How have visit patterns changed on main streets?

Joining CUI host Ariana Holt for our next session in our ongoing series: How have visit patterns changed on main streets? – are presenter Rupen Seoni, Senior Vice President and Practice Leader at Environics Analytics; Kevin Narraway, Marketing Manager at the Municipality of Port Hope; Graziella Grbac, the Executive Director of the Village on Main in Dartmouth Nova Scotia; and David Pensato, the Executive Director of the Exchange District in Winnipeg. This session is co-presented with Environics Analytics.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Data drives understanding

Data analytics has a role to play in determining who shops where, how far they will travel, and what they are looking to buy. Understanding these commercial patterns are key to adapting main streets to changing conditions. Rupen Seoni, Practice Leader at Environics Analytics, contends that knowing one’s target population and the direction of economic trends can lead to better decision making when it comes to allocating hundreds of millions of investment dollars.

2. Going beyond demographics

Data analytics can go beyond basic demographic considerations such as socioeconomic status, age and ethnicity. Psychographics delve into the way people think by looking at personality, values, opinions, interests and attitudes. Combining demographics with psychographics builds a more complete picture of the factors that drive consumer behaviours. Environics Analytics’ PRIZM project has classified each of Canada’s 800,000 postal codes one of sixty-seven evocative lifestyle types. These profiles provide main street businesses a better understanding of the characteristics of their immediate markets so retailers can understand better their market.

3. Different main streets, different experiences

Main streets come in different forms and serve different functions. Seoni categorized CUI’s nine focal main street subjects into three categories: Central Business Districts, Non-Downtown Main Streets, and Small Town Main Streets. Comparing 2020 visits to pre-COVID 2019 levels reveals that streets of each category experienced different levels of decline and recovery. Tourism focused main streets have seen their transient patrons disappear while main streets that support local residents have fared much better. Each main street has its own configuration of assets and disadvantages that require a custom-tailored approach to recovery.

4. “Close in matters more than ever.”

Environics Analytics’ findings reveal that the amount of time people spend away from their home postal codes and the distances they travel are at levels much lower than before the pandemic. Main streets are increasingly becoming dependent on their immediate local markets. According to Seoni, any pandemic recovery strategy should be rooted in “local decisions that need local action and local information to help support that mission.” By better understanding the local market, main streets can tailor their services and wares to the needs of that market.

5. Improving Connectivity and Access

Increasing traffic is a key measure of success for main street recoveries. For main streets to survive the pandemic intact there is a need to get people to come out and support local businesses. David Pensato, Executive Director of the Exchange District BIZ in Winnipeg, speaks of the creation of a bike loop connecting seven adjacent neighbourhoods to the district. Kevin Narraway, Marketing Manager at Port Hope, implemented a shop local campaign. Improving convenient physical access to main streets combined with marketing campaigns can be effective ways to increase local traffic.


Additional resources

Full Panel

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 with “transcription” in the subject line.

Lisa Cavicchia [00:00:19] Hi, everyone. I’m Lisa Cavicchia. I’m the program director at the Canadian Urban Institute. Welcome to this webinar. I’m in Toronto on the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishinaabe, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, the Wendat peoples and now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and  Métis people from across Turtle Island. We recognize that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13, signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams Treaty signed with multiple Anishinaabe nations. We are mindful of a history of broken treaties and the urgent need to work towards reconciliation. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to live and work in the community and on this territory. And I invite you to think about the people who have historically lived in the place where you call home and how we might work towards reconciliation in meaningful ways. First, a little bit of housekeeping. We’re recording the session and we will share it with you on the Canadian Urban Institute website. We encourage you to use the chat function. We do ask you, please, if you go over the chat to toggle over to all panelists and attendees. That way we can all see and learn from what you’re sharing. And while you’re there, tell us where you’re from. And if you have any questions, please do feel free to ask them. Early in the spring. We launched our Bring Back the Main Street project and we’ve been working around, we’ve been doing work around downtowns and main stre  ets that we’re concerned about a myriad of issues across the country that we’re impacting on Main Streets. Both having to do with COVID, and and not. A few weeks ago, we launched our action report that has this set of proposals, specific proposals, and we encourage you to adopt some of these proposals and move forward to help our main streets out.


Lisa Cavicchia [00:02:22] OK, let’s get on with this session. So, first of all, I’m not supposed to be moderating the session. Actually, my colleague Ariana has had some computer issues, but she’s gonna jump in after our presentation. So I’m going to quickly introduce Rupen Seoni. He’s with Environics Analytics. And we Canadian Urban Institute has had a history of working with Rupen and Environics Analytics for the for at least a decade, I guess. Rupen used to be on our board. So we know him very well and we adore him and he’s full of information. And Environics Analytics really has a very interesting approach to looking at data and categorizing the people who who move around. And so we were excited to bring them on our Bring Back Main Street project, where they took a look at a series of main streets across Canada and they’re going to probe. And so Rupen is going to tell you about three main streets and what it means all over Canada and how we can sort of position ourselves to respond and in practical ways. And then our panelists from those main streets will will respond to what they’re seeing on the ground. So I’m going to pass it over to Rupen. And after the presentation is over, you’re going to see beautiful Ariana in my place. So cheers. Have a good session.


