Applications are open for grant funding for projects and initiatives to revitalize downtown Lethbridge. The Re-imagine Downtown Activation grant will provide up to $120,000 to businesses, organizations and community-minded individuals to create programs, events and initiatives, with a focus on underutilized and under programmed spaces downtown.
Funding for the grants is provided by the Heart of Our City Committee and each individual application can get up to $10,000.
“The Re-Imagine Downtown grant program has, through all its iterations, been one of the most popular and successful initiatives created under the auspices of the Heart of
Our City Committee,” says chair Lorien Johansen. “Our small businesses, nonprofit organizations, entrepreneurs and community groups are more important now than ever before as we continue the path of growth, recovery, and revitalization. These are the things that give our city life and vibrancy, entertainment, and a sense of neighbourhood.”
Johansen says she likes to see proposals for all sorts of projects, whether they are large annual events or small-scale creative projects.
“We have a lot of nonprofits in the city and they have all kinds of ideas and it’s a matter of figuring out how we can make this meet the criteria of the grant, which is accessible, sustainable, something that contributes to the vibrancy and the life of downtown. There are guidelines,” she says.
Johansan, who is also vice president of the Lethbridge Historical Society, says she often hears how the many heritage buildings in downtown Lethbridge contribute to the uniqueness of the community. She adds the recent fires at both the Bow On Tong and the Lethbridge Hotel have a significant impact on the downtown.
“Obviously we haven’t seen the results of either of the investigations so I can’t really speak to that, but the loss of the buildings themselves regardless of why, is such a blow to not only the historical society but to the city in general,” she says. “We want to encourage positive activity in our downtown — light will drive away dark. It is a universal law, there has also been multiple studies conducted on the idea that if your downtown is suffering, bring in more positive activity to encourage positivity and a feeling of community and a good atmosphere and that will very naturally eliminate the negatives.”
The first intake of new grant applications will close on April 14 and successful applicants will be notified on or before April 28.