The city has expanded its window repair program to include more business areas across Edmonton.
The city-run grant program was launched earlier in 2023 to help business owners who are dealing with graffiti or have had their windows smashed by vandals. The program covers 50 per cent of costs for eligible repairs up to a maximum of $2,500.
The city allocated $500,000 for the program and so far, approximately one-quarter has been used. The funding will continue until it has been used up.
When it was initially launched, eligible areas were downtown, Chinatown and North Edge. The city also worked with the Old Strathcona Business Association and Alberta Avenue Business Association, providing them with $167,500 and $60,000 respectively, to distribute their own window repair funding to local businesses.
The program now includes Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in:
- High (124) Street
- Fort Road
- French Quarter
- North Edge
- Northwest Industrial
- Stony Plain Road
The Old Strathcona Business Association and Alberta Avenue Business Association will be eligible for the expanded program once they have used up their previously allotted funding.
Edmonton business owner speaks out after store vandalized
The executive director of the Kingsway District Association said their group — as well as the BIA council of Edmonton — has been advocating for the expansion of the window repair program to all the other business areas.
“It’s pretty clear what’s happening with crime and vandalism in our city that the need is definitely required for more areas than just downtown … and it needed to be expanded to meet the needs of other businesses that are also facing those challenges,” said Ellie Sasseville.
“Absolutely, we felt a little bit left out.”
She said businesses in the Kingsway area have seen an increase in crime and vandalism.
“We only anticipate that to get worse, to be completely honest, with the addition of new encampment forming almost daily.”
Sasseville acknowledged the need for social housing and other supports, but said local business owners dealing with their own struggles shouldn’t also be on the hook for the trickle-down implications.
“We’ve had several businesses already apply, knowing that the expansion was coming, due to the vandalism they suffered,” she said.
“The only other alternative is, what? Board them all up? And have metal cages over all the windows? That doesn’t create a sense of safety, walkability and vibrancy to any neighbourhood. It’s not what we’re about and it’s not what we want to see happen in our area,” Sasseville said.
“We just don’t feel that these are costs businesses should have to endure over and over again.”
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Coun. Anne Stevenson said the program is getting positive results.
“It’s been a very modest program. It’s been not a huge expense for the city but it’s had a huge positive impact for businesses.”
And, she says, while it’s intended to be a short-term assist, she’s glad to see it made available to more local businesses.
“Even though maybe some of the challenges were concentrated in the downtown and Chinatown for some months, it certainly didn’t mean that other businesses weren’t experiencing those same pressures,” Stevenson said. “I’m really pleased that all BIAs will benefit equally from this.
“We know that this program doesn’t address the underlying causes, but at the same time, until we get to a point of having solved those issues, I think it’s really appropriate that we’re supporting businesses with these costs in the meantime.”
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Cory Richard Jones, owner and designer for Lewis Mayhem in Old Strathcona, told Global News the store was smashed into and robbed twice in a three-week period.
“It set us back quite a bit,” she said on Sept. 26.
“It’s not just the cost of the glass getting smashed and stuff being stolen, it’s having to upgrade all your security. You have to buy roll shutters. We’ve got full security cameras now.
“The OSBA does have a fund that does help with some of the window breaks — covering half the cost — but it’s just not enough.
“It would be really nice to have some additional funding and supports for small businesses for the break-ins beyond a window repair grant.”
Window Repair Program aims to help Edmonton businesses dealing with vandalism
The OSBA recently launched a letter-writing campaign in an effort to have a provincial task force take more action to address public safety in the Whyte Avenue area. It requested more police presence, a street outreach team and the expansion of the window repair program — funding to help cover other security items like cameras and tamper-proof bins.
“We found we’ve only spent about $10,000 out of our $160,000 grant program on window repair because businesses are saying it goes beyond window repair. We need support for other things that are being vandalized … that financial reimbursement,” OSBA executive director Cherie Klassen said.
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