Rupen Seoni [00:03:51] Thanks so much, Lisa. It’s a it’s really fun to be here on on this on this project. And a very important project, obviously, given the changing times, the rapidly changing and evolving times that we are we are we are in at the moment. I just want to acknowledge one thing. I had a little mishap that has immobilized me just before this webinar. So I, I am on my phone and dutifully, you know, raising my leg on my couch here. So just in case anything strange happens. Please, please, just bear with me here. And then I want to acknowledge my colleague, Nader Shureih, who works very closely with with our public sector clients. He is part of my team and he is here moving the slides forward. So I’ll be directing him to do that so we can start the presentation. And I’ll just give you a little bit of a little bit of background because Environics Analytics. I mean, the reason we we’ve teamed up with with the Canadian Urban Institute and supported with some of our data on the Bring Back Main Streets project has been because we have, first of all, our tradition here. Now, before our tradition as as a company, just to give you a bit of background, is to produce a whole range of data and analytics on the Canadian marketplace. So population insights, a whole lot of information about population behaviors, media and channel optimization. For those who are trying to communicate with the population, as well as all sorts of location intelligence applications that we work with every industry. But essentially, what we what we do is we produce, our traditional business has been to produce thirty thousand data points for every one of Canada’s eight hundred thousand six digit postal codes. So covering everything from current year demographics projected to the current day and forward for 10 years. And we do that by taking census data and then triangulating other sources of data so that we have a more up to date view of the population. And then we round all this out by producing thousands of other estimates, using a variety of sources that get at the behaviors, the attitudes, the health attributes, the financial habits of of Canadians. Now, one of the things that we’ve been working with quite extensively over the last few years, and particularly since the beginning of COVID, and what makes makes some of this data particularly relevant to the Bring Back Main Streets project has been with our suite of MobileScapes data, which is using privacy compliant, consent based mobile device movement data to look at the changes in movement in the population. And what this does is it makes it makes it makes data that has been difficult to get historically and is so critical at this time because, you know, the world is changing quite rapidly. The the the the propensity of Canadians to move around in their communities is changing based on restrictions and fear and openings and closings and so on, that having very specific responsive data is really critical. And that’s what we’ve been working on over the past little while to to take all this mobile data that I think a lot of you probably heard about. You may have seen some coverage in in, you know, in how Canadians are moving out and about in their communities early in the days of COVID. There’s certainly been many pieces in The New York Times looking at Americans. We what we wanted to do was, was create a source that had enough data for Canada because that’s often a problem is having having good data for Canada in the sample and then to have the data that is weighted and projected to the population so that we can use it for trending and linking to other other data sources so that the context is there. So that’s why this that’s why we’re here, is to to contribute some of the insights to looking at Main Streets and the changes in Main Streets using this mobile data alongside of some of our other data.


Rupen Seoni [00:08:10] So where I’m going to start is giving just a few comments about what we’re seeing happening out into and in Canada generally over this period in the past year. So what you’re looking at right now is a chart that’s showing are what we call our out and about data, which is our weekly estimates for every one of Canada’s fifty thousand neighborhoods of the propensity of the population to go more than 500 meters from their home postal code. That’s what we’re defining is out and about now. So you can see as we bump along in the beginning of January, February, that numbers the numbers are high, it’s about 80 odd percent of the population leaves their home postal code and then it takes a big, big drop into, you know, into the 50 50 high 50 percent range when COVID hits and all the lockdowns start to occur. Through the summer you can see that, you know, we had a bit of a recovery. Labour Day weekend was kind of the week of Labour Day was was the pinnacle where we’d almost reach back to a some level of normalcy across the country. And then we start seeing things dropping off again where people are starting to stay home more, you know, between Labour Day and Thanksgiving. But if if you advance there’s a little bit more nuance to this that’s quite important to look at. This data we can kind of start localizing and understanding any part of the country. But and also what we’ve done is we’ve been able to look at the activities that people are doing as they’re leaving home so we can look at who’s commuting, who’s going to a commercial place for for, you know, shopping or entertainment, who is, you know, going for leisure or green space and what time of day they’re they’re they’re leaving their home postal codes. And if we look at what what the what the numbers look like from a commercial point of view, I think that’s a really important view for the Bring Back Main Street exercise where, you know, early days before COVID, about fifty seven percent of the population was leaving their home postal code in a given week for commercial purposes, going out shopping or whatever, or going to a restaurant. That dropped down to thirty six percent. So quite a big, big reduction at the depth of COVID. And we only recovered about half of that activity at at Labour Day. We were back up to about forty five percent. And since then we’ve dropped back down to forty one percent at Thanksgiving weekend. So we still have a ways to go. And obviously things are moving back, you know, where people are staying in more. And just between Labour Day and Thanksgiving, some of the metrics that we track, the typical average maximum distance from their home postal code and the time away that people are spending from their home postal code has dropped by a quarter. It’s already down, obviously, during COVID. It’s down generally. But just in those few, few short weeks, people are clearly spending less time away from their homes, engaging in their communities. We can carry on. So as an example, this is this is a map of you obviously, obviously, all this data. We can map it. And so we this is going back to just after Labour Day, looking at, you know, the population on the island of Montreal that is has a high propensity to to to be commuting to school or work. And and again, I mean, every place is different. Neighborhoods are different. You know, in downtown Montreal, the people the residents in downtown Montreal are much less likely, they’re in that cool blue color to be commuting to work or school. Whereas parts of the North Island, East Island and parts of the far reaches of the West Island are much more likely to be commuting to their workplaces. So this, as we know, as we read, has there’s a whole socio demographic profile around who’s more likely to be, you know, working out of their homes versus who’s working from home. And this is that picture on the ground. And that affects everything that we we look at on our main streets and in our neighborhoods.


