Day 2 | Local Government Approaches to Downtown Recovery

What are local governments and downtown business associations doing to recover, and what support and policy changes are needed to support them? How can we rethink land-uses, building configurations, public space, ground floor retail, zoning rules and taxes to strengthen our downtowns?

Full Panel
Transcript

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to events@canurb.org with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary Rowe [00:00:05] Ok, now we’re going to Segway over to local government approaches to downtown recovery, and I did not prime Carol to give you that shout out, Tom, but she did. So we’re going to talk specifically about what are local governments able to do and what our, you know, their companion efforts with community, with Business Improvement Area and Business Improvement District organizations doing because a lot of this is happening at the most local level. And we also have Chris Glaisek here, who is part of a locally focused but tri-level try order, government supported initiative focusing on waterfront. So I’m just going to pass immediately to my colleague, who’s a board member. I should actually say is really technically my boss and I’m hoping he’s here. Sadhu, you here?

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:00:46] Yeah, I’m here. 

 

Mary Rowe [00:00:46] I can listen to you. Yeah, you’re here. Sadhu is speaking to us from the wilds of Cortes Island. I think I recognize that backdrop, and he actually is on the board of CUI. And he’s the former city manager for the city of Vancouver and worked in the U.S. like I did. So we’ve known each other a long time and I appreciate you coming on and talking about the really dynamic ways that municipal staff and BIA’s staff are leading on this. So over to you. Thanks, Sadhu. Thanks, everybody. Great to see you. I’ll come back on at the end. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:01:13] Great. Thanks Mary. Thanks for uh and Carole, thanks for setting the stage for this panel. Thank you. You helped to lay track for us to have a good discussion on this. So yeah, again, I wanted to recognize I’m talking to you from the traditional territories to the Klahoose, the Tla’amin and the Homalco. Their traditional unceded territories here on the West Coast of Canada. And I wanted to thank Mayor Savage and Carle Saab for setting the stage for the discussion here, really. Before Covid came about, staff and partners, city staff and partners, and BIA’s and partner organizations have been working on our downtowns and recognize the fragility and the potential, the opportunity that they represent. And that’s really what we want to talk about on the panel today is how are we going to come out of Covid stronger? What examples are there out there.  And are they working? Are they scalable? So we’re really going to go straight to hearing from cities across our country. We’re going to go from Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary to hear about their experiences and to get a sense of what’s working. Is it can can get others take up that approach. And how are you working together? Obviously, cities alone, BIAs alone. None of this can happen without us collaborating. So really want to hear your thoughts on how are you working together across the different sectors in your community to build these successful examples? So today on the panel, we’re going to have Tobias Novogrodsky, who is in for Cheryl Blackman and the interim general manager of economic development and in the city of Toronto. Sorry, economic development and culture in the city of Toronto. We’re going to hear from Christopher Glaisek, the chief planning and design officer for Waterfront Toronto. So we’re going to have a good example from Toronto. We’re going to hear from Josh Neubauer, a principal at Urban Strategies, on their approach to this, how they’re working with cities. And then we’ll be hearing from Puneeta McBryan and Tom Girvan. Puneeta is executive director of Edmonton Downtown BIA. And Tom is the manager of strategic investment for the City of Edmonton. So we get a chance to hear how they’re working together and doing that, doing their work. And then we’re going to hear get that Calgary example that we’ve been told. We’ve already been some getting some some teasers for, and we’re going to hear from Thom Mahler with the the director of the Downtown Strategy for Calgary. So that’s our lineup for today. Great group of folks. Thank you so much for joining us. So why don’t we start with Toronto and we’ll work our way, we’ll work our way west. So maybe, Tobias, do you want to kick us off? 

 

Tobias Novogrodsky [00:04:01] Sure. Thanks so much and thanks Sadhu and thank you to the CUI and its staff for organizing this terrific conference. So I’m going to speak briefly to three types of small business support measures, which Toronto is focused on to assist the recovery of business activity in our city’s core. And as we’ve heard in other sessions, business support measures also require consideration of and can contribute to a host of broader issues that are impacting the vitality of our downtown. But given the time available, I’m just going to hone in on three items. And for each, I’m briefly going to describe what we’ve done so far in Toronto, what we can learn and what else can be considered going forward. So I want to speak about imaginative reuse of space and what we call the café TO program. I want to talk about targeted small and retail business support programing and funding made possible through intergovernmental collaboration and funding. And then I’m going to talk briefly about local taxation. So let’s start with the imaginative reuse of space. So cafe TO has been to date the principal COVID-19 response and recovery program supporting small businesses, primarily restaurants and bars, which involves the imaginative repurposing of space and for those who are not familiar with it. Toronto, like other jurisdictions, has essentially turned over curb lanes in many city streets to allow restaurants and bars to extend their retail footprint into the public right of way. And the program, which was initially a temporary and time limited measure, is now on a path to permanency. There’s a lot to say about Cafe TO, but I want to highlight three things. First, it was developed and delivered by the city in very close collaboration with BIAs and business operators themselves, as well as multiple city government divisions. So everyone’s had to learn to work together a bit differently in real time in order to deliver real results. Secondly, the program is premised on the notion that streets have both instrumental and intrinsic value, that they are places not only for passing through or along especially while in a car, but also places for people to linger in. And so the Cafe TO program, in this sense understands that restaurants don’t just offer a service, they offer an experience, and that downtown retail economy is not just a service economy, it’s also an experience economy, and there’s an important difference. And then lastly, as the program has matured and in order to put it on a path to permanency, the city has come to view and frame it in a more expansive manner. So, Cafe TO is now the banner name City efforts to support outdoor dining more generally. And it actually has three distinct but related streams, patios in the curb lane, patios on sidewalks, but also patios on private property. And this may seem technical and unimportant, but it’s actually essential. Why? Because it’s easier to sustain public investment and support for long term complex programs, including and especially programs which benefit downtown to a high degree. When the whole city, the downtown, the Midtown, and in our case, inner suburban areas can see themselves connected to and benefiting from that program. I’m going to move on quickly to what we are so calling our Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild initiative, which involves six discrete programs to support small businesses and retail recovery in Toronto, including hard hit businesses in the core. This initiative is funded primarily by the government of Canada through an $18 million contribution from FedDev Ontario, which is being flowed over two and a half years, and that two and a half year runway gives us time to try different things. Toronto is deeply appreciative for this funding from the government of Canada and not just for the money itself, which is, of course, welcome, but also for what we hope it represents for the longer term, by which I mean seeing support for small businesses in urban centers, including our downtowns as a core, not just tangential element of Canadian industrial policy and investment. So I’m going to put a link on the chat to the Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative program, so you can read more about them. But I want to highlight just briefly a couple elements of what this program represents in the collective and in the aggregate. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:08:37] Tobias, just a time check here. We’re just at about four minutes, so we’re going to wrap up pretty soon, I hope. 

