A Touch of History
By 1914, numerous buildings had been located in the heart of the city. Of course, the heart of the city – and all the action that surrounded it – looked decidedly different from today.
For many years, this city centre was the only business district in Grande Prairie. National chains like Hudson Bay and Woolworth’s eventually settled in among the many small, locally owned businesses.
Downtown was the literal hub: the place where you did all your work and errands, the place where you went for entertainment, and the customary stop to meet both friends and family.
Changing the Face of Downtown
The industrial buildings were the first to move. As trucking replaced the railway, the elevators disappeared from the city centre, as did the warehouses along the railroad track. These industries moved to specially zoned industrial parks to the town’s north and west sides.
Car dealerships and gas stations soon followed. These found expanded sites along the highway’s industrial landscape. Likewise, in the early 1970s, the trend in retail turned towards shopping malls, causing numerous retail businesses to begin to leave the city core.
Restoring the Downtown Tradition
The City quickly realized that these changes threatened the downtown tradition. As a result, the Central Business Association was formed in 1974 to protect this area. In 1983, it was rezoned as the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ). Restoration projects began to restore what once was, focusing on establishing the beauty of the area by replacing sidewalks, hanging flower baskets and winter lighting, and funding stunning murals.
A Blend of Urban Vibes and Historical Pride
Maintaining its charm and attraction, Grande Prairie’s city centre now exists as the perfect niche for locally owned and operated businesses to thrive, as well as the home to vital community events and venues.