Update: May 24, 2023
Entertainment District Bylaw will Not be Proceeding
During the May 23, 2023 regular meeting of Council, the second reading of the proposed Entertainment District Pilot project was defeated by Council. As a result, the proposed Entertainment District Bylaw will not be proceeding.
The decision to not proceed with this bylaw was influenced by feedback from both community members and businesses (who operate within the proposed bylaw zone). As Council considered the bylaw, as a whole they felt there was a disconnect between the intended purpose of an entertainment district (getting more people downtown more often) with the proposed bylaw. Linking advancing economic development for the downtown to events downtown which already attract significant visitors was not going to offer the change that Council wanted to see. As a result they did not advance the bylaw.
Community feedback is critical to help inform Council's decision making process. The Town is grateful for all of those who took time to respond to the community and business surveys, and engage in meaningful and respectful dialogue with the Town.
Update: May 16, 2023
During the May 15, 2023 Governance and Priorities Committee (GPC) meeting, the Committee was presented with the What We Heard Report (WWHR) which summarized the comments provided to the Town about the proposed Entertainment District Pilot Project. Feedback was gathered through:
- In-person conversation and a dotmatrix exercise at the Chamber of Commerce Lifestyle and Trade Show;
- Community-focused online survey;
- Business-focused online survey for businesses operating in the proposed district;
- In-person conversations with business owners operating in the proposed district;
- Emails received by Council and Administration;
- Presentations by community members and business owners at public delegations.
The GPC discussion about the proposed Entertainment District centred primarily around three themes:
- Purpose of the Entertainment District: The proposed pilot was an initiative brought forward by the Chamber of Commerce and is intended to support local businesses through animation of the downtown core while stimulating our local economy.
- Timing of the Entertainment District: GPC heard from the community that the proposed district timing of seven days a week was too broad of a timeframe. There seemed to be greater support of an entertainment district that was in effect during special events only.
- Hours of Operation: GPC also heard that the initially proposed hours of operation from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. was too long. The majority of residents and local businesses did not support this.
Based on the feedback that GPC received and after a lengthy discussion, the committee brought forward several motions to amend the proposed bylaw as it had been originally presented.
The amendments, based on community feedback and GPC discussion are:
- The days of operation for the Entertainment District pilot be amended to coincide with the following community events:
- June 24, 2023 - BuskerFest
- July 22, 2023 - Taste of Okotoks
- August 20, 2023 - Show and Shine
- August 26, 2023 - Chilifest & BBQ Showdown
- Plus two other community event dates on which events are not currently hosted by the Town to be recommended by Administration upon consultation with stakeholders.
- The hours of operation of the Entertainment District pilot be amended to read from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (based on the dates of the community events noted above).
- That an Entertainment District pilot proceed from June 24 to October 31, 2023 (during special events only, as described above) with the bylaw amendments as discussed, and a report provided to the Governance and Priorities Committee by March 31, 2024 evaluating the outcomes of the pilot including a community wide and business specific public participation process to address the following five points:
- Impacts to business
- Impacts to cleanliness of downtown
- Volume and nature of complaints to Municipal Enforcement and RCMP
- Overall event experience
- Costs and liabilities
This amended bylaw will be brought forward to Council for second reading and additional consideration during the Regular Council meeting on Tuesday, May 24th.
Thank you to all of our community members and businesses who took the time to provide feedback and allowed Council to have the valuable information needed to make an intentional and informed decision.
Update: May 12, 2023
Entertainment District Next Steps and Important Timelines:
- May 7 (midnight): public and business surveys closed
The Town collected public input on the opportunities and challenges of the proposed Entertainment District in Okotoks.
- May 11: The Entertainment District “what we heard” report will be shared
Town administration will be working to compile all of your feedback from the survey into a What We Heard Report and the Report with community feedback will be published to the Town website on Thursday, May 11.
- May 15: Entertainment District goes to GPC for committee discussion
discussion will resume at the Governance and Priorities Committee (GPC) on Monday, May 15 beginning at 4:30 p.m. GPC meetings are open to the public to attend in-person or to watch the livestream if you would like to hear the discussion. The GPC is an opportunity for Council to have a deeper conversation and fully discuss potential policy, bylaws and community feedback from public participation before they come forward to a regular Council meeting where bylaws are read.
- May 23: The proposed pilot goes before Council for consideration of next steps dependent upon the recommendation of the GPC.