Why Downtowns and Central Business Districts Matter

Joining CUI’s Mary W. Rowe on “Why Downtowns and Central Business Districts Matter” are Craig Alexander, Chief Economist & Executive Advisor, Deloitte Canada; Richard Barkham, Global Chief Economist, CBRE; and Richard Florida, Professor, Urbanist, and Writer.

5 Key

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

1. Cities will survive – but the office as we know it will not come back.

Cities have survived many shocks throughout history. The pandemic marks a great reset, but cities will survive. Two types of factors are shaping how and where we live: “pull” factors are drawing some people out of downtowns, while “push” factors are concurrently attracting others to central areas. Reimagined downtowns will have more integrated live-work neighbourhoods with more social and recreational functions. Physical office space will still be critical as an arena for social interaction and for onboarding new talent. There will be increased demand for coworking spaces in suburban areas as some employers pursue a “hub and satellites” model.

2. The time employees spend in the office will decline and this will affect downtowns – but the demand for space is affected by several factors.

Downtowns have been challenged by the effects of Covid-19, as centrifugal forces draw people and economic activity outwards. Stagnant rental rates and elevated vacancy will likely endure for some time, and this will affect downtowns. The amount of time that employees spend in physical office locations each week will drop compared to pre-pandemic — but this will not translate into a one-to-one decrease in the demand for office space. There may be a de-densification effect where more space is allocated per employee compared to the pre-pandemic office configuration. Employers may also plan for occasions such as teambuilding events when many employees might be in the office at the same time.

3. The crisis is a catalyst to chart a course for future prosperity.

The economic contraction brought on by Covid-19 is much more severe than previous downturns. The impacts are uneven: larger cities have been hit harder than smaller cities, lower-paid workers have been more affected by job losses, and the impact has not been uniform across industries. Pre-pandemic, Canada’s economic outlook was tempered by weak investment. As health risks diminish, there is potential for a strong recovery, which can put the country on a new trajectory for future prosperity. Cities will be a crucial part of the recovery.

 4. Signs point to the potential for a strong recovery.

Government transfers supported households and helped to maintain consumer confidence during 2020. The level of collective savings of Canadian households increased significantly during the pandemic, and pent-up demand could help fuel a strong economic recovery. There is an opportunity to build our downtowns back better. A “Roaring 2020s” decade may lie ahead – however it will be crucial to mitigate and redress inequalities as this unfolds.

5. Policy is required for downtowns to come back in a way that is more inclusive.

Without intentional policy choices, the risk is that future downtowns could end up being more exclusive than the pre-pandemic condition. It is unproductive to frame the argument in terms of economic growth versus equity: growth and equity are both necessary and can be compatible. Institutional investors could deploy capital towards affordable housing if governments can create the policy to support it.

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 events@canurb.org with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary Rowe [00:00:27] Hi everybody. It’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute. Really pleased to be welcoming you for such an important day of conversation about what’s happening with downtowns, what’s happening to Central Business Districts, how’s that going to affect our daily lives, how we work, where we go, how we get there, all the things that are important to urban life and why downtowns are so crucial to that conversation. So I’m very appreciative that we have so many people that have signed up for these sessions, and particularly that we’ve got colleagues like Richard and Craig and Richard Barkham as well, who will join when he’s available, to get us started on this why this conversation matters so much, I guess is what what we’re trying to get at. And so as people may realize, first of all, this is Zoom, obviously. Welcome to Zoom and we can see you on the chat. So by all means, correspond with people in the chat, send questions up there. It’s always great for you to check in and tell us where you’re watching from. I know that we have presenters today from seven time zones. I counted this morning. This is not just a conversation taking place in Canadian cities, it’s happening globally. And you’re going to hear from people throughout the day that are going to give you ideas and provocations and questions about how everyone is coming to terms with this, trying to anticipate what the future may hold, but also just looking clearly at what the reality is. And is this a moment? Is this an opportunity for us to reimagine and not just go back to what it was but to potentially imagine a different kind of future for downtowns and their role in cities? CUI is a national organization. We’re in the connective tissue business, as everyone knows. And but our headquarters is in Toronto, which is the traditional territory of many First Nations, specifically the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, the Chippewa, the Haudenasaunee and the Wendat peoples. Now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis. And we’re covered by two treaties, Treaty Thirteen and the Williams Treaties. We have continued to struggle at CUI with all of our colleagues in the urban city building about the extent to which urbanism has been excluding. It has it has systematically and structurally reinforced inequality and a lack of equity in how our neighborhoods are planned and how people what opportunities people have in their communities. And so we’re very cognizant of this, that we have to come to terms with that legacy. But we also have to go forward in different kinds of ways and being much more inclusive and engaging in making urbanism accessible to everyone. So I say that recognizing that we have a panel this morning which is affectionately called a mannel, we have three men and they’re all Caucasian. And so we start with the greatest respect of our colleagues to appreciate that, but to suggest that through the day we have different kinds of voices and different perspectives and we have a lots of diversity participating in these sessions, which are recorded, as everyone knows. And so we hope that that collective experience will be as reflective as a can be of the diversity of urban life. And these three are three guys who have toiled in this in this vineyard for a long time and have, not that their old, just saying, same age as me pretty much. And we have been in this discourse for some time. And so we’re really it’s important to take stock, I think, and to get a sense of what are we really dealing with, what are the authentic struggles, what are the opportunities and what might that look like. So I’m delighted to have Craig Alexander back to CityTalk. He’s the Chief Economist and Executive Advisor at Deloitte. He’s had a very full plate in the last year, Craig. So I feel for you. It’s a time when lots of questions are being fielded by people like you, and you’ve been absolutely stoic and generous in trying to share your insights and so we’re really delighted to have you join us. And then after you, Richard Florida, a person well known to Canadian audiences and also to American audiences, who holds a number of different positions as a distinguished professor in a bunch of different places and has been an advocate for urban life before many other people were. And and now here he is to offer for us what he thinks the the future of a CBD and a downtown is. And then after him will be Richard Barkham who’s the Global Chief Economist for CBRE based in Boston, who’s got all the data and has has a lot of questions that he’s going to ask. And I know all three of these folks are going to ask us serious questions about what the implications are. So if you haven’t signed up for the subsequent sessions just because of the mechanics of Zoom, just to be clear, this is a Zoom session and then there’s another Zoom session and then there’s another Zoom session. So if you want to stick with us for the day, and why not, be with us for the day, you can register for those other two sessions if you haven’t already. And Gina and Jamie will put it into the chat. You can see it. So let’s start. Get us off with a bang here Craig. So happy to have you with us. We appreciate the wisdom you’re going to offer and over to you.

