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Nenshi says he likes idea of a downtown Calgary economic summit

Councillors want to hold strategic meeting on Calgary's core to address 30 per cent vacancy rate

A downtown economic summit? Nenshi could get behind that.

Metro File

A downtown economic summit? Nenshi could get behind that.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he likes the idea of a downtown economic summit for Calgary.

Couns. Druh Farrell and Evan Woolley are pitching the idea of a summit in a notice of motion at Monday’s council meeting.

With help from Calgary Economic Development, they want to get stakeholders into a room to discuss what the city could do to address the downtown’s growing vacancy rate, which is near 30 per cent.

“Do you just wait until the economy comes back up and have those same tenants come back, or do you find a way where people who have been priced out of downtown for a long time because it was too expensive can now set up downtown?” asked Nenshi.

He said he knows newer tech companies are interested in business incubators, as opposed to traditional office space, and that landlords may have some interesting ideas about how to address this as well.

Coun. Farrell said the city may need to change zoning laws or take other steps to allow for flexibility.

Nenshi agrees that new ideas need to be tried to address the downtown vacancy problem.

“Thirty percent vacancy is nothing to sneeze at. For many many years we had not enough vacancy, it was too tight and that was restricting our ability to attract people. And to go from next to nothing to 30 percent to 18 months is really unprecedented.”

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