZ Board and also owns the King of Trade, was back before Councillors Monday (May 6) and says downtown Lethbridge is back open for business. "You know, City Council and administration really came to bat. Things aren't perfect, but we are moving in the right direction. There's no doubt about that. This Watch program came out and before that there was security walking the streets. People have just come back."
Heggie understands there is still plenty of work yet to be done, but he says things are a lot better and safer than they were a few months ago.
Mayor Chris Spearman was happy to hear the positive feedback Monday, but stresses this is just the start. "We want to make sure the downtown is safe. The Watch Program started last week and the Community Peace Officers will start at the end of June. There is going to a be more uniformed presence in the downtown. We want to keep the downtown clean and safe."
As for Heggie, he says it appears the City's Downtown Clean and Safe Strategy is working. When he appeared before Council back in October he said safety and social issues downtown were unacceptable and driving people away from the area.
Heggie did note that not everyone is totally feeling the positivity. "I just spoke to someone who's not happy, but as a BRZ Board we are happy with the direction things are headed. I'm downtown on the streets every single day. I see that vibe is back, We are pretty positive about the future."