 

Tobias Novogrodsky [00:08:42] Ok. Yeah. So I just want to say these programs are meant to support businesses and entrepreneurs at different stages of their lifecycle, from startup to growth. The programs have impacts for small businesses downtown, but again, our citywide. And that’s important, too, to sustain them as to send political support for it. And finally, the program’s focus on different actors within the retail and small business ecosystem. So there are programs for commercial operators, but also for BIAs, as well as other nonprofits that work with commercial operators. So I’m going to pause there in the interest of time. And if we can come back to the issue of taxation, I think it’s one, well, I want to talk about that later. Thank you very much. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:09:28] Thanks so much, sorry for letting me interject there. It’s the worst job ever being a moderator. You got to cut people off when they’re then talking about great things, so I really appreciate that. Great to hear about those patios and I love the path the permanency. Like that is to me, one of the things that’s coming out of Covid is learning about trying new things under stressful circumstances and then realizing that we can keep them going. So that’s a, I love that that approach. So thank you so much, Tobias. And let’s stick with Toronto and hear from Christopher Glaisek who’s the chief planning design officer for Waterfront Toronto. And Chris, you got about four minutes. Want to jump in 

 

Christopher Glaisek [00:10:04] Can you guys see my screen. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:10:05] Yes, we can. Thanks. 

 

Christopher Glaisek [00:10:07] Yeah, so I want to talk about parks, resilience and recovery. I think these things three things are very related. Think what we’ve seen is post-COVID. We’ve learned the public space is one of the critical pressure relief valves for people and something people want. And in surveys, we’ve seen as many as 80 percent of people saying waterfront revitalization is going to be key to our post-pandemic recovery. I can tell you that our waterfront was used at historically high levels over these past two summers, and every inch of shoreline has been crowded. Our waterfront evolve radically and just humor me for two seconds. We used to have the largest marsh on the Great Lakes, which got filled in for industry in the early 20th century, and the river got put into a channel. And when you intervene with natural systems, to that extent, big things happen. Hurricane Hazel in the Humber destroyed thousands of homes and gave us our biggest park. And it was that kind of a challenge that led to the creation of Waterfront Toronto. These big problems need government to help find solutions that are too big in the private sector to be asked to carry them by themselves. So our approach to flood protection was an integrated approach, and I think that’s the lesson that we should all take away. So we looked for not only a flood protection, but also habitat restoration and also doing it in a way that was integrated with new development. So bringing ecology and natural systems to the city, we designed a whole new idea for how to flood protect the Don with new channels and integrate it with development. And integral to this is about 100 new acres of parks and open space being added to the city and not just plain jane open space, but open space with diverse programing. To fulfill the requirements of our very diverse population so that people can recreate and in different ways and get out of their apartments. And I think this is partly what made the waterfront popular during Covid as well. All of these things really can integrate well. We’re bringing Indigenous design into this project. We’ve hired MinoKamik Collective to be our Indigenous design consultant. We’re going to look for actually Indigenous stewardship of these parks, as well as inclusion of Indigenous plantings, elements and places for Indigenous ceremony. And we’re building all of this, and we’re able to build it again because it is an integrated solution that delivers something for everybody and delivers flood protection. It delivers new habitat and it also delivers a public realm that will be used by people and we’re about halfway through the construction. This is the brand new river mouth and valley being excavated for the Don. This is the environmental lining that is being put in place to protect the river from contamination, and these are old pieces of landfill. And then this is what goes on top is a whole new aquatic habitat stabilization features that enable the river to flow without eroding everything. And that enables us to build upland here, a robust park system. And we’ve created a whole series of new bridges that connect over the new river and will actually link people downtown with the park system. So this will become part of a post-COVID world. And I think the lesson here is we need to look for ways to integrate parks and public spaces or infrastructure projects. I don’t think Toronto has a great history of doing that. We tend to think infrastructure is a one bucket over here in parks or in some other bucket over there. We have to stop treating them as an either, or it has to be a both end solution. So that’s my very speedy intro. That’s not part of the presentation. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:14:03] Thank- you so much. Thanks Chris. Your timing was perfect. Thank you for that and integrating parks and open space. And I think we heard from Tobias how much people are appreciating. Being outside in the patio is the life that it brings. You’re talking about how do we make that in perpetuity and really integrate. So you’re not just going off into nature to a park, but as part of your daily life. So thank you for that and and you’re making it beautiful too, bridges is gorgeous. So, nice to hear the Toronto story there. Why don’t we, why don’t we transition to. We’ll move a little West here. We’ll transition to, well, why don’t we actually, let’s Josh. If you’re if you’re ready, why don’t you jump in and give us give us a little overview on urban strategies. 

 