Rupen Seoni [00:12:19] So if we turn this to Bring Back Main Street, as you may or may not be, be aware there are nine different Main Street areas that the Canadian Urban Institute has done extensive study on to understand what some of the challenges are on the need on Main Streets through COVID. Our contribution to this has been to look at some of the visits and visitors that are frequenting these main streets, both before COVID and now during this crisis, so that we have a better picture of how these changes are happening. So in the context of I’m going to give you a few high level insights that sort of unify on all main streets and we can break the nine areas down into sort of three groups. When we look at the pattern, so now we’re looking at monthly visits and we’ve got data right up until about five days ago, we pulled some data right up to October 23rd. And looking at the trending in how activity, what percentage of normal activity, and normal is the same month last year, are we seeing in these different main streets and these three groups of these Main Street areas kind of emerged. So so the central business districts, both downtown Montreal and the King Street area in Winnipeg, are really struggling. I mean, that those areas are continuing to struggle. If you look down the on the left, those are the percentages of the number of visits compared to a year ago. So back in April, as an example, Montreal, downtown Montreal St. Catherine Street was at 12 percent of the of the number of visits it had a year ago. Now it’s it’s climbed back up and it’s in the thirties. And, you know, King Street in Winnipeg has done a little bit better. It’s it was in the high 20s and now it’s it’s climbed back into the mid 40s. So it’s trending back upwards, but it’s got a long, slow climb. And so they really struggle just given the level of activity that we’re seeing in these central business districts. Now, if we carry on, there’s another group that I’ve called the non downtown main streets that have actually fared quite a bit better. You can see the uptrend line in all of these communities. So we’re looking at that blue line is Main Street, Dartmouth, and clearly the Atlantic bubble is showing. In fact, what’s interesting there is that through September and October, mainstream Dartmouth actually has a higher number of visits this year than it did in September and October last year. So we were curious to see how they managed to pull that one off. Given given the crisis that we’re that we’re in the middle of. But Dartmouth has done quite well, relatively speaking. The other areas in Saskatoon, Lawrence Avenue East in Toronto and then West 4th Street in Vancouver are all kind of showing a similar pattern. They’re back up at around seventy, sixty five to seventy five percent of their their visits compared to before. And they’re recovering. They’ve recovered from 40 to 60 percent back in the early days of COVID. And then if we move on, there’s another group that I’ve called the small town Main Streets, and there’s sort of small town slash tourism. All of these communities, downtown Port Hope, Water Street in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, and Water Street again in St. John’s, Newfoundland, are, you know, obviously off season they’re reliant on their local communities. So you see, you know, higher percentages of their of last year’s activity in these communities in the off season. And but all of these communities had a bit of a bump in the early months of the summer that kind of dropped off in late summer. And things are now turning to the off season. So their you know, their visits are much lower, obviously, but they’re reliant on their local communities to sustain them and they’re not back to normal. So there’s still some some, you know, some concerns here about what what winter will hold for these communities. Last thing I want to I want to say, in terms of general general patterns: close in matters more than ever. That what we’re seeing across the country is that, you know, in line with the amount of time that people are spending away from their home postal codes and the distances that they’re traveling from their home postal codes being much, much less than before. Obviously, these local markets are much more or these sorry main streets are much more dependent on their more immediate local markets. So understanding who those people are is really critical. And so at this point, what I’m going to do is turn to our three areas, representing our three panelists and just give a very quick overview of what we’re seeing on the ground in in Winnipeg, which I which I’ve mentioned already. If we if we look at Winnipeg, you can you can advance Nader. I just want to tie in some some other data to give a bit more context around some of the patterns that we’re seeing with that local market. I’m going to turn to some of our other data to help do this. And one thing that you’re going to see is our PRIZM segmentation system, which you may have seen before. But if not, I’d encourage you to go to our our our website and put in your home postal code. And what you’ll get back is a is a lifestyle segmentation assignment that we have that we have created. It’s a complex assignment of of postal codes based on their characteristics. All that data that I talked about, their demographics and spending patterns and behaviors and attitudes. We’ve basically classified into sixty seven lifestyle types, every one of Canada’s eight hundred thousand postal codes is assigned to one of these. And what this helps us do is very quickly understand the change in mix of the population of the visits that we’re seeing in each of these main street areas when you look at the pre-COVID to post-COVID timeframe.


Rupen Seoni [00:18:22] So what we’re doing here is we’re comparing the visits from last summer to this summer, basically, and in in King Street, Winnipeg area the change in visitor mix is a shift to more lower income singles and newcomers compared to what who was being seen driving the visits before. So I’ve put a few of our PRIZM segments up, just so you get a sense. I mean, a fairly evocative by the names. Midtown Movers, so a lower income group of singles that tends to be fairly mobile. They move, they’ll change home. They’re more likely to have changed homes recently. A young group of young people called the Social Networkers and a newcomer group called Came For The Way are all growing shares of visits compared to last year. And the people is the people is declared that are declining come from more of the higher socio economic groups, probably the commuters coming into downtown Winnipeg. First Class Families, Modern Suburbia and Savvy Seniors are making up a smaller share. So when we actually take some of this information and we can we can move ahead, there’s an implication for the spending mix and the activity mix that you’re going to see in the people on this on these streets, on the ground that their mix of spending will will shift. Now that that’s the estimates that we have for spending are just don’t reflect changes for COVID. We just don’t have that data at this point. But the propensity of the population that you see today is going to be categories like sports equipment, computer equipment. They’re going to be more interested in personal care and clothing. These are categories that are going to have a higher importance to the current mix and relative to before, things like child care, sporting events and recreational facilities are going to be less important to the group that’s on the ground there. Now, if we move ahead and we look at Dartmouth, the Main Street in Dartmouth, is the area that you’re seeing on screen here. We can carry on once again in Dartmouth. What we’re seeing on the ground here is there’s a there’s a larger mix of middle income families and middle income seniors from the suburbs and from the surrounding countryside that are that are making the share of visitors within within the mainstream Dartmouth and the declining share of visitors, or is coming from the more upper middle income families, as well as some of the more lower income younger singles and couples that live that live in the city. They’re they’re they’re making the trek to Dartmouth less often. And the implications here are, you know, greater interest in things like cleaning supplies, pets and pet care, personal care and, you know, less spending on things like restaurant meals and childcare appliances and recreational facilities. So, you know, the businesses on Main Street, Dartmouth might be considering how they can appeal to this particular population. That is is going to be, I would expect that the restaurants might be struggling a little bit more in this area if they’re not retooling and making themselves more appealing to a different kind of market. And then if we turn to Port Hope, where we also have a panelist, we look at downtown Port Hope. This is an interesting community also just given that it’s often that it has its local market, but is also a destination for tourism from, you know, parts of the Toronto area. What we’re seeing here is also a shift to more modest income suburban suburbanites, both older and families. So, you know, segment that we called Suburban Sports, Suburban Recliners and Stressed In Suburbia are making the trek into into Port Hope’s downtown. And we’re seeing smaller shares of people from more affluent segments like Boomer Bliss and Kickback Country is a more of a country segment that’s quite affluent, visiting Port Hope. And again, if we if we look at some of the implications for Port Hope’s expenditures from these visitors, these particular visitors are actually more likely to be spending on restaurant meals, pets and pet pet care come up and entertainment. And they’re not so not going to be as interested in things like recreational vehicles, casinos and jewelry, were some of the things that came up again. I mean, we’ve got hundreds of data points that we could have looked at. But what I wanted to really leave you with was a few thoughts. Current data, responsive data are important in helping to understand what’s going on and how communities are shifting. And and, you know, we hope that some of this data can inform some of the decisions, the important decisions and the weeks and months to come as communities recover and we hopefully bring back our main streets. And with that, I’m going to turn it over to the panel discussion.


