What is a “downtown” and why does it matter?  The downtown is the essential social, cultural, economic, and political hub of a municipality.  Before we get too much into its impact, first, let’s define what exactly a downtown consists of. Four  criteria define a downtown:

1) The downtown boundary had to include the City’s financial core.

2) The downtown study area had to include diverse urban elements and land uses.

3) Where possible, CUI recommended a hard edged boundary such as major streets or train tracks, or a natural feature such as a body of water.

4) An overarching consideration was that data compiled should align with the selected downtown study areas

So, what does this mean for you and your city? Well, for starters did you know that although downtowns generally occupy less than 1% of city-wide land area, they attract an average of 20% of city-wide construction value? This means that although they may not be that large in square footage, they make up for the lack of distance in density and popularity. In most cities, the downtown core is usually the financial, educational, and entertainment hub of the area. From entertainment, to professional opportunities, to lifestyle amenities, downtowns offer a variety of services to our diverse citizens. Downtowns are the heartbeat and pulse of a city; they house local businesses and their residents punch above their weight in contributing to community economic development.

Not only is the economic health of a city is directly linked to the health of its downtown core, urban centres are also the primary drivers of taxes and GDP (which requires a long-term sustainable funding program). Downtowns are a vital place in our community and need to be part of the local and national election agenda.

Here at Downtowns Canada, we have a goal of raising the profile of the role of downtowns in cities across Canada.  This September we’ll do that through Town Halls (local meetings held by partner BIAs). The Downtown Declaration outlines a national strategy for Canada’s downtowns and articulates a new federal role in downtown/urban development.  The Town Hall meetings will promote this strategy and educate federal politicians and candidates on their role within it.
Local Town Halls will be held in September in the cities of London, Winnipeg, Halifax, Charlottetown and Regina.  Connect with your local BIA to learn more! Follow us on Twitter and join the conversation using #DowntownsCA!