Downtown Edmonton has lost business due to social disorder: premier, recovery group

Edmonton’s downtown has lost on business deals due to the safety issues plaguing it in recent months, the premier and a downtown advocate said this week.

On Thursday, premier Danielle Smith told reporters people are “astonished” how “dangerous” the capital city’s core has become.

“It’s not a safe environment when you see drug use and needles on the street,” Smith said.

“I’ve heard of a couple of business deals in Edmonton that have fallen apart because when the principals wanted to buy the building, they looked around and said, ‘We will not have our female workers come out in this environment at night,’ and that’s not acceptable.”

The chair of the Downtown Recovery Coalition (DRC), a group developed to help the area come out of the pandemic, echoed Smith’s claims.

“We’ve absolutely heard of investments falling through because of the state of our downtown,” Alex Hryciw told CTV News on Friday. “It’s typically when investors come to our downtown and it’s the social disorder that they see on that tour. It’s that open, illicit drug use around transit stations or in the pedways.”

She called Sport Chek leaving Edmonton City Centre a “devastating blow.”

Eight months ago, DRC thought downtown was one to two years away from recovering from the pandemic, but the group is now projecting the improvement will take as long as five years.

Hryciw thinks the Alberta government is now “stepping up,” like sending sheriffs downtown to assist local police, and she’s hopeful events like the Junos, summer festivals and Downtown Business Association initiatives will make downtown a better place to be.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson

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