Ariana Holt [00:23:31] Right. Thank you so much, Rupen. Hi, everyone. I am just logging in now, had some computer troubles, but that was a great presentation. There’s so much great information there, so much to unpack. So I think what we’ll do I don’t I don’t think we had a chance to introduce our panelists before the call. We have Kevin Narraway, who’s a marketing manager at the municipalities of Port Hope. Graziella Grbac, the executive director of the Village on Main BID. That’s in Dartmouth, which is just outside of downtown Halifax. And then David Pensato, who’s the executive director of the Exchange District in Winnipeg. So what I’m going to do is give each of the panelists an opportunity to respond to the presentation. I’ll give you each take three to five minutes to talk. Just tell us a little bit about the street, what you’ve observed over the past past few months, and try to help us make sense of this data. You know, the number of the decline in visits and how that pattern has changed over time, how and then how have, who has been coming to the street, to the streets? Who have you noticed that have been coming to the street? How is that changed? And then how have you been responding to these changes? So we’ll just give we’ll start at east to west. So we’ll start with you, Graziella, and we’ll go from there. You’re still on mute.


Graziella Grbac [00:24:56] Hi, everybody. Thank you for that. I guess what I’m trying to do is I’d rather kind of try to match the data with what I’m seeing instead of look, telling you just what I’m saying. I’m looking at the data and trying to interpret that. And I know there are a few gyms here and they’ve really adapted. We had a beautiful summer and they were doing a lot outside at the beach and in parking lots. So there was a lot of that. They are back up to, I’d say eighty five percent or so. There are also some necessary agencies like accounting firms, social enterprise, nonprofits with particular clientele that are up the same. And some of them are expanding. And some of our accounting firms are actually expanding. We have a DQ here. So I think there was a rise in comfort food over the pandemic as opposed to healthy food. Everybody wants ice cream. I’ve never before seen Main Street backed up to get into the DQ. So those are the kinds of things that I think are happening. And I think we’re in the center of Dartmouth. So on the one side of us is the downtown of Dartmouth, and on the other side is the suburbs of Dartmouth. So those suburban people, maybe before and after pandemic times, they may be going around us or into the downtown more to the maybe more variety. And now the closer to home factor kicks in where their basic services are. Obviously here also because we’re the center of Dartmouth. There’s about 90,000 residents who then ten minute drive all around us. And also that demographic is, we did some studies on this before and there are a lot of older and senior people living in homes and bungalow more around us than any other area and in our city. So those are some of the things that I see. I’m saying comfort food close to home. We have a lot of nonprofit and essential kind of services and sort of agencies and nonprofits that deal with like mental health and disability, those sorts of things. So those kinds of needs don’t go down or up. They kind of remain the same. Maybe up, mental health, maybe even up. So those are the kinds of services that we offer. We don’t have a lot of sit down restaurants. A lot of them are fast food. So they fared well. There are a couple of sit down restaurants and two of three of them just shut down almost completely over the pandemic and are just gradually reopening. And those the other ones, it was very easy to adapt to to take it because they’re were already fast food. So, again, comfort food. So that’s all I can say.


Rupen Seoni [00:27:26] Sounds like you’re a well positioned for, you know, as it happens for what’s happened here. Based on the mix of things that are there.


Graziella Grbac [00:27:34] I think it was all safe because of the bubble obviously, went to bubble.


Ariana Holt [00:27:38] Yeah. Do you think that, you know, having more people from the local neighborhoods is what contributed to that? You know, that increase and the sort of higher percentage even than last year?


Graziella Grbac [00:27:50] Yeah, interesting, there’s some expansions. For example, I was looking at new, another accounting firm, to switch things around and I can’t even get in because they got people in training and they’re not ready yet to to hand somebody over. So and there’s below our building is a, it’s like a Mayfair or Wayfair store with returns. So it’s new, but reused. So it’s discounted stuff. So we all we also know that around us, the demographic of income is lower than, there’s two corridors in our city. We’re right on one, Main is one corridor and our corridor has a lower income bracket. So the stores that we have, we have very few retail. And the bit that we have is discount, high quality, low cost discount. And they are booming. They can’t keep up. So people are treating themselves, but they don’t want to spend a lot of money. So they want ice cream and new furniture at low cost.


Rupen Seoni [00:28:49] Don’t we all?


Ariana Holt [00:28:53] We’ll go to you Kevin. Tell us just a little bit for anyone who doesn’t know about Port Hope. Just a quick description.


Kevin Narraway [00:29:00] Port Hope is a, a rural community. It’s about an hour from a Yonge and St. Claire in Toronto from door to door. If you make the drive on a nice day. We do rely a lot on on tourism. Because of the small population, we have about 12,000 people that live in there. What would be the urban area of Port Hope. The downtown Port Hope. And about four or five thousand people that live in the rural area. It’s a massive municipality, stretches from Lake Ontario up to Peterborough. So it’s it’s quite it’s quite a large piece of land and a lot of it’s agricultural. And it’s interesting the effect that COVID had on Port Hope. And you can almost look at it in three phases. The early phase from from April to June. I think it was this you know, was very little traffic in the downtown. We do we do measure our downtown track pedestrian traffic and the traffic dropped off considerably. And that was affecting the businesses and the businesses were affecting the traffic because the businesses were closed for a large part too. They were closed or had very inconsistent hours. So one of the things we did was we put in place a shop local campaign, like a lot of communities have, and really reached out to the to the local community and remind them not to forget the businesses, to remind them to get takeout food. And then that June to September period, it did pick up again. But what we really, we really lost in terms of tourism in Port Hope was the you know, the folks that would have come from the GTA. Port Hope because of its geography, has a river, runs through the center of it. Large salmon migration takes takes place in the late summer. We attract a lot of Chinese Canadian visitors to Port Hope, like tens of thousands or even 15,000 visitors. And, you know, we promote heavily to that market. We’ve run a lot of ads in Mandarin. There’s Mandarin signs all around the downtown. There’s Mandarin brochures, because we know that that audience comes in because we didn’t promote it and because the municipal council made a decision to close the river down to access, there’ll be no access to COVID. You can really see the number. Usually the our highest numbers would’ve been in September and October. They would have been better than even the summer numbers in terms of tourism. But you can see they dropped off. They picked up a little bit there in October, again, just because people still were coming to see the salmon migration, but they weren’t able to get actually to the river. They’re able to stand on the bridges and watch the migration. So what you can see that the data is very accurate. And I think the data that we’re seeing there in terms of the people that we’re attracting is very accurate. One of the things we noticed during the summer, just by you’re seeing who was in the downtown, was a lot of people that just seemed to come for the day. You know, you’ve likely likely riding a bike. Well, people just seem to want to get away from the from the GTA, from the, you know, the suburbs in the GTA. And they were just happy to be sitting in our parks because there’s lots of space, lots of wide open space, sitting under trees, reading books, things that we wouldn’t normally see. People usually when they come to the downtown are more engaged. They’re in the shops of the stores or in the restaurants, but they just seem to be happy just being outside and being away from other people. Especially, you know, in in Toronto, a lot of the parks, a lot of the outdoor spaces were overwhelmed with people when they first started opening up. And I think a lot of people were moving out towards Port Hope to get away from some of those larger crowds as well. So, yeah, I think I think that that is very accurate, that you’re that you’re showing Rupen, it’s really reflects what’s happening in Port Hope.


