Revitalising Downtown Lethbridge & High Density Housing

When I was running for a seat on city council in 2001, one of the most common issues I heard brought up was the fact Lethbridgians wanted the downtown revitalised. I think that is all and good and could go a long way to improving the city.
Another thing I noticed based on focus groups and committee meetings I attended regarding the revitalising the downtown was that residents did not want high-density development.
This makes no sense to me. why would you not be in favour for the thing that would be the most helpful to revitalising the downtown?
What the downtown needs to be revitalised is people. Plain and simple. Building bigger roads to bring more cars downtown isn’t the answer; nor is building more parking spaces. The easiest way to get more people downtown on a permanent basis is to build more housing; in particular to build more housing using the same amount of existing space.
High-density housing will bring many more people downtown on a permanent basis, providing more consumers, more entertainment patrons, and more transit users. As a result, the downtown will attract higher-end retail and hospitality establishments, result in better (and more frequent) entertainment options, and create improved transit options.
In addition, such housing will reduce (or at least slow down) the spread of urban sprawl—a plague in the open prairies surrounding the city. The city will spend less money on roads, sewer and the delivery of services (such as gas, water and electricity).
One would think that after 20 years, it would be time for Lethbridge to see at least one more high rise apartment building.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

3 replies on “Revitalising Downtown Lethbridge & High Density Housing”

Every city has its downtown problems. Here in Sudbury, there is lots of business downtown but a lack of shopping and as a result, the formerly largest mall almost shut down and the city core is almost dead after 5pm. The problem with our city core is parking: the city creates parking lots (parking on the ground) but no parking towers which means that new employees have to go further and further away from the core to find parking (or pay higher rates for the premium spots). The mall has parking but only for its paying customers (spend at least $15 and you get 2 hours free) but if you go to a store outside of the mall, there is no break on parking unless the store has its own policy.
As someone who grew up in Mississauga (beside Toronto), I must admit that I don’t like highrise dwellings (I didn’t live in one but many were in our area). Admittedly, these were 15–20 stories in height, others that are 4–5 stories in height may provide the density that you are looking for without the problems that the big ones seem to create.
In order to get people to live downtown, there must be the support for these people such as convenient shopping of all kinds (pharmacies, grocery, department stores) with decent hours (open to 9pm) with plenty of available parking.

The types of shopping you mention are available in downtown Lethbridge. Parking isn’t an issue since parking can be integrated into the foundation of any high rise apartment.

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