The Summit on the City
The Summit on the City: Recovering Canada’s Downtowns
As we emerge from the most acute global challenge in a generation, Canada’s largest and most economically significant downtowns have been irrevocably changed.
Join us and leaders from every sector across Canada in crafting integrated, urgent, and practical solutions for downtown recovery.
About The Summit
The Canadian Urban Institute, with partners, is planning The Summit on the City: Recovering Canada’s Downtowns on January 25 and 26, 2022.
Together, with a national network of organizations, initiatives, researchers, city staff, elected leaders, community activists, professional and industry associations, and business and corporate leaders, we are bringing the best expertise to transform our downtowns into more inclusive, just, and resilient places.
The two-day summit will feature public sessions to drive thought leadership on the future of downtowns and working table discussions with leaders across industries and sectors.
The end result: an action plan for downtown recovery that includes federal, provincial, and municipal investment priorities and policy leadership, crucial elements of the new urban agenda for Canada.
12:00pm - 12:15pm ET | Opening: Setting the Stage
Downtowns are the heart of a city—and having a healthy downtown is essential to having a strong city and region. Canada’s downtowns generate a huge percentage of our country’s economic wealth and cultural vitality. Canada’s eight largest metropolitan areas generate 55% of Canada’s GDP and are hubs of activity for commercial, cultural, educational and civic institutions. What are the key challenges facing downtowns as we recover? And what actions need to be taken to address them? The Summit on the City: Recovering Canada’s Downtowns will host a series of public conversations to discuss the challenges and changes needed to inform a new Urban Agenda for Canada after COVID-19.
12:15pm - 12:45pm ET | Why Downtowns Matter to the Canadian Economy
Downtowns in Canada have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Many elements that contribute to the economy, like tourism, business travel, events, restaurants, hotels and retail, have been significantly affected. How important are downtowns in Canada’s economic recovery? What interventions are needed to bring back and retain workers, and attract visitors and new residents?
12:45pm - 1:15pm ET | How Canada's Downtowns Compare With Cities in North America
1:15pm - 1:45pm ET | Digging into the Data: the Impact of COVID-19 on Business Areas and Tourism
Business Improvements Areas (BIA’s) play a central role to any community’s vitality. In this session, BIAs and their partners will have an opportunity to dive in and understand the impacts of the pandemic on their business areas and how visitation rates differ across the country, going back to 2019. BIA’s will be able to leverage this information to support the development of strategies to increase foot traffic and spending in their areas.
2:00pm - 2:45pm ET | Bringing People Back: Housing
The lack of housing in Canada affects all aspects of urban life. Homelessness has become especially visible in our downtowns, as shelters and support services are unable to meet the needs of unhoused communities, and the number of encampments continue to increase throughout cities. How can our downtowns adapt to include appropriate housing options for all?
3:00pm - 3:45pm ET | Bringing People Back: Transit
Transit systems in Canada are among the most impacted services from the pandemic. As more and more people switched to remote work, ridership and services plummeted, which has led to significant revenue loss. Despite this, transit continues to play a critical role in our economies and was a lifeline for people—often frontline and essential-workers to reach their places of employment. How will Canada’s public transit systems adapt after the pandemic?
4:00pm - 4:30pm ET | Challenges and Opportunities for Anchor Institutions to Rebuild Downtowns: Faith Spaces
The world’s greatest downtowns include iconic buildings and cultural attractions that appeal to locals and visitors. Throughout the pandemic, we have come to appreciate the vital importance of places and spaces that are accessible to everyone. What roles and opportunities are there for these institutions—including places traditionally affiliated with religious traditions, to restore vibrancy to downtowns and attracting residents and visitors?
5:00pm - 5:30pm ET | Challenges and Opportunities for Anchor Institutions to Rebuild Downtowns: Libraries
Libraries play a crucial role in communities, including in Canada’s downtowns. In addition to being a hub for resources, they also act as a safe place for vulnerable populations and strengthen neighbourhoods by supplying free internet access and providing support for entrepreneurs and newcomers. Two Canadian cities have invested in their downtown libraries, creating iconic meeting places for civic life. What’s their future?
12:00pm - 12:30pm ET | Day 1 Recap and Political Leadership for Downtown Recovery
12:30pm - 1:15 pm ET | Local Government Approaches to Downtown Recovery
1:30pm - 2:15 pm ET | Fuelling the Economic Recovery of Canada: the Role of Business to Lead
Businesses are the catalysts for regional economic growth. What are the key actions that different sectors (businesses, commercial real estate and different levels of government), can take to support local economies to recover in a strong, resilient and equitable way? How can they compete internationally and rebuild as places that residents, tourists and workers want to be in?
2:30pm - 3:15 pm ET | Everyone’s Responsibility: Canada's Challenge with Street Issues
Canada’s downtowns and main streets are being challenged and changed before our eyes because of COVID-19. This dire situation is being compounded by social issues like mental health and addictions, unemployment and lack of housing. This session—led by IDA Canada, will discuss the issues and the solutions from different cities across Canada.
3:30pm - 4:15pm ET | Downtown Dynamism: Rebuilding Hospitality and Culture
Canada’s hospitality, culture and tourism sectors are completely connected to the dynamism of our downtowns. Locals and tourists come to ‘the city’ for experiences they can’t find anywhere else. These activities create jobs and generate millions in tax revenue for all levels of government. Months of lock-downs have left these key sectors of our economic and civic life in a precarious position. What actions are needed to support this industry and bring people back downtown?
4:30pm - 5:00pm ET | Challenges and Opportunities for Anchor Institutions to Rebuild Downtowns: Post-Secondaries
Universities and post-secondary institutions—particularly those with campuses downtown, are inherently connected to their communities. They attract thousands of people to the core and foster innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth. Transitioning to virtual learning has had an extraordinary impact on downtowns. How will they recover and contribute to the recovery of their downtowns?
5:00pm - 6:00pm ET | What Can be Done on the Ground to Recover our Downtowns?
Sponsors and Partners
The Case for the Core
This report presents three possible scenarios for Canada’s downtowns to provoke a sharp re-thinking, spur dialogue and inspire bold action. The report makes the case for why downtowns matter, and why the experience of COVID-19 presents a profound, radical opportunity to rethink and remake them.
Restore the Core
Restore The Core is focused on supporting the recovery efforts of downtowns all across Canada through research and by engaging with stakeholders and urban leaders across the country to reimagine the future of downtowns.
For More Information
Mary W. Rowe
President and CEO