Josh Neubauer [00:14:50] Sure, and I’m actually bringing this slightly western perspective from Hamilton and maybe a different perspective than the rest of the experts on this panel who are more directly involved in actually delivering solutions. I’m going to talk about a process and maybe advocate for a process that I was lucky to be part of early in Covid, which was in the very early days of Covid and Hamilton, really, when everything was essentially shut down businesses, most businesses, lots of open spaces and all of the sort of public spaces we typically enjoy in the downtown, were kind of shut down. We undertook a process with a whole bunch of folks we’ve gotten to know in Hamilton, and we all decided to get together over a series of three sessions over three weeks to talk about what we could do as as urbanists outside of the official decision making process to think about how to actually respond in planning and design to be more ready for pandemics going forward to support downtown life. The result of which was a collaborative idea paper. And again, this was outside of anyone’s day job or anyone’s individual projects or portfolios. It was simple, simply sort of a parallel process to what the city was already undertaking in the mayor’s economic recovery task force and what some service providers are undertaking in their just recovery paper, they released. And this was kind of an additional space that complemented those processes by getting together folks that had a job related to, or an interest in or research involved in urbanism and a stake in the downtown. And what was really interesting for us is that while we came up with a bunch of very specific ideas at that moment, responding to the context of at that time in downtown Hamilton people, lots of people staying home, lots of public spaces being restricted, the Jackson Square mall becoming a very contracted sort of public space where the seating was no longer available for the people that used it. All of which kind of laid bare how ill prepared we all were for a time where we didn’t get to use our typical or technical  spaces and services, including washrooms, places to stay warm, place to stay out of the elements and the rest of it. So what we did was we came together as a group of people. What was most fantastic about this was the the breadth of people talking together outside of an official forum. We had three different planning and design firms came together to local architecture firms. We had the YWCA Hamilton. We had economic development and mobility staff in the city of Hamilton. And I saw Judy Lamb in the chat earlier. So I’m glad to see that there are some folks in the city are listening in. And we had also folks in the business community. We had a local restaurateur and people from the Hamilton Hive entrepreneur group. So a really good cross-section. And again, I can give them some of the specific ideas made by things in the chat, and maybe we get through the discussion. But it was more complementing the official processes with a bit more depth and a forum for creativity and digging down on issues that were really important to people that were related to this. And so working together, we advanced a number and I’m going to flip through pages without really talking about them, talking about how open space can support downtown life. And we heard a lot already in the two other panelists talking about how the mobility system, both in terms of transit provision and how we link spaces up for people to use, can support that. Talk about what supports need to be put in place for local business, but also how the public realm parks and even parking lots and downtown Hamilton should be reimagined to it, to use those spaces better. And of course, we also talked about housing. How do we how do we compete with the rush towards single family housing in a time like this to keep that density and that vibrancy in a way that’s helped promote in downtown places. So think about how we design and densify places downtown. It’s an awful lot to go through, and so I’m not going to go through it in great detail. But what we did, what I hope others would do in processes like this and to reach out to the different sectors involved in urbanism is to think about how these different systems connect. And these were admittedly quick ideas from a loose collective of people in the very earliest days of Covid, when understanding was scarce, I would say. But the magic of this kind of process was really thinking about how to link up the different ideas of how do you leverage the parking lots to help with it with delivery for downtown businesses? How do you leverage your sidewalks for both mobility and business use? How do you keep parks open and also free up the use is permitted in parks to let people run businesses or do their daily activities and on and on. And so Sadhu, I see you, prompting me for time, and maybe I’ll leave it there and pick it up in the conversation. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:19:15] All right. Great. A great reader of body language. Thanks, Josh. And it’s really important to introduce just the question of process, like, how do we do this work? And again, I think Covid is broken down. So many barriers, like things that would take us two years are taking us a month. As we’re trying to redefine how we use spaces and how we work together. And so thanks for that example. And ok, so we’re going to continue our journey West here then, and we’re going to hear from from Edmonton and Pueeta, do you want to you want to kick us off? 

 

Puneeta McBryan [00:19:52] Sure. Yeah. Thank you so much. Just going to share my screen here. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:19:56] And since there’s two of you, I’m going to give you more time, so.

 

Puneeta McBryan [00:19:59] We’ll still be speedy. We’re planning for four minutes. We’ll see. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:20:04] Ok ok, well, if you need it. If you need a little bit of extra. Go ahead. 

 

Puneeta McBryan [00:20:10] All right, so we are coming to you today from Edmonton Treaty Six Territory and Metis Homelands Region Four. I’m going to turn it over to my colleague Tom Girvan to start us off and talk about the most recent but actually let me introduce myself first. My name is Puneeta McBryan and I’m from the downtown Edmonton BIA. And Tom is going to speak to us from the city about the most recent body of work that the city of Edmonton has done around downtown vibrancy. 

 

Tom Girvan [00:20:37] Thanks, Puneeta, and good morning from the West. Good afternoon to many of you out there. And I’d like to talk about Edmonton’s downtown vibrancy strategy. And I want to start by explaining how it fits in with other key city strategies. First being our city plan, which is a combination of the Municipal Development Plan and a transportation masterplan, which includes strategic direction for economic development from that direction. We built the Edmonton Economic Action Plan. Our 10 year roadmap to building a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable economy and stemming from the action plan is the Downtown Vibrancy Strategy, a call to action over the next two years to address the significant impacts of Covid and the changing economic realities in our core and downtown. In the strategy, it’s a nimble approach and agile to support vibrancy based on collaboration and partnership with a number of organizations with a vested interest in downtown. That’s really something that I want to hone in on today. It’s a real pillar to the strategy itself, and these organizations and stakeholders supported the development of the strategy, which has 10 actions and focuses on four key pillars downtown as a home, as a destination, as an economic hub and a safe and welcoming place. In support of this work, $5 million in funding was provided for projects to support the implementation. And they represent a broad range of opportunities. Sample of our priority actions include enhancing safety, expanding public spaces and supporting businesses. Stemming from the larger roundtable of stakeholders that helped inform the strategy is a smaller group named the Core Partners, which has been established and is responsible for funding decisions and works through to ensure the interests of the broader group is well representative decisions. The core partners include city administration and also key partners from Edmonton’s Downtown Business Association. Explore Edmonton, NAIOP which is Edmonton’s Commercial Real Estate Development Association and the downtown Edmonton Community League. To date, nine projects have been awarded funding totaling just over half a million dollars, and I’ll pass it to Puneeta, to continue the discussion. 

 