Craig Alexander [00:05:20] Thanks very much. So, Mary, can you just confirm you can see the slides? Great. So my my objective in the next 15 minutes is to give you a whirlwind economic overview, talk about the economic environment that we’re operating in, the prospects going forward, but also talk about the challenges and opportunities specifically from a municipal point of view. The starting point has to be that we are we are in the midst of the biggest recession in modern history. The Canadian economy, based on the stats can data that was just released, the Canadian economy contracted by 5.4 percent in 2020. And if you if you compare the magnitude of this downturn to the financial crisis of 08/09 and what we dubbed at the time, the Great Recession that followed, this this recession is many fold worse. Now, when we think about the Canadian economy, it’s typically we talk about it in terms of the Canadian economy or the provincial economies. But as we all know, over time the Canadian economy has become increasingly more densified and and more urban centric. And so an alternative way of actually discussing the performance of the Canadian economy is actually to talk about it from a city from a city landscape. Because, for example, if you take if you take the the the Golden Horseshoe in southern Ontario, you’re talking about that group of cities represents 25 percent of the total Canadian economy. And when we think about Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, I mean, these these are what actually the larger cities in Canada are what’s actually driving the experience. The other thing is that cities, larger cities, have been hit harder by this downturn than smaller cities. And it’s related to the health risks and the government lockdowns. And then we should also mention that not only are we dealing with a pandemic, but we also had a very big commodity shock last year. So in terms of the outlook, the Canadian economy at the tail end of last year was still, it slowed, but it slowed to a still a strong pace of expansion. I think the second wave and the renewed lockdown’s that were imposed likely mean that the first quarter growth is going to come in very soft. But as we as as governments are relaxing those restrictions, you’re going to see growth reemerge. And then this is exactly the experience we had earlier earlier last year. And regionally, what we’re going to see is all of the provinces swing from economic contraction to growth. However, what for many for many of the economies, it’s we’re not going to get back to post-COVID levels in 2020 in 2021. And in fact, for some like like Alberta, we’re probably not getting back to post-COVID levels until sometime well into or towards the end of 2022. And that’s based, and that’s assuming that we deal with the health risks. Now we know that in the near term the economic numbers are going to be weak because of the second wave and there is risks and concerns about a third wave. But we should recognize there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We are going through the process of vaccination. And when that is completed, the health risks will have diminished and the economy will will recover. I think from from a point of view of municipalities, a lot of the performance is tied to the industrial composition of the urban the urban economies, like how much exposure there is to certain industries. And the experience from an industry point of view has been very uneven during this downturn and very atypical compared to other business cycles. So if we think about the the the industries that have been the hardest hit. Right. So the what this shows you at the bottom of the bar is how much the industry contracted from peak to trough and then where it was as of November in terms of recovery and that would be the top of the bar. And what you can see is air transportation, accommodation, food services, arts, entertainment, recreation, tourism. These were all sectors that were really pummeled by the first lock down and they were very weak to recover. And of course these are the sectors that are also being hit again during during the second wave. You can see retail actually was was really, really suffered, but then it came back strongly and actually got back to pre-COVID levels. But one of the disruptions here has been that the shift in the sales has been it has shifted towards large businesses. And so when we look at the job market, what we can see is the bulk of the job losses have been lost in certain industries, but but also within industries, within small businesses. We’ve also had a lot of inequality in terms of who lost their job because because a lot of the employment in the most affected sectors have a lot of low paid workers. What we have seen is the bulk of the job losses have been in low paid workers. And and and when you ask the question, OK, so who from a population point of view, who are in that who are those low paid workers? The answer is you have a very high representation of of of disadvantaged populations: women, visible minorities, immigrants, youth. There’s segments of the segments of our population and those that face the greatest challenges are the ones that have impacted greatest by this current by the downturn. And this is shining a light on the issue around inequality. And when we think about the recovery, this is why having an inclusive recovery is so critical. Now, I am confident that as the health risks diminish, we are going to have stronger we are going to have a strong recovery. And part of the reason for that is really the consumer. The consumer is 55 percent of the total economy. And what we have seen due to the due to the due to the the during the recession, what we’ve seen is that Canadians have saved a vast amount of money. So what what happened is it’s quite remarkable. We had a we had a very sharp increase in unemployment. Unemployment went from the unemployment rate went from just under 6 percent, up to 13 percent before coming down. And yet personal income last year actually increased. And you sort of scratch your head and you say, how is that possible? And the answer is the government transfers to households exceeded the total lost compensation. And because because of that, that actually helped that that helped support households through the through during during this income shock and during this crisis, it helped helped maintain consumer confidence. And at the same time, we’ve had a lot of government transfers. Canadians haven’t been able to go out and spend their money on things they like to spend money on. Right. So they haven’t been able to go to movies or eat out at restaurants or take their family on trips. And so to give you an idea of the amount of ammunition that is present, that can drive the recovery on the household side, typically Canadian households save about 25 to 35 billion dollars a year. And in the four years pre-COVID, they were only saving about 10 billion a year. In 2020, the cumulated savings that were just reported yesterday accumulated savings in 2020 was 212 billion dollars. If even a small fraction of that money comes back into the economy, it will it will drive a lot of economic growth. My concern is that the recovery could be unbalanced. It could be driven by by it could be driven by consumer spending and residential activity that we’re seeing which Canadian residential real estate is on fire. And and that’s what we had after the financial crisis of 08/09. What’s lagging is business investment and and exports. And really, if we want to have a healthy, balanced recovery, we’re going to need to see more investment and and more export oriented growth. And this is going to be true for for for urban urban economies in terms of performance of the business sector. Now, the government transfers have come up with a massive price tag. The debt to GDP ratio for the federal government has gone from has gone from 32 percent to 51 percent. I would flag, though, in the 90s when we had our fiscal crisis, it was 70, it was 72 percent and the cost of borrowing from the federal government was around nine percent on a 10 year bond, whereas today you’re paying less than two percent. So even with the fiscal expansion we’ve had, you know, it isn’t putting us in a position of a fiscal crisis when when you add in the provinces, the picture deteriorates and the comparison to other jurisdictions is not as favorable. Canada still looks better than many, but the massive amount of debt that’s been taken on is going to be a fundamental challenge as we move forward. So, so and there’s a good question, you know, given the amount of of of financial relationships between urban centers and provincial governments and and urban centers and the federal government or the provinces and the feds, you know, the fiscal rebalancing that’s going to have to come in in the post pandemic world is going to take years, if not a decade or more. And this is where I think it’s really important when you think about the prospects for the municipal economies, you look at basically the way I think about the outlook as I think about structural trends that are transforming the economy. I think about trends that have been accelerated by the crisis. And I think about trends that we