A group of developers is promising to breathe new life into the core of Alberta’s capital city, after a rough two years during the pandemic.

“Tumultuous, painful and difficult,” said Puneeta McBryan of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association (DBA) when asked to characterize COVID-19’s impact on downtown.

But that tide is turning, she said Thursday, after an announcement that more than 160 Edmonton-area companies have new plans.

“It’s going to take an all-hands-on-deck approach to really revitalize and support community vibrancy,” said Kalen Anderson of Urban Development Institute (UDI).

She said her group’s new “all in for downtown” effort will bring more advocacy for urban recovery and long-term investment.

It also includes the promotion of new business and residential development opportunities.

“We’re Canada’s fifth-largest city, over a million people. We need to have a big, beautiful, bold and safe downtown,” Anderson said.

Edmontonians are slowly making their way back to the city’s core, McBryan said, but the area needs a lot of TLC first.

“There’s a lot of optimism in the air, but there’s also a lot of work that needs to be done from all levels of government, from the business community,” she said.

Two immediate needs, she believes, are more street-front retail and more bodies to shop in them.

“Those are in my view two of the biggest priorities in order to really get to where we need to get to,” she said.

Coming soon will be a series of actions that will be developed and pursued by UDI and its members.

A big deal, said McBryan, given that some members haven’t previously associated themselves with Edmonton’s downtown.

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“The fact that they’re going all-in for downtown is huge. Like, that should send a very clear signal to all levels of government, to all Edmontonians, how important it is to our economy, to our tax base, to the spirit of our city, everything.”

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Joe Scarpelli

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