Rupen Seoni [00:32:26] Glad to hear that.


Ariana Holt [00:32:27] And we’ll come back to, come back to you and talk a little bit more about what that means. But let’s go let’s go to you, David. Tell us what you’ve been seeing and what the data makes, what the data says to you.


David Pensato [00:32:37] Sure. I mean, it was actually the data was, it makes a lot of sense based on the Exchange District as it is. So the Exchange District, our area, about two thirds of it also comprise a national historic site. So we’ve got the largest collection of intact turn of the previous century, warehouse buildings and terracotta buildings in the world, certainly North America. So there’s a hundred and twenty heritage buildings and 40 square blocks. So it’s a lot. We also, though, are home to the Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall, which which is the home of the of the symphony. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, grown out of a theater center is here. So you can see there’s these big cultural institutions that are located here. So when I see that drop in the kinds of demographics that the data was showing, I think a lot of it is due to that. Mean we have major festivals here in the summer. We have a lot of art galleries. Those kinds of things that are just completely shut down. And for sure, it’s sort of the commuter population. So to the to the south of us, you know, on our southern borders is the iconic Portage and Main and that’s where all the big office towers are. So well, most of the Exchange District itself was sort of a six story, seven story buildings. There’s also all of those office workers. So it is a it is a unique place in that kind of a way. We certainly saw a drop off from the office workers right away, that they’re the ones who sustain, you know, like 40 high end restaurants in the area. The boutique retail that we have, you know, all of that foot traffic dropped dramatically and was a real challenge. And I would say over the summer, the restaurants did a lot better. We have a lot of patios and Winnipeggers. I think we’re very keen to get out and explore and do those kinds of things. But certainly not to, as the data shows, not to the same degree. We have had office workers back come back in the smaller buildings and on staggered schedule, much like we are here in our office. So people aren’t coming back five days a week. They’re coming back twice a week. And so that’s created a lot of chaos for the restaurants because, of course, restaurant business thrives on predictability. You you want to know that it starts to get busier around Thursday so you add more staff. You add more, you know, you buy supplies for that, you prep more. And what we’re finding the restaurants now is they’ll just have a massive spike. We’ll get slammed on a Tuesday and then there’s nothing for the rest of the week. And the following week they’ll get three days of moderate activity. And it’s unpredictable. So it makes it very hard to manage. So that’s what we’re seeing. We also don’t have a very big residential population in the Exchange District proper. It wasn’t traditionally a a place where people lived. That started to change in the 80s with the Core Area Initiative. And more recently, there’s been a lot more conversions to residential. So that population is growing. And the immediate population around us is, you know, basically what that data is showing is that that closing and people coming from closer are making it more of that.


Ariana Holt [00:36:13] But let’s talk about that. I mean, this idea that people are traveling shorter distances and more people are visiting their local main street. Something that we’ve been hearing throughout the Bring Back Main Street project. What does that, what does that mean and what are the implications for you in your role in supporting your local main streets and communities and local businesses?


David Pensato [00:36:38] Well, one thing, one project that we did in partnership with with we kind of, we identified there’s about seven different business improvement zones that surround the core of Winnipeg, is sort of the central neighborhoods of Winnipeg. So the downtown is, the West End is, the number of the others. We worked together this summer, was a little late in the season, but I think it has a lot of potential for next year where we we kind of cobbled together the bike infrastructure around the area, the various areas, and created a loop that connects all seven. Because when you look at those seven neighborhoods, when you look at the popular population base within them, it actually gets pretty significant in size. And until you make that connection and make it obvious to people, they don’t realize that I can do that entire loop through seven neighborhoods in about forty five minutes on the bike at a very casual pace. So drawing attention to the fact that each of our neighborhoods has more people that are accessible and trying to connect those dots. I think that’s something that has a lot of potential going forward, because people know just like right across the country, people were discovering bikes again to run on bikes. First it was toilet paper then it was bikes, now it’s propane heaters. But, you know, so taking advantage of of that, I think, is something that we can do going forward. And for us in the Exchange District, it was really a matter of reminding people that we’re here reminding people because people love people do love visiting here from further out than what is sort of the closed circle. And every time we did that, every time we successfully reminded people about what they love about this area, we saw people coming back and walking around and being tourists and walking through the parks and things. So it’s that is that is an important factor.


Ariana Holt [00:38:31] It’s interesting. And the planning implications and marketing implications, communications implications. Kevin, what about you? I mean, it’s something that we’ve been hearing from a lot of Main Streets and BIAs is that those places that rely on tourists who didn’t have the tourists over the summer really gave an opportunity for the local community to to enjoy their their their main streets and enjoy their their communities a little bit more. Is that something that you saw?


Kevin Narraway [00:39:00] You know, the downtown is well used. It’s the only commercial area in Port Hope we don’t have big box stores and things like that. So it is it is well, trafficked by by the residents. But what would the business because it’s such a small area, small population. You know, those businesses, I’d I’d say, I mentioned this earlier, 25 to 40 percent of the business downtown is from tourism. So it really, really hurts, you know, when there’s when there’s not the tourism and now we’re heading into into the you know, the the colder part of the year, the darker part of the year. And, you know, if the businesses if they don’t have a good Christmas and again, that’s very reliant on on the local population, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more businesses closed down come the early part of the new year. Now, that said, we did have two or three businesses that disappear from Main Street during during the depths of the shutdown. But those spots were quickly taken up again by, you know, some some major [inaudible] major private retailers in the shops are booming again. It’s it’s it’s quite that the downtown looks quite populated. And, you know, one of the restaurants that’s quite successful downtown had a smaller footprint. And because of the restrictions with COVID and, you know, the amount of seating they can have, they have they’ve actually purchased the building next to them and they’re expanding into us. They actually have more socially distanced seating. So it’s it’s it’s it’s interesting. Interesting to see how this this plays out. I think this last quarter of the year will be, you know, November, December especially are going to be really interesting to see how businesses fare.


Ariana Holt [00:40:38] Do you have anything to add, Graziella, to the conversation about more locals? You’re on mute again.