didn’t have before that are with us now. So structural trends, addressing climate change and the impact of climate change has not been altered by the pandemic. In fact, in some cases, governments are sort of using it to accelerate their their progress on this. Aging populations, the dependance on immigration for population growth has not been altered. And then we have economic challenges of weak investment, poor productivity, and we’re likely to have a sustained low interest rate environment. When we look at trends that were with us pre-COVID but have been accelerated by COVID, the top one is, as I already mentioned, we were worried about household debt pre-crisis. But now we have to worry about the debt the businesses have been taking on to keep afloat and and government debt. I think that we actually have a large number of zombie businesses in Canada and that when government support programs are reduced, I think you are going to see insolvencies and bankruptcies for small, small, small and medium sized businesses in Canada increased significantly. So I think municipalities should be mindful that that the small, small and medium sized businesses have been under pressure. And although we had we didn’t see insolvencies and bankruptcies balloon last year as they as they would normally in a recession, it’s a function of the government support programs. Another big category is that we’ve had this massive shift to all things digital, digital commerce, digital digital services and and the shift to remote work. Right. Which has been facilitated by digital. And and we also had an element of increased automation and adoption of big data and A.I. And if we think about all those three things together, what are they? The answer is it’s the IT revolution. So you could make a strong thesis that COVID, the pandemic, has actually accelerated digital disruption and and that that actually has a lot of a lot of implications. Right. So, you know, in terms of things like where are people going to live and work makes a big difference to municipalities. You know, the increase in automation and the shift to digital is changing the demand for what skills workers have. And then you have emerging trends, which we didn’t have pre-COVID that we now have. And that’s things like disrupted supply chains. There’s an element of of some repatriation of global activity could could take place. Governments are thinking about what essential products should be manufactured domestically. And we’ve seen a massive increase in the role of government. And one of the there has been a change in consumer behavior. I’m not sure that one is going to be persistent. I think that when when the health risks have diminished, I think Canadian spending patterns will return to closer to normal. But most of these other effects, I actually think are going to be with us for some time. And what it does is when I do my industry level forecasting and I take this landscape, I take this framework and I apply it against Canadian industries, you know, what I get is a picture that says if we just look at the bottom of this, if you just look at the x axis for this chart from going from left to right, is the growth potential by industry. And what you can see is the industries that have the greatest post pandemic growth potential are actually not the ones that have been the traditional leaders of economic growth. So I think we’re going to get industrial, you know, a big shake up in in the industry leader board in terms of economic growth. And this has a big impact on municipalities because of the different composition of industry industries within each major urban center. The other the other thing I wanted to stress was the fact that pre pandemic, I don’t think we were on the path to prosperity because of aging population, poor productivity, weak investment, the sustainable rate of growth in Canada had dropped from. When I started my career we used to think healthy growth was around 2.8 percent. Pre pandemic we thought it was around 1.7. And so we’ve almost lost half of our potential growth rate. And that’s that’s what actually when you add on inflation or prices, that’s actually what happens in terms of income creation to provide tax revenues to to all levels of government and and gives us the capacity to meet key, key, key commitments. And the reality is that I kept arguing that we needed to change the path we were on, but it didn’t resonate when we had a 30 year low unemployment rate. Now that we’ve had, now that we’re in a pandemic, it is now resonating that we not only need to come back from this crisis and get back to recover the jobs we lost, we actually need to come back and put ourselves on a much stronger path to prosperity and cities have to be part of that. So when you think about this, you know, it has been a tragic, a tragic economic environment. It has been a perfect storm for cities. It has led to it has led to a combination of of lost revenues for cities, but at the same time an increase in demand for for services. The crisis has also revealed inadequacies that we had pre-COVID. Things like we weren’t dealing enough with inequality. We weren’t dealing we didn’t have income security framework that was designed for the modern labor force. Childcare is a critical piece of social infrastructure, but was underappreciated pre pandemic. We clearly need to do a better job in how seniors age in Canada and the experiences they have. The residential housing boom has created an affordable housing challenge and we do have we are seeing weaknesses in our infrastructure, including digital infrastructure. So we really need to think about how do we come back from this stronger. And I would I would I would argue that from a from a municipal from an urban, urban, urban point of view. I mean, there’s three there’s three main, main, main things we need to do. First, we need to create inclusive, sustainable growth in all three elements of that. All three words, inclusive, sustainable and growth are all critical to achieving that. It means that we’re going to need we’re going to need regional strategies for recovery and development, because, as I said, the industry experience has been different. So the playbook, the recovery playbook may be different by large urban center. As I said, skills will have been the demand for skills has been altered. Plus there’s large unemployment and we need to tackle affordable housing. And going into the inclusive side of things, we need to invest in the social determinants of health. If we if we improve social outcomes, we will actually take burdens off off the health system. Then there’s the infrastructure as as a catalyst for for growth. And I think that from a city point, cities need to think about more digital, more green, expanding broadband, making the the transit transit systems seamless and end. And if there is this perpetual shift to a remote work, we’re going to need to make the transit systems more attractive to to basically pick up some of the slack. The other thing that to stress here is I’m not convinced, like even with the shift to more remote work, understand that the pop the Canadian population is going to grow. So ultimately, we are still going to need all that housing in urban core. And it could be that more immigrants come in and live in urban centres. But the ultimately, I’m not worried that I think it’s going to be a short term issue in terms of the impact both on commercial real estate and residential real estate. You know, this idea like we’ve seen people moving out of cities during the pandemic and into the suburbs, and that’s driving a lot of the house growth, house price growth. I don’t think that’s going to persist. And then as the population grows and the economy gets bigger, in the near term, we might have less demand for commercial real estate like office space downtown. But as population rises and businesses grow, you’re eventually going to need more, more, more real estate downtown. So it’s a short term disruption. And then we are going to need a more coordinated and more coordinated, more responsive government. And there’s there’s a lot of dimensions here, like the fiscal challenges are going to be acute. Right. So trying to find regional procurement models that will save money are important. Encouraging local digital solutions. Right. The shift to digital is actually how we get to a stronger productivity, better, better outcome. Improving service delivery, regulatory reforms to help to help be a catalyst to business formation. As I said, we had we have a lot of zombie businesses and we’re going to lose a lot of businesses. So we’re going to need to have policies in place that will accelerate business formation and startup. So, you know, this is a very big challenge for for cities to undertake. But I would I would stress that there’s a huge opportunity here. Pre-COVID we were actually not on a path to prosperity and we were basically sleepwalking into a world of stagnant, stagnant growth and living standards. The crisis actually creates the the crisis creates the catalyst for change. And if we embrace that, we can actually put Canada on a significantly stronger growth path. So I’m going to stop stop there. Sorry I went so fast, but there’s a lot to cover.


