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City council to discuss plans to revitalize downtown core

Last Updated Apr 26, 2021 at 7:24 pm MDT

Downtown Calgary, Alta., on Thursday, July 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – The mayor and city councillors will meet Monday morning to talk about money to revitalize the downtown core.

The 10-year-long plan has already been endorsed by the city’s planning and urban development committee, but now they’re looking at council to approve $200 million so they can start implementing it.

City documents show 30 per cent of all office space in the downtown core is vacant, and office property values have dropped by $16 billion since 2015.

About $45 million of the initial funding would be used to incentivize office to residential conversions, another $80 million to fund the first phase of the Arts Commons transformation project, and $55 million to create a program to fund vibrancy projects in the core.

Ward 8 Councillor Evan Woolley said every dollar they’re investing in the downtown will create a huge return on investment.

He added that doing nothing is an option but would lead to the failure of the city.

“We need to remember that the downtown is the goose that lays the golden egg for our city. We lost $14 billion in assessed value which hit our operating budgets by over $250 million in the last five years.”

WATCH: Record-high vacancy rates in downtown offices

This isn’t the first time city council has reviewed the possibility of revitalizing parts of downtown Calgary.

Last December, Ward 6 Councillor Jeff Davison proposed a Notice of Motion that would offer incentives to those looking to develop the downtown.

Davison was primarily looking at the possible development of empty office spaces for residential use.

“Looking at the entire downtown core and recognizing one of the biggest issues we have and that is, not a lot of people live there. If we’re going to look at the revitalization of the economic strategy, bringing new companies into the downtown, one of the support mechanisms we actually need is to provide an opportunity for people to actually live there.”

RELATED: City councillor looks to convert downtown offices into residential spaces

Davison said one of his recommendations is waving development fees or legislating ways of freezing tax for a period of time when building new residential spaces.

He added the incentive will bring more people to downtown, thus stimulating the economy.

Last week, Opposition NDP leader Rachel Notley called on the government to support the downtown plans and stop their cuts to infrastructure funding and show support for vital projects like the Green Line LRT.