Edmonton’s ICE District is celebrating the opening of its newest tennant, Loblaws City Market.
“We’re so proud to be part of it,” said franchise owner and store operator Stella He.
The two-floor grocery store is expected to fill a much-needed void serving downtown residents and workers whose current grocery options are in neighbouring communities like Oliver and Chinatown.
“This is a huge step today for downtown,” said Anne Stevenson, Ward O-day’min councillor.
“This has been a missing piece for eight years now where we haven’t had a grocery store in the heart of our city so it’s an incredible opportunity to support the livability and health of our downtown,” she added.
“It’s the centerpiece of ICE District in the sense that everybody’s going to come here on a daily basis, that’s the whole premise of being downtown, urban, modern and fresh and that’s what the Loblaws City Market brings to us,” said Stu Ballantyne, Rogers Place and ICE District President and CEO.
Ballantyne said the store’s opening is paramount to the success of the ICE District’s first phase.
“The grocery store fills that need for everybody to be able to live, work, play and stay in the actual ICE District itself,” he said.
Downtown has been struggling in recent years with crime and social issues.
“Were they really nasty for a while? The answer is we had some issues in downtown,” said Ballantyne.
He believes the store is another component to improving the area.
“Just critical mass of people in downtown changes the dynamic that we have on the street and we’ve been shut down for a couple of years, now we’re seeing downtown come back,” he said.
“We have 25 acres in the long-term plan and we want to make sure that people not only enjoy downtown but want to come on a regular basis whether they’re an Edmontonian or a visitor to this part of the world.”
As part of the store’s grand-opening, a $20,000 donation was made to Food Banks Alberta, one part of an ongoing effort to help fight hunger.
“We will collect donations on behalf of the food bank from our customers and we also would freeze our close dated items and donate them to Edmonton’s Food Bank directly,” said He.
A $2,000 donation was also made to the Children’s Autism Services of Edmonton.
“Every Tuesday we’ll have days, sensory friendly shopping experience event for two hours so we’ll have dimmed lights, we’ll have sound control in the store so that children being touched by autism and their family can come over here and have a great shopping experience with us,” He said.