Mary Rowe [00:24:24] Fast is good. And, you know, it’s just a minor little topic, the future of Canada’s economy. So you breeze through it very well. Craig, thank you. Just to reinforce everybody, presentations will be available at canurb.org. The recordings for the sessions will be available at canurb.org. When you are when you guys are in the chat, can you just adjust your settings and share them with everybody? So Marcy Burchfield, you just shared a fabulous thing, but only with panelists. So can you re, if you have already posted post again to panelists and attendees. We have several hundred on these sessions and you all know a lot. And so you can have a whole conversation over there, a parallel universe, in the chat and answer each other’s questions and put resources up there. So panelists and attendees.

Mary W Rowe: Craig, thank you so much. Lots of questions will come to you when we’re done. Richard, over to you. Richard Florida.

Richard Florida [00:25:13] Well, thank you, Mary, so much. And I was able to prepare a little slide deck for everyone. Craig, that was fantastic. And I got to brainstorm this morning. I changed my title. I was talking about a post pandemic downtown. But but I think erring on the side of optimism, let’s talk about building our downtowns back better, something Craig at the very, very end of his presentation alluded to. So, look. I think Craig said this very nicely and I wrote a book, I called it The Great Reset. Maybe we can think of this as a great urban reset or a great urban reshuffling, but it’s it’s not a fundamental disruption. Our cities will survive. Our downtowns have survived. Cities have survived much worse. I have conducted over the course of the past year now a pretty systematic study of pandemics, infectious disease and plagues. And this has been terribly tragic for Canada, for my home country of the United States, especially in the world. But it’s not nearly as serious as the plagues in the Middle Ages that struck Europe, killing 30, 40 or 50 percent of the population of some cities. The cholera epidemics, the Spanish flu, not nearly the kind of thing that happened to Berlin in my parents’ lifetimes, occupied by the Nazis, mass bombardment, occupied by the allies, partitioned and it survived. It’s still one of the great cities. Our cities are going to survive. Our downtowns are going to survive. They’re going to be remade. Accelerating trends already underway. And if we take some purpose and if we have some intentionality, we have an opportunity to build our communities, our downtowns, our workplaces back better. If we don’t, there is no doubt in my mind, given what I just saw from Craig, that we will rebuild them, but they will become, if they were inequitable, across the lines of class, gender, race, ethnicity, country of birth before the pandemic, they will become evermore inequitable, less inclusive, less resilient after the pandemic. So this is where public policy and governance matters. If we want to build them back better. They will come back. But if we want to make them better, more resilient, safer, more inclusive, all of those things, we have to do it together. I like to look at this very simply because, Mary knows this about me, I am a very simple minded person and my simple mindedness is compounded by the fact that both Mary and I were very influenced by Jane Jacobs, who liked to write and speak in clear language. That’s what I’ve tried to do, take my own simple mindedness and and pair that with very simple language. So I think the factors that are reshaping our places, our cities, our downtowns, our suburbs and our rural communities across Canada, North America in the world can be separated out into two simple buckets. There are pull factors that are pulling people out of urban centers, downtowns and towards suburbs in rural areas. They want to backyard, they want a space to remote work, they want to space for remote education for the kids, they want to be able to get outside, they want to be near parks. And there are push factors. There are a set of factors that are also pushing. And those factors don’t act equally on all industries, as Craig said. Nor do they act equally on all demographic groups. So the pull factors, this is the one the media is obsessed with. And by the way, the Canadian and the American media are for some reason obsessed with the decline of great cities. If you look at the number of stories that have been written on the decline of New York, on San Francisco and on Toronto. By the way, three places, I believe that will be best positioned to come back strongly. It’s the smaller cities across our country, the Windsors, the Detroit’s in the United States, the Pittsburghs, the Toledos, the Akrons will be much more hard pressed and some of those outlying suburbs. But that that’s nonetheless the pull factors. Families moving to suburbs accentuate, less so in Canada, much more so in the United States. So don’t confuse the two trends. And in the United States, not due to COVID, but due to the fact that cities are inhospitable to families, mainly from a point of view, not just of crime, but they’re not good educational options. It accelerates and compresses family formation moves. People tend to make a move when they have children and when they require more space. The example I always use is my own parents moved from Newark, New Jersey, to an outlying suburb in New Jersey when I was two and my brother was about to be born. Not because they didn’t like Newark, but because they needed more space and a backyard, a desire for four public amenities. And I think we will see and I think there is some fear of public transit and a fear of public transit and transit. And I think that’s likely to stay for a while. But there are also push factors. There are factors that are pushing certain groups back towards urban cores. One of the biggest groups to empty cities if you look at the data… By the way, the data on San Francisco now suggests, this is hysterical, that 4,000 people left San Francisco permanently. 4000, not 400,000, 4000. One of the biggest groups to leave cities were young people. Young people are often in college and making a great city their temporary home. And big cities are great college towns or they’re there after college and mom and dad got on the phone and said get the hell out of the city and get back with us where you can be safe. Cities are very attractive to young people. Mark Moos at the University of Waterloo calls it, not gentrification or a subset of gentrification, he calls it youthification. They have great labor markets. They have abundant job opportunities. They have always been attractive to young people after pandemics going back to the Middle Ages, after the Spanish flu. And now they’re filled with consumption amenities and there are where other young people are. You can make friends, you can go on dates, you can find a partner. In the United States young people ages 25 to 34 accounted for over half a population increase in urban areas. And if young people have flocked back to cities they will do so. But the big change, I think, as Craig alluded to, that’s going to impact downtowns is the shift to remote work. The best data we have is for the United States unfortunately. This is something I have bemoaned since being in Canada. I wish our data were better. Mary actually and her team helped me get some more Canadian data, which I will reflect later in the slide show. But before the pandemic, between two and five percent of workers were working full time remotely and about 15 percent were part time remote. When the pandemic hit, nearly every professional worker was working remote. But that still meant about half of the workforce of essential workers were working in person. Now, about a third to 40 percent of the workforce is still remote, like we all are today. After the pandemic, as best we can estimate, based on pretty darn good surveys. And I should have a piece coming out in The Wall Street Journal this weekend or next on this. So I’ve looked at these surveys very closely and under the tutelage of a very fine editorial team. 20 percent to 25 percent of people we expect to work full time, remote. Another 20 to 30 percent will work part time remote. That’s a big chunk of people shifting from in office work to remote work. The surveys say that actually workers would like to work more of the time from home. And I look at remote work as a perk that talented people, the so-called creative class, are going to have to be offered if you want to retain them. Companies are saying 20 to 25 percent. So people actually would like to work remotely more than companies are