LETHBRIDGE -- With businesses continuing to reopen amid the new normal brought about by COVID-19, Downtown Lethbridge has unveiled a new look and sense of identity that officials hope will help bring members of the community back over the next few months.

Officials from both the City of Lethbridge and Downtown Lethbridge were on hand Monday morning to showcase one of the new enhancements for the area, a “streetery” set up at Festival Square on Sixth Street S.

It’s one of several new things residents will notice in the downtown over the next several months, which will also include on-street patios for businesses, known as parklets, and light standard banners.

These improvements will provide additional outdoor seating for food establishments and physical distancing restrictions remain in place.

“Over the years, we’ve had different groups working on the revitalization and development of downtown," said Andrew Malcolm, urban revitalization manager.

"We felt that we could be more successful in promoting the amazing things happening downtown if we did that all together, under a single Downtown Lethbridge brand.”

Officials believe all of these items will help to showcase the new Downtown Lethbridge branding that celebrates the originality of the downtown core with a uniquely crafted feel.

The key is the additional space, which is designed to make people feel safer and more comfortable when they go out to eat.

“To be able to have people be able to sit out at patio tables that are six feet apart from each other and still support downtown businesses, particularly for restaurants and pubs, where they can bring their foodservice out onto the street I think is really great,” said Heart of Our City Committee chair Dawn Leite.                               

The new direction for downtown is a collaboration between the city, the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) and the Heart of Our City Committee of Council, which was created after receiving feedback from businesses as well as research provided by Economic Development Lethbridge.

“So, now rather than branding the Heart of Our City or the Downtown BRZ, it’s all together under just Downtown Lethbridge because that’s the main thing, to promote our downtown,” said Downtown BRZ executive director Ted Stilson.

The groups received $50,000 in grant funding from the province’s Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program on top of money from the City.

While the new enhancements and updated visuals will give the area a new look, ultimately getting customers back in the downtown will come down to them feeling safe.

“Everybody has to make their own decisions on where their tolerance level is. I ate here at the Telegraph Taphouse last week, the waitress was wearing a mask and they were very safe with everything they did,” said Downtown Lethbridge BRZ chair Hunter Heggie.

"If that becomes the normal experience for locals, then you might see more people getting back out and about this summer."