Puneeta McBryan [00:22:58] Thanks, Tom. I think it’s important to note that, so the vibrancy strategy was very much a response to Covid, and I remember during a session yesterday, this is stuck with me. You know, you never want to make big decisions in a crisis. And I think our city struck a really great balance and putting out that $5 million program and strategy in response to COVID. But we’re kind of fortunate that the city plan work in the district planning work. It’s going to be happening for Central District in Central City as identified in the plan. And still to come and that that sort of longer term continuum of work can can continue. Obviously, we’re all a little bit changed by Covid, but I think the downtown vibrancy strategy has been really key to react in the immediate term. I just want to share a few other examples of things that have happened from a BIA perspective, of course, but a lot of this was city work. That, just sheer amount of flexibility, it’s fascinating to see how nimble and responsive and flexible municipal governments can be when it’s a crisis. So much like my colleagues have been talking about, these very similar programs happen here. Pop up and temporary patio pop up retail very, very easy for any business to access these things. Lots of active transportation lanes opened up. It was easier than ever for us. This photo here is our 104th Street Promenade in downtown Edmonton. And shut that down to vehicles and opened it up to humans, throughout the year, last year. And definitely, we’ll be doing it again this year. So all this kind of responsiveness and flexibility working hand-in-hand with the BIAs with a BIA council here, of course, the chair she’s listening today. All of this could not be possible without that collaboration between the BIAs and the city. And Tom has overseen some grant programs, not only the downtown vibrancy strategy, but our Economic Action Plan grant program, which are so much more streamlined and flexible and accessible than I’ve ever seen have happen. But with grant programs like that. So that’s one key. Another really creative grant program was really focused on incentivizing residential construction. We have far too many development permits granted in our downtown for residential construction and not nearly enough shovels in the ground, and Covid obviously had a big impact on that. So this was a really creative program funded out of our downtown CRL that enabled developers to offset their property taxes for I think it was five years, five or seven years, but they broke ground in 2021. So that was massive. There’s projects that broke ground last year that absolutely would not have if this didn’t happen. And as we’ve all been talking about, residential density is going to be key to our recovery. And then just a few other really quick examples, so one of the items that was identified in her 2010 capital city downtown plan that is finally coming to life and is more needed than ever is our new Warehouse District Park. It’s going to be the largest park we’ve certainly ever had in our downtown. Although we do have proximity to the River Valley, it’s not nearly as accessible as we need green space to be for the type of residential density that we need. So this is a fourteen thousand seven hundred square meter park spanning three city blocks integrated with our LRT that’s being constructed to the West and with bike lanes cutting through as well and then Green Street integrated as well. So this is a massively exciting project that’ll be open, hopefully by 2025. Community safety is a big one, I just wanted to highlight two quick things really impressive innovation coming out of Edmonton’s police service with their help program. This is the type of partnership approach and diversion from the criminal justice system that we need to see more of. This has been huge and again would not be possible without a partnership between all of the stakeholders and parties involved. And we did our own really, really interesting partnership last year on the safety front as well, trying to build bridges between businesses and vulnerable populations. All of this stuff, we desperately need more funding and more support from all levels of government. And then two quick examples of really great municipal federal partnerships. So this was a project we took on, and it was funded both by the city’s downtown vibrancy strategy and by the federal government through PrariesCan, where we got six businesses who had never had a brick and mortar storefront before they’ve been operating at markets have been operating online. We got them into their first and first ever brick and mortar store front, and there were these gorgeous experiential environments which we were able to build with all this funding and support over 50 individual businesses and contractors and getting those spaces built out. And then just tactical urbanism. I think we all know this. This is what we’ve all been doing. And again, this work would not be possible in our case. Again, this was Downtown Spark last year, we ran a pop up park for most of last year, which I’m never doing again. But it was so needed last year and that again was funded by the city’s downtown vibrancy strategy and by the PrariesCan regional recovery. Really fun. Thank you so much. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:28:29] Ok great. Thank you so much. Really great to see the kind of collaboration that you’re co presenting and working so closely together. As my time as city manager inVancouver, that was the biggest thing that came for me, and we got great staff on the ground. I want to make a call out to Peter White, vice board in Vancouver, who works with all of our BIAs. And just the collaboration, the importance of working together, how much more we can do when we’re aligned. So you two are really demonstrating that. So thanks. Thanks for that. And real innovation coming out of it. Ok, so let’s go to Calgary next and let’s get a little snapshot of what’s happening on the ground there. Thom is here and Thom, take it away. 

 

Thom Mahler [00:29:16] Now, hopefully, you can hear me and sharing my screen. I’ll just go into slide show mode 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:29:22] Yup we can hear you and we can see your screen. 

 

Thom Mahler [00:29:25] All right. So just really quickly, we’ve been at this, you know, the pandemic is obviously something we’re dealing with, like in all other cities, but we’ve been dealing with a devastated downtown since 2014, and we’ve been working on strategies that we it’s not just about getting through the pandemic, it’s really about transforming our entire downtown. This slide that I’m showing you here is, shows the big. I think it’s an empty slide. This is that, the implications of what happened to our economy is that we currently have 14 million square feet vacant in our downtown core out of a total inventory of 50 million. So the good news is we have thirty five million square feet occupied, but it’s a 33 percent vacancy rate in our downtown, which is a loss of $16 billion in property value. And what that meant for the city of Calgary is when we lost that value, we had to we had to collect our financial revenue from properties outside of our downtown core. And that tax shift was a major, major negative on our business areas outside of the downtown core. Both things like main streets, shopping centers, but also our industrial areas. These are a couple of graphics. I won’t go into great detail that just show that we need to close the gap between where the downtown used to generate a ton of our tax revenue. You can see that gray line. We’re now collecting more from areas outside of the downtown, and we need to bring those those lines back together again. But while the issue is really vacancy and the downturn in our office economy, our solution to that is to look at a number of initiatives. And so it’s very much a multi-pronged approach based on attracting talent to fill the towers, reducing the vacancy through programs like office conversions, which I’ll touch on in a bit, creating great public spaces. Our downtowns are not particularly attractive to downtown residential right in the core. So a lot of interventions are needed in that regard. Safety everybody’s touched on safety. We have a number of initiatives underway to deal with the individuals experiencing homelessness and individuals who are suffering from opioid addiction. All of those are part of our program. Attracting residents, as I said, showing our office towers residential will be a big part of that. But the environment needs to be enhanced and then supporting businesses. One of the things that we need in order to track residential development is great businesses. And with the vacancy, we’ve lost thousands and thousands of employees in the downtown core and all of the businesses that used to be supported that could serve residents. Many of those have struggled, many have closed. Good news is others are opening in their place. There is some positive momentum there, and we really are looking to support both our business improvement areas and the community associations within our downtown so that they can run their own programs and take direct action on their own. The city’s seven the seven things that we’re doing the tools that we’re leveraging. Is one as we did approve a new downtown plan in April of last year, which set a new vision for our downtown, which was based much more on a mixed use residential vibrant neighborhood as opposed to just the office core for which it’s so affectionately known. We’re looking at reviewing many of our regulations that govern approvals. We’ve eliminated some significant red tape development permits for changes of use, development, permits for changing facades and small expansions. All of those can proceed just through building permits as an example. We have direct financial incentives. We are undertaking a significant program of public realm and mobility changes to change our street networks to be. I like the language Tobias used earlier, which was getting our streets to be places for people to linger, not just getting them in and out at peak time. We’re looking at all of our municipally owned land, whether that’s through using it actively so vacant parcels or parking lots to activate them. But also, I’m looking at selling them, sale leaseback. Anything that will help us generate revenue in order to implement our program. Programing and activation is a big part of what we’re doing and the people have spoken to that, I won’t go into great detail. And then marketing and communications, we need to tell a better story about what’s happening in Calgary in order to bring investment back to our downtown. At this particular slide as, our, this is what we’ve been spending most of our time on. We started off with a $45 million allocation from City Council, which was part of the overall $200 million investment in our new downtown plan and downtown strategy. But we have a goal to eliminate six million square feet of office space in the next 10 years. And we’re doing that through a direct grant to developers that get the grant at the end. So once the building of the office is actually converted to residential, once it’s ready for occupancy, they will get a grant of $75 per square foot. And it’s a maximum of ten million dollars per building, and that can be exceeded by going to council. We started off with forty five million and when we opened our program, we were very surprised and pleased that we were oversubscribed. We had 11 applications, whereas we only had funding for about five. So we went back to our council, our new council under Mayor Gondek. They gave us another $55 million. So we’re now up to $100 million of city investment into private private redevelopment of office buildings to residential. And we’re hoping to see the creation of approximately 1400 new residential units, which will remove about 1.3 million square feet of vacant office space. But what the developers have told us is just. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:34:58] Thom, I’m sorry to interrupt you that we’re over four minutes here. If we’re going to wrap up, ok. 