predicting. And by the way, I think Canada and Toronto have been a little bit less likely to accept this. I don’t know why that is. I think American cities have been more likely to be accepting of these changes. I think we are a little bit resistant to them and I don’t know why that is. Look, the other change is going to be is the change to retail Craig talked about, that retail has been devastated. Commodity retail. You know, I always say that before the pandemic in Toronto, I could get very little of what I needed online, certainly compared to my life in the United States. Once the pandemic struck by, say, May or June of last year, I could get everything I needed delivered to me in much greater diversity than any U.S. city, with the possible exception of New York within two hours. And not just packages from Amazon or Walmart. I mean, gourmet groceries, whatever I wanted. Fish, meats, cheeses, whatever. It could be to my house in two hours. So much so that I got to know all the delivery people personally and congratulate them and thank them when they came to our door. So retail is going to have to be remade. That’s not going to be bounce back. That’s a big implication for downtowns because that’s where lots of retail is. It’s going to have to be remade as much more experiential, unique food, coffee, shopping experiences. And I think a big trend will be an emphasis on health and wellness and an arena for social interaction. But the changes to the office will be much, much bigger. The office, as we know it, will not come back. The place that you park your laptop, go to a cubicle, sit around and do your work. People who can avoid that will avoid that. I’ve long been a remote worker. The office will have to become an arena for social interaction and for context. And it will need to be a place. And we’re seeing these stories. I’ve been talking to architects about how these offices in superstar districts like downtown Toronto, Lower Manhattan and midtown Manhattan, downtown London, are going to be completely remade. Filled with amenities, the likes of which we’ve not seen for these top level superstar talent. The office will have to be a brand statement, a statement of who you are, like a brand store. It will have to be experiential. There’ll be lots more emphasis on health and wellness, much more casualness. Offices will have to move some of their functions outside like we’ve moved dining outside. Here’s one for you. Large tech companies have been gobbling up office space in major superstar cities, especially in the United States. They’ve been the big thing that’s gobbling up office space in New York as banks and insurance companies don’t. I’ve been struggling to understand why that is. These big tech companies, the main companies, Google, Amazon, Facebook and others, have seen a 40 percent reduction in onboarding new people. These office spaces, however they’re redefined, or the use of coworking spaces are critical, not for us, we’re remote workers, were well established in our career, we know our colleagues, we know our collaborators. Office space is critical to onboarding new talent. The office will no longer be the office as a building. It will be a neighborhood. You will look at a day at the office like going on a local business trip. You’ll go in and you’ll have a meeting. You’ll go out to a coffee shop or a restaurant. You may do a fitness activity, go for a walk, go for a bike ride. The retail surrounding the office will have to be much more actively curated and special, and third places will have to be reimagined in powerful ways. Calling upon a title, invoking a title from the late, great Jane herself. We’re looking at the death and life of the central business district. The central business district, as we know it is a relic of the industrial age. Office workers packed and stacked into vertical nine to five skyscraper canyons. These were deadend and deadly districts. The kind of districts Holly White and Jane Jacobs railed about. We’re looking at a forecasted 20 percent reduction in demand for office space, an estimated five to 10 percent reduction in spending in central business district economies. And I think we’re going to have to shift from the. And most remote works jobs are in urban centers, which is very interesting. So most people who do remote amenable jobs live in in large metropolitan areas and in urban centers. So we’re going to have to reimagine these business districts not as business districts, but as social interaction districts, recreational districts. You’ll help me come up with a better term. Live work neighborhoods. We can actually add more housing and make them more balanced neighborhoods. Yes, they’ll be primarily working neighborhoods. But at the margin, say, 20 or 30 percent of that space can be reused for housing and residential housing. The shift from the central business district to the neighborhood business district, a big one for a place like Toronto and other large cities, but also other Canadian cities. An opportunity if you’re going to shift work and do less work in the central business district to shift it out closer to where people live. So more remote workers are choosing to live, especially those with families, in suburbs and in rural areas. You see this boom in people looking in places like the Muskokas, Prince Edward County, blah, blah, blah. There will be an increased demand for coworking in those spaces. I recall a meeting I had with WeWork before they went through all of their comeuppance and in that meeting I suggested that WeWork should begin to build coworking spaces in the suburbs. I was laughed out of the room. My friends who used to work with WeWork now call me or email and say that was really a dumb idea that we had. In fact, there is a incredible need for coworking spaces and office facilities, suburban satellite facilities out in the suburbs. This is an enormous opportunity to repurpose old abandoned suburban office parks. We’re actually working with office developers throughout the United States and North America to think about this, to turn abandoned malls. And this is an advantage, of course, to pre-war walkable suburbs and a disadvantage to. Look what is they call this a fifteen minute neighborhood, I like to call it a complete community where you can do everything you need within a short walk or bike from home. Why are these good? They reduce long commutes, particularly great for a big place like Toronto. They save energy to improve the environment. They mitigate climate change and allow us to have a more integrated life balancing home and work. But I mentioned this. The real challenge is that the fortunate third of us who do knowledge work, who do professional work, we do high technology work, work in finance and insurance sector, educational, medical sectors. We’re going to be able to take advantage of all of that. We’re buying more housing. We’re resetting our lives. We’re taking advantage of remote work. We’re spending more time with our kids. We’re getting off the treadmill. But that’s only a small fraction of society. The COVID crisis has already reinforced existing preexisting divides of economic, social, racial and geographic inequality. Visible minorities have been five times more likely to get COVID, four times more likely to be hospitalized from COVID and two times more likely to die. Black Canadians are one and a half times plus more likely to be working in low wage jobs, less than 16 dollars an hour. People in the top fifth of the income distribution are five times more likely to be able to take advantage of remote work and avoid, of course, all the dangers of infection that go along with being an essential worker. Are we looking at a playback of the 1920s? This follows on Craig’s important remarks. Are we looking at the Roaring 2020s? I think so. The Spanish flu was followed by the roaring 20s, vibrant economic economy, a stock market boom, a surge in arts and culture, the jazz age, flappers, New York City added two million people. Greenwich Village surged as an artistic and cultural centre. Plus, we began the onset of suburbanization. But it was until now the single most unequal decade, it was the decade of The Great Gatsby, the rise of the robber barons of tremendous inequity. It took until two decades after the pandemic, until the New Deal period of the 1930s and the postwar era of the 40s and 50s. Can we seize the opportunity or will history repeat ourselves? Will we be satisfied with going back to a vibrant economy, but one which is far less equal and inclusive? Or will we take the opportunity to build back more inclusive and resilient places? That choice is ours. Thank you very much.