Graziella Grbac [00:40:51] I’d say we were the reverse of what the others are experiencing. And it worked to our advantage in a different way. So what I mean by that is we’re not tourism dependent. So the people that we’re tourists that will go elsewhere maybe would come here. So that might explain a little bit of an extra bump. And outside of tourists we’re kind of I think we’re called in the report, we’re called a neighborhood BIA and that’s how I would define it. It is a neighborhood like your neighborhood store, your neighborhood shop, your neighborhood services. So I think that that helped us. We also got to know each other more. And we were more engaged. People became more engaged with our organization. So they came to know us better because we were sending messages of government initiatives and they became more connected. Whereas before it wasn’t a priority. And we were like an outside organization and they were just too busy in their daily lives. So this way, with the constant contact and information and up to date information, we had this coalition here in Nova Scotia that we found out about government incentives before they were even announced. So I was sharing that because as a BIA, my organizations, my businesses are paying me and they’re out of work and I’m not. So I was in a position where I really needed to give them something extra. And we were in that had the ability to do that. So as a result of that and the pandemic, people became more connected here. The city and we adapted a lot. So normally we wouldn’t been able to do things like, for example, the city had a program for creating more open public spaces. So in the downtowns where restaurants grew against sidewalks, they had more patios. Well, our restaurants are not against sidewalks because we’re a little bit, you know, not quite suburban outside of the urban core. So we were able to work with our property owners and set up little food court kind of parks in parking lots. And it was great. People just came and got their food from somewhere and it wasn’t right outside a restaurant. They just sat there. And everyday we saw people sitting there. We set up plans. We set up a lattice wall. So also about seven years ago, we changed the land use by-laws, which now allows a lot more residential like is very typical in downtown. So we’re becoming a more urban urban village, I guess. And so it took a while, but this year, a lot of construction started. So there was demolition and there was construction. So in fact, here in our community, it seemed like things came alive. Like all of the things we planning, we’re planning and thinking of. It’s struggle, it’s always a struggle to make it happen. And this summer, it seemed like all our dreams came true. Everything was happening. There were more people in public spaces because we never had public spaces. We made them. There was more demolition and construction questions and excitement about all these changes that we’ve been waiting seven years to have. So we’re very kind of opposite of of the rest of the community. So very interesting position.


Rupen Seoni [00:43:48] You know, I find that fascinating just to hear that, because I’m not you know, as I’ve been looking at some of these numbers and trying to figure out like, what the heck did Darmouth do? I mean, I know there’s the Atlantic bubble, but it’s it’s just so kind of extreme compared to the others in terms of the activity levels. And so that makes a lot of sense now why we’re seeing some of the some of the the numbers that we’re seeing. I just I just want to jump back to, if I can, Ariana, something that Kevin was was talking about around tourism and the activities with tourists. And there’ve been some comments in the chat that I thought or this might be a good point to kind of address them. One of the questions was, you know, has there been a wholesale shift towards people, you know, as tourists favoring commercial activities less than just wanting to do recreation? And, you know, to be honest with you, I don’t I don’t know. We I mean, we have data that could answer that question. But I would almost want to talk to my colleagues who work it more in the tourism area to see if they’ve done anything on that, because I think that’s actually quite an interesting point is, is trying to decipher what is of interest these days by looking at the destinations that people are going to within the destination, as opposed to just who comes to the main street? What are they doing on the main street? And can we kind of get more insight into that? Because I think that’s that would maybe be a next step to help kind of understand how main streets need to retool. Because I did see a comment as well on the chat thinking, you know, well, what do we do going forward? How, you know, if expenditure patterns are changing, how do we how do we address that? And I don’t think we have answers to that right now, but we probably should be thinking about that.


Ariana Holt [00:45:34] Anyone want to respond to Rupen?


David Pensato [00:45:38] I guess as a bit of a proxy, I suppose we can talk about that we we run historic walking towards in Exchange District in the summer. And they you know, they run from May till early September. Generally, we get busier, though, from apart from school trips late June to early September. In a typical year, we’re running those tours Monday to Saturday. They’re all by walk-in or by appointment. And we’re usually running pretty full days. You know, groups of six to twenty, two to three times a day, almost every day, certainly in July and August. This year, we’ve had maybe a handful in total. So, you know, as a bit of a proxy for what’s happened to tourism and even local tourism, I think that’s a that’s a major factor. And we certainly have seen people using the park a lot more, but not necessarily going into the shops. And I think the outdoor thing really matters. The restaurants that have patios did a lot better.


Ariana Holt [00:46:49] Well, let’s talk about data for a minute. I mean, clearly this data is very interesting. It’s interesting to see. But I’m also curious how you would find this this how you find this data useful and how this could help you in your planning. And maybe not just this data, but what what other data are you collecting and how are you using that to support your decision making and planning your work? I can jump in. Graziella, you’re nodding so I’ll go to you.


Graziella Grbac [00:47:19] Yeah. So I, this kind of confirms the way I’ve been kind of looking around thinking I don’t really see a difference. But I guess I should feel bad for people. But I don’t really see. You would never know we were in a pandemic until you go in shops and see the masks. So this, the data. Thank you. Because it explains that. And it just by luck happens to line up that the pandemic and the data and the timing lines up with this seven year wait for the you know, the all the routes we’ve been planning for the spreading to happen. And that just happened by chance this summer as well. So and you talk about what future data. So it’s interesting you ask that, because right now we’re just launching actually just this week launching a more of an asset mapping project. We’re calling it Dartmouth Connects because we’re in the center of Dartmouth. We’re not, there’s a downtown Halifax in a downtown Dartmouth and we’re neither. So people shop here from all over, from suburbs and the downtown. And they stop by, our customer base. But it’s it’s always been a transient place. So we want to get to know who those customers are collectively. So we’re just about to launch Dartmouth Connects, which is a very quick, short survey. And we’re looking at more like psycho graphics as opposed to demographics, your income and your age. So what do you like to do? What do you want to do? What did you always want to do? Would you like to mentor someone in doing something? So we think that might tell us something about the themes, maybe as an organization that maybe we could offer certain themed events, maybe some of our businesses, maybe a store that sells socks, maybe they should sell pantyhose, you know, that kind of thing. So it could be different lines of products or kinds of services and maybe more connections with the businesses and the customer bases of other businesses on the same street or next door. So we’re just about to launch that. So would be interesting to see where that goes.


