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Image: Adam Roy. Drumheller, AB

only empty because of lacking demand, but also because of regulatory impediments for re- use, for adaptation. This makes mixed-use development difficult. Another common mistake is to pre-define the type of demand and activities, and then not seeing other forms of demand and other redevelopment options: there’s no new lawyers moving in, so it’s a failure; meanwhile, students and young couples would love to live here but can’t. Conversely, very lax regulation on building and development on the fringes of town could divert resources in that direction, away from the downtown core. Stricter planning on the fringe, in combination with development incentives and flexibility, speed, and advice from leadership in downtown projects, can bring a downtown back to life.

Some Alberta and British Columbia towns want it all: a vibrant downtown core for shopping and leisure, while at the same time fully supporting big box store development on the fringes. Nostalgia to recapture the old downtown can increase the regulatory burden on new development, since new builds or renovations have to be like in the old days. Conversely, any new development on the fringe is considered “economic development” and can therefore not be opposed, planned, or regulated. None of these developments are necessarily right or wrong, and combinations of heritage and new development are possible, but only when there is a comprehensive strategy: What do we want for the whole community? Both core and fringe development sites will have to be considered with flexibility, and in a coordinated manner.

The concentration problem of boom and bust communities so often mentioned in this guide is an issue here, when local administrations cannot imagine alternative versions of downtown, and when one or two wealthy and connected players sit on much of the real estate downtown, maybe waiting for the next boom for years and years. Engaging those

Part V: Development approaches for inspiration and guidance

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Profile for University of Alberta Extension

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

Boom & Bust: A Guide, Managing Ups and Downs in Communities  

Boom and Bust: A Guide is the result of a collective effort at the University of Alberta to better understand the dramatic ups and downs whi...

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