Mary Rowe [00:40:56] Richard, thanks very much. OK, so again, as we often say in our CityTalk sessions, you know, it’s one big ongoing conversation and we’re going to be having it all day. So the fact that Craig and Richard have given us these perspectives and tried to sort of stir us up first thing. I just want to say that we have people coming in from seven time zones and I really appreciate the people on the West Coast who got up early. So hello, Victoria and Vancouver, thank you for doing that. And the mountain time zones in between and Central. I think we have every province but the territories here on the call. So and then lots of people coming in from Asia and from Europe and I see some from Africa as well. So terrific to have this. As I said, it’s a global conversation. And to actually put it into context for us, we’ve got Richard Barkham, who is the Global Chief Economist for CBRE based in Boston, and he’s going to now give you his perspective and then we’ll have a bit of a chance to have the three of them in conversation with each other before we break at forty five minutes after the hour, at quarter to 12:00 Eastern and again, folks, just to reassure you, slides will be posted at canurb. You’ll find them. This recording will be posted there. And if you have particular questions that you want the three of them to tackle in the conversation that will commence when Richard is finished, just throw them into the chat. We’ll try to get to them. OK, Mr. Barkham, so nice to see you. Thank you for joining us.

Richard Barkham [00:42:16] Very nice to see you, too. So I think that downtown areas do have a problem. I don’t think it is a existential or a fundamental problem, but I do think the balance of economic forces are moving against the downtown area. And I think that we’re going to have to do something with policy or it is just possible that some sort of cycle of disinvestment that we’ve seen before that that could spiral out of control is going to hit home. So what I want to do is explain why I think that. Instead of throwing a bunch of kind of disparate real estate facts at you, I just wanted to put a little bit of a framework around it and give you perhaps something that you, I’m sure you’re familiar with. A potted history of cities in the Western world, which I see is is kind of the downtown area really comes out of a battle between centrifugal forces, which are forces that kind of push economic activity to the outskirts versus centripetal forces. And I do think that the centrifugal forces are on the increase. But let’s just remember 1890, broadly speaking, to 1950 you had centripetal forces dominating. A manufacturing sector that tended to cluster together. Wages were low. Families needed access to cheap, high density housing and retail services clustered around those households and were specialized, providing urban services that I think actually were very economical for households. Transport costs were high. Commuting was expensive. And we didn’t particularly have vibrant downtown centres, but we had economically viable downtown centres dominated as they were, by manufacturing activity. But the period I want to kind of draw attention to is probably the period from 50 to 1990 where we see the centripetal forces taken over by centrifugal forces and we see manufacturing, we see activity dispersed to the suburbs. Manufacturing tends to consolidate, doesn’t need to do anymore, needs more land. So it moves first to the suburbs and then to emerging markets. Wages tend to rise. People want more space. Families dispersed to the suburbs to get big houses. Retail follows. You have a wave of more creation, kind of consolidating economic activity in the suburbs and of course, transport costs fall. And you probably got one earner in the household. Commuting is less expensive. So you’ve got a city structure that is, you know, it facilitates suburban and exurban location with people commuting to the downtown where they need to, although quite a lot of economic activity also in the suburbs. And that, you know, I just, the back of my mind with some of the things I’m seeing about real estate, I think that’s all a bit of an apocalyptic vision. But but some things that I’m seeing worry me and point towards the growth of centrifugal forces. But of course, in the period 1990 to 2020, we had a real urban renaissance, centripetal forces dominating. We are all about the growth of the service sector. Firstly, finance and domestic services, then international finance and hyper finance and more recently, the tech sector. These are sectors that really needed to cluster together. Wages were rising, family size shrunk. So families needed less space, but the kind of more cash rich but time poor. And so we have this kind of flowering of food and beverage as well. And of course, transport costs rise with and it’s not really the direct cost of transport. It’s the it’s the opportunity cost of people’s time. So there’s a real preference, I think, particularly of the professional managerial, scientific, technical occupation grades to really close the downturn. And we’ve had this kind of urban renaissance that I’ve seen across the Western world. And, you know, this is this is what I think this this is for for for better or worse. And, you know, I recognize that the inequities that have grown within cities, the really high cost of housing that has arisen as well, the Western world is chronically short of housing. But what I’m seeing from real estate, I begin to wonder whether we’re moving into a situation where the centripetal forces are being replaced by centrifugal forces, particularly around another work, as other speakers have referred to, this just remote working, you know, and just the remote working, allowing families for the first time to escape and find not just more space or a backyard, but actually affordability, begin to actually own a place. And, of course, you know, this is all about the digital economy. It’s not really a pandemic thing. The pandemic has accelerated the digital economy, but it is all about that. And, of course, you know, when I say transport costs fall, I don’t mean they actually fall. But if people only need to go into the office twice a week or three times a week, then effectively commuting is less expensive. The tie to the downtown area is becoming slightly less strong. So, you know, that’s the framework. That’s what I’m beginning to worry about. What do I see in real estate? Well, it’s just this come to the Zoom phenomenon. I don’t want to I’m not an advocate for this particular technology, but we know what we’re talking about. It’s remote working. Our surveys tell us that 84 percent of businesses plan to accelerate the digitalization of work, more digital tools, more video conferencing. How do we think about. This is something as the world’s biggest real estate services company that we we really have to grapple about, grapple with and think about. We make a lot of money out of office leasing. And this is this is kind of the you know, what we’ve come up with. It’s a little bit technical. It’s not quite as bad I think as, you know, some of the surveys have suggested. What we think based on detailed surveys of our clients, is that probably we’ll see about a 32 percent drop in the number of days in the office. But actually, that only equates to a nine percent drop in the demand for office space. So what you know, what we’ve got here just in this little schema here is maybe in 2019, people spending on average 4.3 days per week in the office. We see that dropping to 3.25. That’s a kind of 32 percent drop in demand for office space. We don’t think that companies will be able to capture all of that in terms of reducing their their amount of leased space, because, you know, people will want to come. You know, they’ll all want to be in the office. It’s all about meeting. It’s all about the business trip. As Richard explained, it’s all about interaction, teamwork. You know, people will all have to be there at the same time. So you can’t even that out. You’ve got peak loading. We think there’s an efficiency factor that will cut back that that drop in demand, number of days worked in the office into actual space required. You know, companies at best will be able to capture maybe 55 percent of that. But then I think also around this kind of reimagining of the office, the creation of amenity, the creation of of of, you know, space to collaborate for teamwork. We know with teams the nature of work is changing and and teams are everything within companies. They are responsible for organizing work within companies and outside of work, so everything revolves around the team. I think that’s going to require some dedensification. Offices have seen a huge densification, just a constant lowering of space per worker over the last 20 years. We see some of that reversing, in