A national "first of its kind" study on the value of investing in Canadian downtowns has recently been released. The International Downtowns Association - Canadian Issues Task Force engaged the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) to carry out this ground breaking research.
The project examined 10 Canadian downtowns (Halifax, Fredericton, Ottawa, Toronto, London, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria) to measure performance and build the body of knowledge on value created in downtowns as a result of investments made. It is hoped that the research will spur further investment in downtowns across Canada.
- Canadian downtowns are enjoying a period of renaissance. Downtowns are moving in positive directions such as: residential growth; building unique education, culture and entertainment offerings; while maintaining a position of commercial strength.
- Partnerships and long term commitment are crucial to maiximize revitalization efforts. The health of downtown is strongly tied to successful collaborations and partnerships aligned behind an inspired and shared vision.
- Residential growth is transforming downtowns across the country. Downtowns have experienced a renaissance in downtown living, achieving as much as 83% population growth over 10 years.
- Downtowns are maintaining a strong commercial position. While less dominant in the office and retail markets than in the past, many are experiencing a resurgence of office growth, and there are promising signs that retail will develop alternate smaller formats better suited to downtowns.
- Institutions have brought many inspiring additions to Canada's downtowns. The growth of downtown post-secondary education has substantially strengthened downtowns, and in some cases, changes have been transformational.
- Downtowns are making a major contribution to the bottom line of municipalities. While frequently occupying as little as 1% of citywide land area, downtowns often generate 10 to 20 times that in terms of municipal tax revenues, and in a few cases as much as 20-25% of all municipal tax revenues.
- Public investments on a range of scales create the foundation for future private investment. Public investments in arts, culture, entertainment, education, transit, open space and incentives downtown signal confidence and support for downtowns, which leads to the stimulation of private sector investment.
- Measuring performance of downtowns empowers decision makers to understand the value of downtowns. Continued measurement of downtown performance through time will further demonstrate and reinforce the value of public investing in downtown.
The full report is available here.