 

Thom Mahler [00:35:03] I’ll just leave it at that. I think I’m good for that conversation. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:35:06] Great. Thank you so much. What an impressive set of actions across the country. Really great to hear about what you all are doing and how you’re doing it. We’ve heard about process. We’ve heard about outcomes and new approaches converting commercial to residential also, thank you so much for your leadership. We’ve got just just a few minutes here and there’s a bunch of questions that are coming in on the chat and we’re not going to be able to tackle all of them. So maybe I’ll just start with the the one of the last questions that came in, was just a collaboration with the province. You’ve all talked about the challenges of, that we’re seeing with the opioid crisis and homelessness and just the street disorder that comes in. You’re trying to maintain a welcoming and safe environment for people, and there’s chaos out on the sidewalk. And those issues are really not within the jurisdiction of the municipality. They’re provincial mandates. And so I guess just the question that came up, I think Paul was asking about that, as is how supportive is the province and how are you working with them on these various initiatives? So we’ve talked a lot about City BIA, but how are we working outside of that with the province and just really quick lightning round? Tobias, you want to start on that? 

 

Tobias Novogrodsky [00:36:24] Yep, sure, thank you. I think there’s been a lot of collaboration between the city and the province on a number of these initiatives. So that we’re each looking at the levers that we have available to us and how they need to be brought together to be complementary. So just back to that Cafe TO example. The province has made changes to the licensing of alcohol permits in order to be able to make that whole system work better. So that’s one small example. Same thing would be true, in terms of the province making available to municipalities and new taxation instruments in order to provide, for example, the taxation relief to small businesses through the creation of a new small business property tax class. So we get more bank for your buck as a public sector, when different orders of government are bringing their instruments into sync with each other to achieve common purpose. But those collaboration tables need to be there if that’s going to happen. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:37:17] Yeah. Great.Thanks. So maybe we’ll Puneeta. Any thoughts and Tom on that question? 

 

Puneeta McBryan [00:37:27] Yeah, I mean, specifically on the housing and homelessness and addictions crisis. They recently, the province convened a task force on ending homelessness, which I think is really encouraging, really bringing together the social services sector, some, there’s Chinatowns BIAs representation on their, no municipal representation, which I think tells you a little bit about some of that strained relationship challenge, but I’m really encouraged by that work. They’re having the right conversations, and I think they flagged early on. I mean, it was convened by community and social services, but we’re not just talking about housing. This is health care, this is a social safety net. This is a justice problem. So I think those ministries are working closely together and they’re certainly doing what they can at the service delivery level to collaborate and find what the gaps are and solutions are. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:38:23] Thanks. And, Thom, from Calgary’s perspective, any thoughts on that? 

 

Thom Mahler [00:38:29] Yeah, just really quickly, the province did set up a task force to deal specifically with Calgary’s downtown, and it’s a there’s a roundtable of many of the key stakeholders, and they’ve been working away at that for a number of months since the summer. And they’re looking to report soon. So we are. There’s been lots of conversations within the community about where the province can play a role, and we’re waiting to hear from them in the next coming weeks and months. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:38:55] Thanks. So I’m going to do a quick lightning round, to close the panel here, and it’s really about innovation, from my perspective, what you’ve all talked about, like the things that you’ve been able to do in the short period of time that you’ve done, it would would take years normally. And so you’ve just through this crisis, we’ve shortened the innovation cycle. And I just, from what I’ve seen. We’ve been able to do things that there might be a lot of resistance to normally. And so each of you would just would love to hear your thoughts on kind of what lessons learned out of this period for pursuing innovation and bringing people onside to help with the initiative. And we’ll just each of you maybe in closing your thoughts on kind of, what do we learned on how to innovate and how we work together to do this coming out of this and and really like, what does that mean for the future? I mean, Thom is talking about Calgary. It’s not just about dealing with the pandemic, but long term challenges that they’re going to be hopefully resolved, partly through the work that you’re doing now. So why don’t we just each of you in closing kind of share your thoughts on on that and why don’t we start? Chris, do you want to start on that? 

 

Christopher Glaisek [00:40:09] Well, I mean, the project I showed, in fairness, was in development long before Covid came along. So it’s not an immediate response, but we do have an immediate, more immediate responses, a project we call parliament slip. So one of our former industrial slips at the foot of Parliament Street on the eastern waterfront in Toronto has been sitting there largely unused, building on the momentum of our river project. We did. We did say, You know what? We need more and we need it soon and we need a more downtown to slip. Some of the land around it provides a great opportunity. And so we have approached governments to fund this on a more emergency basis, if you will. I mean, the project will still take a couple of years to build. But I think capitalizing on the sense of urgency now is important because, you know, park projects don’t happen like pop up cafe. They take longer time to do, but they’re going to take a longer time to do forever. So the sooner we start on more of them, the sooner we’ll have them in place and we’ll have more more resilience for things like COVID in the future. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:41:25] Yeah, great. Thanks. Thanks for that. So let’s see. Josh, any thoughts on that? You kind of pioneered a little bit of a new process. Thoughts on kind of what that means for moving forward? 