fact, quite a lot of that reversing. So I think this kind of 32 percent drop in days in the office actually amounts to only nine percent drop in demand for space. But this is it is still, nevertheless, a economic hit to the downtown area, less revenue going into the the assets of the downtown area and that that that is something that could trigger less investment. And that’s what we have to watch out for. You know, we think. There’s normally a pretty you know, if you look at the North American situation, a pretty close relationship between vacancy and rental growth. And you can see that these things oscillate in inverted relationship with one another over time. We’ve had a really long boom in in kind of office employment growth in the United States. Strangely enough, a huge growth in office use in employment over the last 10 years. You know, with that long growth in vacancy, a long trend up in in rental values, making core areas quite expensive. But we do think that kind of with both the economic hit from COVID, but more particularly the acceleration of remote working, we do see quite a long period of rents being stagnant and vacancy being elevated. We just have to watch that. We have to handle it. Because it is a hit to the downtown area. And one thing I would just caution against, the scale of the economic boom that is coming is just is really huge. And I don’t know whether it’s going to last a decade, but it’s going to last a couple of years at the very least. And I think we just need to be careful that we don’t lose sight of these long term trends, you know, in the general prosperity that’s coming just because governments are spending a lot of money. That will be a pulse. It won’t necessarily be a 10 year trend, in my view. Just looking at the other part of this that kind of concerns me and other other speakers will have referred to this. You know, I’m just looking here at rent growth in the industrial and logistics sector. This is a sector that normally follows the economy. Like every other real estate sector. You get employment falling, you get rents falling. But you know what’s really amazed us in the real estate community, or perhaps I shouldn’t have done really, but, you know, Q4 of 2020, we’ve had the biggest hit to the economy in 100 years. But we have record net absorption of industrial space, you know, something like 300 million square feet in the Americas. And it’s just really, you know, the acceleration of Internet penetration of retail and just no impact on rents whatsoever, no impact on absorption. And of course, you know, this isn’t a specific downtown impact. You know, it’s kind of goods being distributed, it’s a hit to all retail. But I think the fact is that goods are being distributed from these big centers in the suburbs. Again, it takes income out of the downtown area that otherwise would have been there. Actually, it takes. My point is it takes it takes income out of all retail assets. But quite a lot of those are in downtown areas. So this hits the big malls for the first time ever I think. I’ve heard, you know, the big power malls in the United States, which have been just kind of money generating machines over the last 20 or 30 years. You know, they are seeing rises in vacancy as well. And it’s interesting to me that the mall is probably the most successful business model of the 20th century, that it’s finally being kind of threatened by this. But the mall itself is just a recreation of a kind of idealized downtown. And there is some negatives for the for the downtown area coming out of this. You know, just and my point is that retail is going online. We know that. It surged. You know, there is a thought that it might drop off again. I do actually see under the boom conditions that are coming, some sort of surprising revival in physical retail, particularly as food and beverage reinvents itself. But I don’t think we should be blind to the longer term from the from the kind of stimulus led growth that we’re about to see. Physical retail, you know, same sort of analysis. We’ve had this surge in retail sales as everybody has sat at home and bought stuff online. But nevertheless, you know, retail rents are heading downwards. And again, that could, the potential there for underinvestment hitting downtown areas, probably quite high. As I say, all sectors of physical retail have been affected, downtown and suburban, but we’re focused along with the hit to the office sector. Then I think we know we need to be just a little bit careful about what’s going on in downtown areas. You know, a lot of the just a game on this area of retail. It’s been a record year for retail bankruptcies. Now, all of these these these companies will come back, but they’ll come back more hybrid. They’ll come back more online, and there will be a shrinkage in the amount of retail space that is required. Hotels are much less. Hotels have been really hard hit. We’ve seen that one of the areas we’ve got debt delinquency. We’ve got, you know, actual hotels being sold, big famous hotels ceasing to exist. Anything that’s anything in the hotel sector that is catered for. Domestic leisure is done well. But these luxury and upscale hotels, upscale, upper midscale, these are these are downtown full service hotels. You know, they are still struggling. You know, frankly, I think this is probably the recovery story is two to three years in the hotel sector. But, you know, I think the hotel sector is one of the ones I am least worried about. I mean, the appetite for leisure and culture and travel, you know, it will almost certainly come back, but it will take some time. And to the extent that these big full service hotels are located in the downtown area, although it’s not a long term issue, I think it is a near-term threat to the downtown area. Just how how much these these upper end hotels are being hit and suffering from underinvestment. Just on apartments, what are we seeing? You know, apartments across the western world, particularly in North America, extremely strong cycle last 10 years, you know, associated, I think, with a lot of factors, demographics, lack of access to mortgages, just very strongly out of the traps after the great financial crisis, but hit hard by COVID-19. Well, I say hit hard. The actual, because governments have intervened in the housing market, we haven’t seen the vacancy rising too much. But what I want to point to is where we have seen vacancy rising, it’s been in the big urban cores. It seems to be not. The idea of urban fight, as Richard spoke to, I think is fanciful. There’s no real evidence that people are leaving cities. But what has happened is there is a wave of new renters that haven’t come into the cities that, you know, why pay a full rent when all the urban amenities are closed. So I think this will pick up. This isn’t something that particularly worries me as a long term trend much more worried about the decentralization of retail and the decentralization of work as a long term trend. So just to finish off, you know, I do believe centripetal forces of are on the increase. Service sector jobs are dispersing. You know, families want more space, partly as an after effect of the of the pandemic, but they specifically want more affordability and if they can get a place of their own and still have a job that is kind of urban in nature, then you’re going to see some dispersal activity. I think retail that that growth in online retail, I think is just going to is set to continue, particularly it’s penetrating the grocery sector. And I think that takes income out of central areas. And of course, transport costs are falling because people don’t need to commute as much. So centrifugal forces are increasing. I think, you know, we need to address this from a policy perspective fairly quickly. We need to focus on mass transit to get people back on mass transit. There’s going to be an after effect there. We maybe even need temporary cuts to property taxes. We need to focus on arts, events, festivals, leisure, sports, anything that boosts income in the downtown area. You know, as people have said, more focus on live and play, perhaps less on work. Let’s get more affordable housing downtown. You know, I don’t think, as I say, this is an existential issue for downtown areas. They’re extremely resilient. But just remember that period from 1950 to, you know, kind of 1990, these these long waves in the city, you know, if they get out of control and you get a cycle of underinvestment creeping in, you know, they can get out of control and they can they can blight areas for longer than we would really want. So we need to address this with policy. You know, just like all of us need a COVID-19 shot in the arm, I think Downtown’s probably needs some sort of digital vaccine that comes from policy. So thank you for listening. I hope that was interesting.