Ariana Holt [00:49:12] Interesting. What about you, David? Is it that data help you make the case for or you know support for for our downtowns?


David Pensato [00:49:23] Yeah, definitely. I think helps us to understand where we can be directing our attention and our effort and where some of the weaknesses are that we can be providing support with so we can be a little bit more targeted, I would say in the next couple of months we will be so we have things planned already. But the way that we approach it and who we’re targeting and who we’re talking to this.


Ariana Holt [00:49:49] Is there other data that you’re collecting?


David Pensato [00:49:54] We’re just we’re just starting to we’re actually in the middle of a planning process for the area. So we’re kind of- but but that’s more long term related stuff, so.


Ariana Holt [00:50:09] What about you Kevin?


Kevin Narraway [00:50:10] We do collect a lot of data on what’s happening downtown. As I mentioned, we do have a pedestrian traffic counter that what I would say to people is that sort of the blood pressure of what’s happening downtown, we keep an eye on it. So it gives us an idea, you know, if we run an ad campaign. You know, we can certainly see that the clicks and the social media trends and things like that. But what we can’t see is that actually translate into people on the street. And so that’s that’s sort of the the last gateway to say, you know, that did that that ad campaign did put people on the street in Port Hope. So that’s an important measurement for us. Well, what this data points out to me is that certainly, you know, COVID has has it makes it makes sense, you know, in the ways it has impacted the who’s coming to Port Hope and what the what they’re interested in. Again, though, some of it is because businesses are closed as well. Right. That’s you. It’s it’s actually it’s the businesses are actually affecting who’s coming as well. I think to a to a large extent. What’s going to be curious would be really helpful, I think is to be able to look at this again a year from now to see what you going to see if this these some of these trends have continued or if they’ve gone back to, you know, who was who was our typical tourist prior to that, prior to COVID happening. I think that would be helpful because we’re I think we’re seeing a snapshot. So snaps or whatnot before COVID. We’re seeing what’s happening during COVID. Now what that what’s it look like when whenever we get out the other side? What’s what’s gonna look like and did that, did that, did those people, did it, you know, did it make permanent changes to who’s coming over to our community? That that’s got to be really interesting because that that does start to then then shape, you know, planning, thinking events. All those things will have to now start to be reconsidered because we’ve lost our traditional audience. And I mentioned this yesterday when we’re having a quick chat, Rupen, that one of our one of our big mainstays in Port Hope is the is the Capitol Theater. It would attract 50 to seventy thousand visitors a year. And that’s completely gone. And you know that that demographic is training tends to be 60 plus. And, you know, the relatively affluent and those those people were not in the community at all this year.


Rupen Seoni [00:52:12] You know, I think jumping off of what you you know what you’re saying Kevin yet is there was a there was a comment in the chat about from someone from the town of Innisfail around remaking main streets and how you kind of, you know, look at the long term benefits and encountering against risk avoidance and making an expenditure that maybe isn’t going to pan out. Frankly, it often boggles my mind, to be honest with you, how how how much reluctance there is. And maybe it’s just not an understanding of what the data and analytics can tell you to help you make better decisions that so many organizations, whether they be private sector developers or whether they be parts of government, are willing to make, you know, millions, hundreds of millions of dollars, tens of billions of dollars in investments in things that are in infrastructure that’s quite expensive. When knowing the population that you’re actually trying to target to and having some of those analytics just making a slightly better decision justifies making those investments and knowing the market, knowing the population, knowing where things are going so that you can tailor what you’re doing and set yourselves up for success. I think it’s some, I think it’s really, I think it’s really important. And I mean, you know, OK, I get I, I get that I live in that world, but so, you know, I don’t take much convincing, but it’s surprising. I think there has to be a greater understanding of what analytics and data can provide to helping make better decisions. And I think that’s probably what’s missing.


David Pensato [00:53:57] Well, I would say that I just want to add to that Rupen is that sometimes, what the data, what you can draw from the data, the decisions you make might be counterintuitive. So. So, you know, the Exchange District saw a massive revitalization in the late 90s and early 2000s by by elected officials making decisions that would seem counterintuitive. So Waterfront Drive is. It is a road that was constructed along the Red River former rail line. But the whole area was, you know, basically looked like a bombed out shell. The city built the most expensive stretch of road it ever did. It was like eleven, over eleven million dollars for just about two kilometers of road. So that investment seems ridiculous. Right. But but but to be able to look at that and go, well, this is undervalued and if we put this kind of infrastructure in it will improve the value and make the area better. So sometimes you go a while, there’s nothing there. Why would you put money into it?


Rupen Seoni [00:55:04] Right. Right.


David Pensato [00:55:05] But there’s no people there. Why would we put money into it? There’s there’s lots.


Rupen Seoni [00:55:08] And you’re creating a place as what you do. Yeah.


Ariana Holt [00:55:12] Well, as usual, these conversations go really quickly and I just have a few minutes left, so maybe I’ll just give everyone a chance for any any closing remarks and what you’re hoping to see over the next, over the next couple of months in your main street. We’ll go the opposite way this time. So, David.


David Pensato [00:55:31] Winter is coming and Winnipeg is facing the worst of the pandemic that we’ve had yet. Right. So the first round we didn’t. Some of the people that I know in health care said have told me we didn’t actually flatten the curve. We just stopped it from beginning, really. So we’re really seeing it for the first time now. And people are very anxious. So we are looking well, we’re looking to see what we can do, you know, helping the businesses pivot, helping to attract people into the area, just keeping things going.


Ariana Holt [00:56:06] Kevin.


Kevin Narraway [00:56:08] Now, what I’m hoping for is that local residents, you know, consider Christmas shopping in downtown Port Hope. And I do think there’s an opportunity for Port Hope to to attract visitors from the GTA who maybe, you know, who in particularly shop in a mall may think, hey, you know what, I got to go shop on a small town this this Christmas, because it is actually a great article on CBC last last November, December, about the most the most beautiful places to Christmas shop and Port Hope was ranked number two in Ontario. So you know what we’d like people to come and shop in Port Hope and do their Christmas shopping there. And, you know, and that may be that may help these some of these little businesses get through the winter because it’s gonna be difficult. I think, you know, especially the restaurants, although, you know, that said, I was in a restaurant last Friday and was surprised by how many people were actually in the restaurant. The tables were all socially distanced, but the restaurant was full for the most part which I didn’t anticipate. So I think people are, there’s very, very few cases of COVID, thankfully, in our neck of the woods here. And hopefully that trend continues. And, you know, and people can stay healthy and they can get it. They can go shop and enjoy, enjoy our little downtown.