 

Josh Neubauer [00:41:39] Yeah, I’d say the lesson learned for myself and all of the folks who’ve been collaborating, collaborating with is just being, even if you’re not right at the official table is being proactive and finding ways to generate ideas together and push those out to the folks that are making decisions and just picking up like what Chris just said, is that idea that we need to be ready making sure we’re actually planning for it to be ready for next time. And whether that’s the next variant, whether that’s another public health issue, whether that’s climate change and that will certainly be a public health issue. Is with all the creativity it’s been generated and all the flexibility with respect to temporary measures that’s come forward. What permanent investments and new ways of thinking are we actually going to pursue now? The most obvious example for me would be the open spaces, and that was a big point of discussion with the people I was collaborating with, which is what have we really rethought our public spaces to be supportive of folks that are in the greatest need so that next time there’s a public health crisis or a pandemic, they’re not seen as a nuisance or something to be scared of in a downtown, but the public spaces are supporting them on top of all the services that everyone else spoke so eloquently about here. And then, of course, affordable housing. But have we put in place public washrooms how we put in place hand-washing stations? Have we put places to cool people down in the summertime as heat increases every year? Are we are we creating hostile open spaces where we’re removing people from encampments? Or are we supporting better and in doing, if we did that better, could we make everyone in the downtown feel more comfortable? And I feel like the welcome there. Ok. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:43:08] Thanks, Josh. Great. So we’ll we’ll keep going around here. So, Thom from Calgary, closing thoughts on that. 

 

Thom Mahler [00:43:18] Sure. Just really quickly. I guess for us, the biggest realization was that most of our stakeholders in our downtown are on the same page or pushed pulling in the same direction, maybe slightly different attention. But but we have to move fast. The thing that we’ve done best as we let go, and we’ve given the ability for groups to act on their own where possible. We’re doing things like direct grants to private developers not saying, Oh, they don’t deserve them. The idea is we need our developers and the developers have been amazing at supporting the city initiatives that support their investments, and I think our council has really bought into this. They’re an enabler. They’re not necessarily a regulator. And I think if we keep doing that, it’s a new way of working. And we’re really excited about those new partnerships that have been developed. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:44:08] Well, that’s totally great points being an enabler. I think the city as an enabler is a really, really key point there and letting go. To hear, a city person say that is really revolutionary because we’re often trying to manage everything so the enabler versus the regulator. As Paul MacKinnon said on the chat, a terrific mindset shift. So there’s lots that’s come out of this. Thanks for those great closing thoughts. O, let’s see Puneeta and Tom. Any thoughts on this? 

 

Tom Girvan [00:44:44] Yeah, I think the importance, we can move a lot quicker when we work in collaboration with our key partners and other stakeholders, similar to Thom. But you know, the city is where, we’re one of many city builders. There’s lots of people that have an interest in building a great city and working collaboration both across city departments, which we’ve seen really great support of internally here at the city, but also with key partners like the BIAs and other groups. We get a lot more done and a lot more impactful because it represents the real opportunities. So, you know, we continue to focus on relationship building and working in tandem with our partners to build a great city and really excited about some of the programs that we have in place and the future of our downtown. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:45:33] Great, thanks. Let’s see Mary’s back on, so I’m getting nervous, you’re kind of sweating under the collar. We’re over time here, but Puneeta, anything you want to add to that? 

 

Puneeta McBryan [00:45:42] No, I think Tom said it well, I’ll just add that the key word here, I think, is trust. And I’ve seen so many of our partners and stakeholders and city builders show a lot of trust to each other and all directions, and that’s been key to moving things quickly and effectively. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:45:58] Yeah, great. Very, very good point. Thank you. Trust, has been built in trying new things and finding that they actually work and people like them, which is really a great part of this whole thing is a lot of the things we’ve all been talking about for a long time. People are responding very favorably to through this, through this whole experience. Ok, so Tobias, you open this up and you get to close this down here with the last thoughts. 

 

Tobias Novogrodsky [00:46:20] Oh, thanks very much. I agree with what everyone has said, and I think, you know, in addition to being an enabler of collaboration, cities can also directly incent it, by through their regulations. Through the funding that they provide. They can incent and enable that collaboration across sectors and across different constituencies who all have a stake in the success of our cities, our core, but our cities as a whole. So I think we can be emboldened through this period to try some different things to let go. Love that expression, but to let go and in a really thoughtful way by allowing the best of what each different stakeholder can bring to the table. 

 

Sadhu Johnston [00:47:04] Ok. This is actually more like therapy for city people, we’ve got to let go. We can be emboldened. So you all have done a great job. You are under the gun there with a very short period of time to raise some very important case studies and examples. So thank you to all of you. Really appreciate it and for your leadership. It’s just, it’s so encouraging to hear about all the amazing things that are happening across this country. And it’s a really great session, a really a pleasure to be on with all of you. Mary, thanks for the opportunity. Thanks for setting the stage, and I will hand it over back to you. 

 

Mary Rowe [00:47:39] Thank you for doing this Sadhu and always wonderful to see different context in which people participate. Tobias, Christopher, Josh, Thom, Tom, and Puneeta. We did see the joke in the chat about this. This session might win the best hair session because there are a bunch of full head of hair people on here, Tom. With all due respect 

 

Tom Girvan [00:47:59] And really glad to contribute to that, that award, I think I probably should accept it on behalf of the group. 

 

Mary Rowe [00:48:05] You know, this idea of city as enabler, city is platform, right? But even government as enabler. I think that we started the session, the session today with Mike Savage and Carole Saab talking about municipal leadership at the elected level. And I think just fabulous to follow it up as suggested, with all these tangible examples of things that you’re laying the track for, and now the question is, what are other stakeholders going to do with it and how do they actually work with you to kind of realize the kind of changes that we all know are necessary and also that we’ve been compelled. I love this trust notion. Thank you for raising this because during COVID, we have had to demonstrate an exercise, a higher degree of trust, haven’t we? So let’s hope with some of these things need to stick. Patios need to stick. Let’s hope trust we can build more trust. I love that idea. So we’re going to take a break and then we’re going to come back again and wonderful foundation that you’ve built here because we’re coming back to hear from chambers of commerce leaders about what the role of business needs to be in actually shepherding this recovery, whatever it’s going to look like. So we’re going to hear from Calgary, Montreal, Halifax and Toronto, from the CEOs of each of those chambers, specifically about the role of business, in business leading with you as you enable them economic recovery. So thanks, gang, really great to see you and I appreciate you’re all really busy doing a whole bunch of things. So thank you for sharing your experience with the broader audience today and everybody else. See you back here in nine minutes. Listen to some music. In the meantime, I’ll see it back in nine. 

 

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact events@canurb.org with “Chat Comments” in the subject lin

From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk

Canadian Urban Institute:COMING UP:   Local Government Approaches to Downtown Recovery (12:30 – 1:15pm ET) with Tobias Novogrodsky, Director, Business Growth Services
Economic Development & Culture, City of Toronto; Christopher Glaisek, Chief Planning and Design Officer, Waterfront Toronto; Josh Neubauer, Principal, Urban Strategies; Puneeta McBryan, Executive Director, Edmonton Downtown Business Association; Thom Mahler, Director, Downtown Strategy, City of Calgary; Tom Girvan, Manager, Strategic Investment, City of Edmonton and Sadhu Johnston, former City Manager, City of Vancouver

This Summit would have not been possible without the incredible support of our partners and sponsors. Please visit www.canurb.org/citysummit for the full list of sponsors.

