At today’s regular City Council meeting, the Downtown Activation Playbook was received by Council as a community planning tool.
The Downtown Activation Playbook is a key milestone of the Downtown Identity Plan project, and provides the roadmap for a new downtown identity for this key neighbourhood, informed by community voice, highlighting key conditions for success, streams of action, indicators, and initial moves.
Meant to serve as a long-term community planning tool, the Playbook complements other streams of work that are underway to address more immediate issues in the downtown, such as safety and social issues. This includes our on-going conversations on a permanent integrated shelter, the social diversion program, the Community Housing and Homelessness Integrated Plan, and the Integrated Downtown Policing Unit.
“We are very excited to share the Downtown Activation Playbook with Council and the public,” said Tricia Hercina, Acting Community Services General Manager. “We built this plan alongside the community, and believe it reflects a ‘made in Red Deer’ approach and considers all the factors that make our community unique.”
The Downtown Identity Plan project set out to create a refreshed identity for Downtown Red Deer – one that resonates with Red Deerians, businesses, visitors and investors and inspires them to visit, shop, work, live and invest in its commercial core. This work was recommended in the Downtown Investment Attraction Plan (DIAP) and the Downtown Residential Attraction Strategy, and also aligns with Council's current strategic priorities.
As a key milestone in the project, the Downtown Activation Playbook sets the vision for downtown as the vibrant heart of Red Deer, animated by spaces to gather, connect, entertain, and reflect. Developed between August 2021 and April 2022, the Playbook is meant to guide future placemaking and promotional efforts that will enhance the appeal of downtown.
“The Playbook defines what a vibrant downtown looks like for Red Deer and provides guidance for both The City and community towards realization,” said Hercina. “While the Playbook sets the foundation for a future downtown vision, the momentum for downtown has already started, with many initiatives – like Meet the Street, the entertainment district and the downtown washroom pilot – already underway.”
As a community planning tool, the Playbook is intended to help The City, stakeholders and the broader community shape their planning for downtown places and spaces. Each action in the Playbook identifies the role The City could play, but also the other organizations and partners that could lead, support or implement the initiative. Budget for specific actions and initiatives will be considered as part of The City’s overall budget planning process.
The Playbook was developed with significant input from the public, through an engagement process and a Downtown Working Collaborative. Through a combination of interviews, workshops, and an online questionnaire, the engagement process captured feedback from over 1,600 Red Deerians of all ages. In the second phase, participants provided feedback on the emerging Playbook direction (vision, conditions for success and streams of action) through a series of one-on-one interviews and presentations.
The next step in the Downtown Identity Plan project is to develop a visual identity for downtown that conveys the vision, builds excitement and identified the area as a unique place.