Ariana Holt [00:57:14] Thanks. Graziella.


Graziella Grbac [00:57:18] So I just want to say I don’t want to present like a roses and rainbow picture. I wanted to acknowledge that because of a lot of government support and those initiatives that they had going through COVID, we are where we are. People really did struggle in the early times and also that we’re we are still taking it seriously. I mean, obviously, the bubble makes it easier for us, but really, people are taking seriously. You don’t see people wearing masks outside. But when you step inside all public spaces, people, we do still all wear masks. So just to let you know, we are really still bracing ourselves. We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re we’re prepared and we’re aware and and we’re grateful for that support. I know it would have been a lot worse if we didn’t get that support.


Ariana Holt [00:58:02] Thanks for that. The last word to you, Rupen.


Rupen Seoni [00:58:06] Boy, well, I guess, you know, it’s it’s an it’s an ongo- it’s an evolution of our understanding about what’s going on out there. So I just look forward to doing more around, you know, gaining more of that insight as to how things turn around and come out of this crisis. But I guess I’ll just leave, leave, leave the thought with you know, in the end, a lot of these decisions are very locally and temporarily dependent on what’s going on in that place. So we have to be local and specific. You know, broad brush stroke things help understand what’s going on in the country or the province. But in the end, these are local decisions that need local local action and local information to help support that mission.


Ariana Holt [00:58:49] Well, thanks very much for pulling all that data together. And thanks to our panelists and everyone who participated on the chat. That’s all for today. And keep an eye out for the recording, which will be up next week. Thanks very much. Have a good day everyone. Goodbye.


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 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

12:02:37             From  Canadian Urban Institute : Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:03:11             From  Canadian Urban Institute : day’s and all our sessions at

12:03:28             From  Canadian Urban Institute : Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

12:03:44             From  Toby Greenbaum : Hi everyone.  Toby from Ottawa

12:03:46             From  Canadian Urban Institute : You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at

12:04:19             From  Canadian Urban Institute : CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session Environics Analytics.

12:04:51             From  Abby S : from Tkaranto

12:05:49             From  Leandro Santos : Hello from Mississauga

12:20:53             From  ruth mora  to  All panelists : what is first class families?

12:25:58             From  Canadian Urban Institute : Rupen Seoni


Kevin Narraway

Graziella Grbac

David Pensato


Twitter: @pensato


12:38:31             From  Laura Tate  to  All panelists : Ariana, Rupen and panelists- thank you so much for this.  I have a conflict so must leave early, but am excited about this research and reflection, and will continue to follow it.

12:40:50             From  sue uteck : It’s a beautiful area to visit ! (former Oshawa resident now a Hali girl!)

12:40:57             From  Abby S : Is the nature of tourism shifting as it becomes local away from consumerism more to activity that does not involve shopping, or is it a given that it involves shopping?

12:43:04             From  Abby S : How do we revive mainstreets if indeed retail itself is shifting?  If it is…not sure what the data says.  Anecdotally it seems to be.

12:43:28             From  Irena Nikolova  to  All panelists : I just saw four For Lease signs on restaurants and bars on King Street West in Toronto. I wonder what will happen once the restrictions end. We certainly have too many bars, pastry shops and restaurants in downtown Toronto. Are you seeing similar trends in other cities?

12:44:04             From  Abby S : Rupen touched on this with the Prize analysis and shifting habits.

12:44:12             From  Abby S : *Prizm

12:44:17             From  Tim Bayne  to  All panelists : From data I’ve seen shopping is still very much a priority for tourists

12:44:57             From  Canadian Urban Institute  to  Irena Nikolova and all panelists : Hi, Irena! Can you change your chat settings and re-post? Your comment only went to panelists. Thanks!

12:45:07             From  Abby S : Love the outdoor foodcourt concept…

12:45:25             From  Tim Bayne  to  All panelists : Respondents suggested shopping is one of the activities they are comfortable doing while visiting a destination.

12:45:29             From  Canadian Urban Institute : We love your comments and questions in the chat! Share them with everyone by changing your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees”. Thanks!

12:47:08             From  Abby S : @Rupen…thank you.  Right…are people just trying to get out…

12:47:13             From  Irena Nikolova : I saw four For Lease signs on restaurants and bars on King St.W in Toronto. I wonder what will happen once the restrictions end. We have too many restaurants and pastry shops downtown. Are you observing similar trends in other cities?

12:48:16             From  Albert Wong : The outdoor food court concept is brilliant

12:48:49             From  Abby S : @Albert ^^ agree!

12:48:50             From  Irena Nikolova : We have seen a lot more people in the parks in Toronto, the GTA and even outside Toronto and these are people who would be shopping..

12:50:01             From  sue uteck : In Halifax, we lost 200 cruise ship visits which is a major blow.  We are beginning to plan for a more local focus as this sector will not recover for a few years.

12:50:39             From  Canadian Urban Institute : You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at

12:51:00             From  Gaelen Pierce : Gaelen Pierce from Town of Innisfil – To any of the panelists – In the context of a community who is actively constructing its main street (or for other communities who are actively recovering from the exodus and decline of their main streets) – what would your comments be on Councils who are hesitating or faltering in the face of COVID in their commitment to rebuild and keep improving these places? Is there a risk of losing sight of the forest (long-term prosperity) for the trees (short-term risk avoidance)?

12:52:32             From  Canadian Urban Institute : Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

12:54:05             From  Canadian Urban Institute : What did you think of today’s conversation? Help us improve our programming with a short post-webinar survey –

12:55:07             From  Ralph Cipolla : hi safe downtown is becoming more of a problem during covid do you have any recommendation other than calling the police to help with this problem    ralph cipolla from Orillia ontario

12:55:21             From  Abby S : If communities and main streets count on older demographics vs younger…it may take time before those most at risk of Covid venture out…(until a vaccine)…just out of an abundance of caution.  How to make those communities feel safe is key.

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12:56:59             From  Gaelen Pierce : 100%

12:58:56             From  Albert Wong : Please also consider transportation options (beyond driving) when attracting people into the downtown core.

13:00:07             From  Lukas Golka  to  All panelists : Thanks, it is very supportive.

13:00:38             From  Canadian Urban Institute : CUI extends a big thank you to our partner for today’s session Environics Analytics.