00:54:02 Mark van Elsberg: And as automobile drivers don’t pay their fair share to maintain roads, we need the same for all modes.  And should be considered the same as pavement, funded the same way.

00:54:17 Annie MacInnis: Hello from Kensington Calgary. Forgot to sign in but listening avidly!

00:54:55 Lisa Chong: hello Annie! Joining from Calgary also

00:56:46 Maria Bravo: Bonjour from Montréal!

00:56:59 Canadian Urban Institute: Sadhu was the City Manager at the City of Vancouver between 2016 and 2021. During his tenure, he supported Council in making Vancouver an even more vibrant and sustainable community.

In his role, Sadhu has helped to solve a long-standing challenge with the purchase of the Arbutus Greenway, thereby creating an 11 km greenway across the city. He has received support from Council to replace the aged viaducts accessing Downtown with a road network and revitalized neighborhood.

Prior to serving in this role, Sadhu served for seven years as the deputy city manager, where he helped to oversee the development and implementation of Vancouver’s Greenest City Action Plan, which builds off of Vancouver’s successes in building a green city. Vancouver’s greenhouse gas emissions are currently 6% below 1990 levels despite a growth in population of 30% and an increase in jobs of over 20%.

00:57:16 Canadian Urban Institute: Josh Neubauer is an urban planner with experience with complex planning and infrastructure projects in Canada, the US, and in the UK. Development strategies and master planning are a core part of Josh’s work. He is currently the project manager for the master planning and municipal approvals for the Stelco employment site in Hamilton, Ontario, and is the project manager on major projects in the GTA including the 2280 Dundas West mixed use development in Toronto and several policy and development approvals for Oxford Properties’ lands in Downtown Mississauga.

00:57:20 Cherie Klassen: Edmonton BIAs represent! Yay Puneeta!

00:57:31 Canadian Urban Institute: Thom Mahler is the Manager of Urban Initiatives with the City of Calgary where he is responsible for leading teams and projects in strategic growth areas of the City. He is also currently serving as the Program Lead for the City’s new Downtown Strategy in collaboration with Calgary Economic Development, the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation and Downtown Business Improvement Areas. Thom has over 30 years of experience in city planning and has worked in the areas of development review, urban design, policy planning and economic development.  In addition to his 15 years of experience with the City of Calgary, he has also practiced in Southwestern Ontario and the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.  He holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Arts, Honours degree in geography from the University of Manitoba.

00:57:45 Canadian Urban Institute: Chris Glaisek is the Chief Planning and Design Officer at Waterfront Toronto and is a passionate advocate for design excellence in the public realm. He is a strong promoter of sustainable city building and making great urban neighborhoods come to life. He is responsible for conceiving planning and design initiatives and managing detailed design for Waterfront Toronto projects in the 2,000-acre Designated Waterfront Area and strives to ensure high standards are achieved in development of parks and public realm, new buildings, streetscapes and infrastructure. Under Chris’s stewardship, Waterfront Toronto has received more than 60 national and international design awards and nominations for its master plans, parks, and streetscape designs.

00:57:57 Canadian Urban Institute: Puneeta McBryan is Executive Director of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association, where she is working hard to secure the ongoing and renewed vibrancy of Downtown Edmonton, having taken on the role in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as downtowns across North America grappled with the new realities and challenges ahead. Prior to joining the EDBA, she served public and private sector clients across Alberta as a marketing & communications consultant and business strategist. A transformational leader and a connector by nature, Puneeta is working to support Edmonton’s economic recovery and transformation through innovative new initiatives & community collaborations with downtown stakeholders, the business community, and all three levels of government.

00:58:11 Canadian Urban Institute: Tom Girvan is Manager, Strategic Investment for the City of Edmonton, a role focused on the Downtown Vibrancy Strategy. As someone with a love of Edmonton’s downtown having lived and worked there for nearly a decade, one of the most exciting parts of this work is the opportunity to develop relationships with people, businesses and organizations with a vested interest in the future of downtown Edmonton.

00:58:28 Ralph Cipolla: Ralph cipolla joining from the sunshine city Orillia Ontario…great presentations thank you

01:00:06 Judith Cox: Hi Ralph, lots of fabulous information !!

01:00:08 Meg Marshall: CafeTO is a wonderful program! And is getting better every year!

01:00:19 Meg Marshall: I helped 4 neighbrouhoods set theirs up

01:00:23 Terry Guiel: Will AGCO continue to be flexible with patio’s?

01:00:42 Meg Marshall: We have provided a lot of feedback to ensure it gets better every year :0

01:00:45 Meg Marshall: 😀

01:01:02 Meg Marshall: AGCO has allowed a business patio to operate up to 10M from their storefront

01:03:03 Mary Pattion: Hello from ShopLocal2Win – very eager to learn how we can further apply our 40+ years of combined experience in tourism, marketing and retail engagement to help with the economic recovery and future resiliency of Main Streets across our country.

01:08:40 Patrick Sullivan: Great Bridge, made in Halifax, and placed in Toronto!

01:11:01 Paul LaRose: Actually two identical bridges from Nova Scotia and floated down the seaway to their resting spot

01:12:45 Mark van Elsberg: CafeTO highlights how our streets can be used differently,  and when we rebalance the remaining curb space including improving safety, creating space for streetfurniture and other improvements with trees, swm infrastructure and others we can really change our Centres and our main streets.   This last snow fall in TO highlights how much space we actually need.  Snow occupies more than 30% of our streets and traffic continues to flow.  Lets freeze this moment in time and reuse this snow as a tactical urbanism template\

01:13:36 Terry Guiel: Public spaces are great but they are being taken over by the homeless and littered with discarded needles.  Patio’s are great but the constant harassment of aggressive panhandlers hinders the use and enjoyment of them.

01:15:03 Josh Neubauer: Here is a link to the collaborative idea paper: https://collabsessions.ca/collaborative-session-2/?lang=en

01:15:31 Tzu Chen Wang: With most of the small business owners finding rent to the biggest challenge to success, and commercial real estate company (landlords) not understanding how tough the COVID situation has on business, what do y’all think will be the right way forward to ensure our small businesses are protected?

