At the Committee of the Whole meeting on February 14, 2022, the much-anticipated downtown plaza design was revealed to Council.
“The plaza is conceived as a multi-use space that can change its function based on different needs – and adapt to Drumheller’s strong seasonal cycles,” shares Reg Johnston, the Town’s Manager of Economic Development. “Part of the space is imagined as temporarily expandable for events – like markets, outdoor movies, and music. On a regular day, much of the plaza space will provide parking for local businesses and their employees.”
Engagement with downtown businesses started in early 2021 with two online sessions and eleven in-person visits. The former Downtown Area Revitalization Plan (DARP) Committee reviewed the initial plaza design in November 2021, and again this February. The DARP Committee consisted of members from the Community Business Association (CBA), the Drumheller and District Chamber of Commerce and other local Valley businesses. Travel Drumheller was shown the plaza design earlier this year, and the CBA will have another presentation regarding this project in March.
This project has received two formal letters of support from Travel Drumheller and the Chamber of Commerce.
“The downtown area has an important and unique role in the economic and social development of Drumheller. Carefully developed downtown areas create a critical mass of activities. This concentration facilitates business, learning, and cultural exchange. Drumheller's downtown is on the cusp of this critical mass and the plaza would assist the area in developing to its fullest potential,” stated Travel Drumheller’s letter of support.
The current plaza design consists of a stage design based on a dinosaur skeletal structure, paver surface and lighting. The plaza stage will have anchors to allow for temporary wind barriers for performer safety. Public washrooms were not obtainable in this phase of the project due to budget constraints.
The Chamber noted in their letter that “We are also excited about the plans for the 360 stage, which will be the focal point of the plaza area. While we understand the plans to include public washrooms in the initial design of the plaza are now limited due to cost, we still feel this component is essential.”
Johnston also noted, “The current design estimate is within the budget of the MSP grant funding, however if we are able to obtain additional funding, we will pivot to a more expansive design. We are actively applying for additional grant funding opportunities and fundraising opportunities.”
Drumheller was awarded $940,000.001 for the downtown plaza through a provincial grant called the Municipal Stimulus Program (MSP) in early 2020, with the intention of the project to be completed by the end of 2021. The Town received an extension to the deadline for the project to be completed by the end of 2022.
The tender package will be available on the Town of Drumheller’s website for bid later this week.