Edmonton’s Downtown Enrichers
Edmonton City Centre is proud to be a collaborator within Edmonton’s downtown. As the largest group of retailers (80+ stores) and businesses tenants (TD Tower, 102A Tower, Centre Point Place) we are passionate about all of downtown, the people, residents, businesses, workers, commuters, shoppers, tourists. This series is our way of reflecting on some of the people that are making a difference in your downtown and enriching the community with the work they do. We hope you enjoy the series.
Alex Hryciw – Director, Strategy and External Affairs, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce
A born and raised Edmontonian, Alex has a great love for her city and community, and has held roles throughout her career that have allowed her to make a big impact. She is well-known for her extensive experience in leading astute communications, governance, and external relations strategies for elected officials, c-suite executives, and corporations, and her work has a proven track record for delivering positive outcomes and impacting public sentiment and approval.
Alex works with leaders who are passionate and set clear mandates for how their organizations can benefit the broader communities they work in. Currently, she is Director of Strategy and External Affairs at the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, and her previous positions have included: Communications Advisor to Mayor Don Iveson; Director of Strategy at Innovate Edmonton; and Chief of Staff to the Founding CEO of Invest Alberta. Alex is also the current Chair of Edmonton’s Downtown Recovery Coalition, is actively engaged in politics, and formerly sat on the Board for the Edmonton chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.
- You are born and raised in Edmonton with a passion for Edmonton. Tell us why you think downtowns are important to a city?
Good question …there is an expression “as goes your downtown so goes your city”. Any city with a vibrant downtown has the capacity to attract and keep people whether they actually live downtown or outside but come down for a multitude of reasons; social, study, events, dining. Downtowns hold a high amount of a cities tax base in a relatively small square footage. When your downtown thrives, your entire city thrives.
- In an article in Edify, one of the reasons given for you being in Edmonton’s Top 40 is “she helps build a better city and unites downtown stakeholders.” How are you doing that?
We set forward with an ambitious plan to build a coalition of the willing to advocate for downtown and didn’t expect the community to be so eager to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Bringing residents, social leaders, business leaders and community advocates around one table has been a game changer for downtown Edmonton. It’s really about trying to collaborate with diverse groups to prioritize action.
It’s through consensus that we can marshal resources from not only the city and other orders of government but to a large degree from the private sector. Consensus builds confidence.
- Can you share perhaps some of the future initiatives of the Downtown Recovery Coalition?
You will see continued consensus building as our economy continues to recover and people regain confidence in the safety of our downtown. We have monthly coffee and evening meet up opportunities to continue the grass roots approach and get people and business involved. Its important to ensure the conversation continues and translates into action like the Downtown Clean up April 21st and 22nd. We’re also focusing on what a long-term vision for downtown looks like and transformational policies like residential incentives to sustain density within the core. There is a lot to look forward to!
- ECC has been a supporter of front-line organizations and in particular Boyle Street and the planned King Thunderbird Centre. Despite controversy, its progressing… what do you see as additional gaps that need to be filled?
The King Thunderbird Centre has huge value within the downtown landscape although there is an understanding there is a need to decentralize support services outside of downtown. This centre and Boyle Street are committed to long term solutions that can truly help people in their own unique circumstances. Additionally, we’re advocating for more day centres for folks to drop into. Currently, residents, community and businesses are facing the most interactions with vulnerable Edmontonians during regular business hours. We need to ensure the Library and City Centre Mall aren’t used as places to “hang-out” and instead, support the creation of drop-in day shelters that provide access to internet, charging stations and the many supports in terms of mental health and addiction that are needed.
- How do you see the role of ECC as part of the Edmonton downtown community?
It plays a huge role simply due to its size and positioning within downtown. The leadership team is sensitive to their responsibility as a major stakeholder on behalf of office tenants, retailers and customers. It will be exciting to see how the centre evolves. Increasingly, as we develop policies to prioritize residential growth downtown, those residents will want quick and easy access to retail and we need a thriving mall to offer those kind of amenities!