01:16:17 Tobias Novogrodsky: Here is the link to more info about the Toronto Main Street Recovery and Renewal Initiative: https://www.toronto.ca/business-economy/business-operation-growth/business-incentives/toronto-main-street-recovery-and-rebuild-initiative/

01:19:30 Terry Guiel: Puneeta, the number of homelessness in Edmonton has double during Covid.  2,800 people living rough according to recent stats.  A lack of shelters is part of the issue.  What are your cities strategies on this?

01:19:49 Cynthia Wilkey: I think Toronto’s CafeTO program demonstrated to resistant small business owners that creating space for cafes and separated bike lanes was good for business.  Parking, a peren

01:19:59 Trina MacDonald: Can we get a copy of this presentation

01:20:37 Canadian Urban Institute: Hi Trina, all the presentations will be posted along with the recordings next week.

01:21:21 Terry Guiel: Love to hear more about HELP Program.  Love to connect with you Puneeta and hear more.  terry@ptbodbia.ca

01:21:42 Cynthia Wilkey: Continued with CafeTO – Parking was integrated into the design which was important to getting business support for the pilot,  But I suspect the big learning was the way the Cafe’s and bike lanes brought lots of foot traffic and customers out on the street during the COVID restrictions

01:22:49 Ken Kelly: GO Peter GO!

01:22:50 Mariah Samji: great job Edmonton team!

01:22:53 paul mackinnon: Great job Edmonton. Great partnership between city and BIAs can lead to great things.

01:23:35 Kay Matthews: Love using alleyways for bicycle lanes as there is so much competition for the sidewalk and roadways.

01:26:43 Cherie Klassen: In Old Strathcona BIA, we took expanded patio space to the curb lane with beautifying it and providing seating. Here’s some of what we did. https://oldstrathcona.ca/whyte-ave-sidewalks-growing-again/

01:27:25 paul mackinnon: How supportive is the provincial government in AB of downtown initiatives in Edmonton and Calgary? What role does CLDC play?

01:28:40 Stephanie Beausoleil: excellent

01:28:42 Jamie Van Ymeren: How did you land on your target for what level of residential units you needed vs commercial space

01:28:46 Laurel Davies Snyder: Do communications initiatives fit into anyone’s downtown/core area strategies and action plans?  Not only marketing and promotion, but also building awareness, understanding & ongoing dialogue about “urbanity” including but not limited to city growth and change, how shaping the city in deliberate ways makes a difference, what can be changed (and what can’t), communicating data in a clear and accessible way, exploring “urban myths”, etc..  thank you.

01:29:17 Tom Girvan: Hi Terry, Thanks for the question. The City is committed to ensuring the safety of people experiencing homelessness in the downtown core, as well as the businesses that contribute so much to Edmonton’s vibrancy and economic success. We work with a variety of partners organizations and community groups (including overnight and daytime shelters, peace officers, volunteer cleanliness groups, and empowerment teams) to keep downtown clean, safe and address the factors that contribute to  social disorder

01:29:18 Mark van Elsberg: Can we work together with all City’s to take Tactical Urbanism to a new level . With City standards, provincial legislation to reinforce Highway regs (particularly with regards to legal responsibility of Drivers) This is how NYC was so successful.     Our city Engineers are often very supportive but always refer to the need to develop plans within standards.  Lets create a municipal “PRACTICAL URBANISM” focussed on safety and responsibility.  and empower  our communities, our BIAs and our City divisions  PLAN IT, PAINT IT and lets let everyone take part in BUILD IT.   This could be a new TAC guide

01:31:36 paul mackinnon: Great idea Mark. We have continual obstruction from city engineers on projects in the right-of-way. Who would do this work?

01:31:37 Bob van Wegen: Thom (or others) Are you considering converting one-way to two-way traffic, or narrowing wide one way roads?  To improve local habitability (vs. quick escape).

01:31:53 Michael Magnan: Will be great to see how streetside patio programs become normalized. I’m particularly interested in how this evolves into permanent, revenue neutral programs that benefit business, citizens and BIAs / gov’t partners.

01:33:48 Mark van Elsberg: This initiative really needs a working group of many municipalities.  In the past Cities have shared these ideas  Ontario has a group MUDR Municipal Urban Design Round table which has discussed this idea  CUI would be a great national version

01:35:24 Kay Matthews: The main street BIAs need to be a part of the taskforces, as they are the ones who are often cleaning up biohazards, garbage, providing naloxone, providing the washrooms and even security.

01:35:25 Mark van Elsberg: Would it be possible to end this session with an option to share contacts and to list a number of issues others might wish to continue working on?

01:35:53 Cherie Klassen: @Mark the International Downtown Association has done a lot of work on the federal level advocating for our BIAs and downtowns with various support programs. https://downtown.org/

01:37:07 Mark van Elsberg: One real opportunity highlighted in this session is to set up a working group with the local experts, the BIA’s and to build on their needs, ideas and innovations

01:38:03 paul mackinnon: Enabler vs regulator. A terrific mindset shift!

01:39:30 Mark van Elsberg: BIA’s are the underestimated Enabler.  They are the local experts, they are an arm of the city, they cost share and add to City projects, they maintain and enliven.  This is where it should start

01:40:08 Kay Matthews: Agreed Mark!

01:40:32 paul mackinnon: BIA/city collaboration also prevents finger-pointing if things don’t go well. Allows for more risk and pilot projects.

01:40:43 Robert Plitt: Mark, any thoughts on how BIA’s will evolve in the near future?

01:40:43 Kay Matthews: BIAs are investors in the Public Realm and raise their own funds to make the community better.

01:40:59 Canadian Urban Institute: Thank you Sadhu, Tobias, Chris, Josh, Puneeta, Thom and Tom for such a wonderful session.

01:41:03 Catherine Deegan: Great session !

01:41:18 Tim Kocur: Excellent session. Thanks everyone participating and commenting.

01:41:26 Cherie Klassen: Great job everyone!

01:41:35 Mary Pattion: Wonderful session!  Thank you everyone.

01:41:53 Canadian Urban Institute: We are going to take a quick 15 minute break and return at 1:30pm ET for our next session “Fuelling the Economic Recovery of Canada: the Role of Business to Lead” with

Deborah Yedlin, Calgary Chamber of Commerce
Michel Leblanc, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal  

Patrick Sullivan, Halifax Chamber of Commerce 

Jan De Silva, CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade

01:42:03 Adi Berardini: Thank you for these great presentations!

01:42:31 Mark van Elsberg: Lets set up a working group on empowering BIA’s as partners with Cities and City Constructors  and .. Govts

01:43:10 Carol Jolly:

01:45:05 John Kiru: you folks ROCK, well done. lets not let this dialog end.