A little light through the pandemic clouds for local businesses in difficult 2021

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In my first column of this year, I anticipated the end of COVID-19. Obviously that didn’t happen, nor did my hopes for the Stampede and Spruce Meadows to return to normal.

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What happened was the almost total changing of the guard at the town hall. I mentioned that I thought it would be a good thing, even if without a learning system in place there was a danger that rookies would make decisions before they really understood what it might entail.

The new advisers must be given time to settle in and get involved in their committee responsibilities, but they had a somewhat difficult start with their elected colleague Seau Chu.

Fortunately, they quickly shut the county back. André Chabot’s strange motion to create road closures so that some members of his parish can test their modified vehicles. Speed ​​and noise on city roads that we don’t need. And if they have to street race, then stop them with the strong arm of the law.

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The Council is responsible for the use of taxpayer dollars, but we are still pursuing huge projects including the expansion of the BMO Center, the renovation of the Glenbow Museum, the expansion and renovation of Arts Commons and the Green Line Transit Project route – more potentially an event center in Calgary.

Among the highlights of the year, it was good to see strong private sector projects take off, including The Shops at Buffalo Run, anchored in a Costco store on Tsuut’ina lands.

Much has been said and written on empty downtown office floors. There are no easy short-term fixes and I don’t think converting offices to residential units is having a big effect. But the noted increase in vehicle traffic on main roads to downtown and full stalls at LRT bus stations would at least suggest a return of many to their downtown offices. And that’s a good thing, because shops, restaurants and cafes need to be crowded.

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A big help will be the completion of more high rise residential properties – none subsidized by government money – which will dramatically increase our downtown population. So, hats off to developers like Cidex, One Properties, Hines and Centron, who together have several hundred suites under construction.

Despite the gloomy office space, 2021 saw great confidence in the city center as a place to work.

Slate Asset Management has spent a “ton” of money on new equipment at its Stephen Avenue Place property to attract good tenants of retail, restaurant and office space. Major Tom on the 40 e floor must have recorded the best launch of any restaurant here – you should always plan a reservation well in advance.

Retail is filling up and new tenants are drawn in and renting available office space, including mCloud Technologies’ 33,000 square feet.

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Another downtown redevelopment that has excited me is the transformation of the historic Lougheed Building from before WWI. As I walked around, I was amazed at the sleek new entrances, new amenities, and the conversion of office floors into modern high-tech spaces that will undoubtedly attract more businesses to the city center.

From a people’s perspective, it takes too long to pick a new CEO of Calgary Economic Development and Executive Director of the Calgary Downtown Association. We were able to welcome three new Consuls General in Tatsukuni Uchida from Japan, Holly Waeger Monster from the US and Jonathan Turner from the UK, but it must have been a tough few months trying to settle in a new country and move on. come into contact with Calgarians and others in their respective jurisdictions without the ability to mingle and mingle and travel.

It certainly wasn’t the year most of us were hoping for, but look around the world and realize how blessed we are to be living in Calgary.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at [email protected]

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