Mary Rowe [01:01:56] I like the digital vaccine idea, Richard. That’s creative. If I can ask Richard and Craig to come back and we have a bit of time. We are on a sharp deadline because we’re trying to get many voices in, as we say. So we have to finish sharp on the 45 minutes. I will watch for that. Lots of comments, lots of enthusiasm and appreciation for the three of you taking the time. And I just want to say, just a reminder, who said economists are boring? Come on, you’ve just had 75 minutes with three really interesting economists. So thanks, guys. Question. Let’s start with this. Based on what people are putting into the chat. Can we imagine that CBDs and downtowns will become, will they come back in a way that is more inclusive?

Richard Florida [01:02:40] Not without policy, and I think Richard said that. I think that without policy, they come back in a way that’s much more exclusive and, look, property is expensive and these are the most expensive areas of cities, so there is no way they can come back. And I think, and just one thing in addition to what Richard said, there’s a very good paper circulating by a downtown expert called the Rise of Downtown Disorder. And in this vacuum, we have seen our downtowns experience a wave of I wouldn’t say not necessarily violent crime, property crime and just disarray that I would add to the policy mix of them having to come back, that if they remain this disorderly, if they remain fearful, which has happened less so in the. I want to say much more so in the American, US context than in the Canadian context. I think that’s another area that policy has to address that when people get scared, they get afraid. But no, without policy, they’re going to be not as inclusive as we’d nearly like.

Richard Barkham [01:03:40] Yeah, if I could just chip in there as well. I mean, before I was with with with CBRE, I was with Grosvenor, the big London landed estate with three hundred acres of Mayfair and Belgravia. It’s a little known fact. I mean, that is some of the prime real estate in the world. It’s a little known fact that 30 percent of the housing units on that estate were affordable. So, you know, I think you can I think most cities will need around 25 percent, big high performing cities. Will need for 25 percent of their stock as affordable. But I’m not talking about old fashioned, what we in the UK called council housing. You can be really creative about this. And you can you can have a mixture of tenure types. You can have people who can move through and shared ownership schemes. But this is really, I think the you know, one of the areas in which policy can really intervene is in terms. And it’s bankable, you know, in an era when bond rates are like zero, you know, big institutions will invest in this. Patient long term capital can be fine if governments can get the right legal framework for this to take place.

Mary Rowe [01:04:55] Richard, do you think housing is the key thing? Would you, Richard Barkham, would you would you encourage and create policies to incentivize conversions of office buildings that may not need to have all their space taken up by commercial uses?

Richard Barkham [01:05:05] Well, I mean, I think there’s a technical challenge there with large floor plans. You know, it’s not easy to do that, that conversion. I mean, where it can be, yes, I do think so. And I think one of the secrets of success for cities is just flexibility within the built environment. You know, again, the kind of Grosvenor’s state example, the Georgian house, you know, was a single family home, you know, became an office. It’s gone back to a single family home. To the extent that we can get flexibility within the built environment, particularly now, particularly around housing, I would agree.

Mary Rowe [01:05:44] So zoning, obviously lots of implications. Lots of people on the chat that know zoning. Craig Alexander, do you do you think that there’s a choice to be made about investing in downtown cores and not in the periphery? Or is there some way to enable a kind of healthier decentralization? Do you think that might happen? Craig first and then whoever wants to jump in.

Craig Alexander [01:06:04] Like most things, like most things in life, you know, balance is a preferred approach. Right?

Mary Rowe [01:06:10] Right.

Craig Alexander [01:06:10] So, you know, yes, there’s been a shift with with the the acceleration in digital and the the the more flexible remote workplace. You’ve got to shift in in in preferences towards, OK, now now maybe I want to live in the suburbs because now I actually can or I want to live farther out of the city because my employer said that I don’t have to come back into the office when the pandemic is over, but at the same time. So you’re going to need to make investments to to support to support those individuals, like expanding the, you know, the digital infrastructure is a great example. And then and then there’s the, yeah, but we still have to invest in our our urban centers. And just to pick up on that last thing that you were talking about, you know, when when I talked about, you know, if we go back, we look at other business cycles and we said, OK, so what is a recovery look like? We would be talking about, OK, so how do we what are what are stimulus measures that will accelerate economic growth and recover the jobs that were lost? And in this case, we’re actually talking more about like not just GDP. What we’re actually talking about, not just GDP and jobs, the number of jobs. Right. What we’re now talking about is is more inclusive recovery that includes, you know, good quality jobs and also changing changing the outcomes across the income distribution. And this is why actually the the notion that, like thinking about housing affordability, affordability issues is actually part of your your economic recovery strategy, which I don’t think has ever been true in past recessions, like, I don’t think that when we if we look back in 08 or we look back in the early 90s, I don’t think we would have been talking about affordable housing as part of a recovery strategy.

Mary Rowe [01:07:54] Yeah. So is there we’re counting the wrong things. I mean, there were lots of comments in the chat about this. Is it really only about economic growth? Richard Florida, you’ve kind of..

Richard Florida [01:08:04] You better you better have economic growth because you’re not going to do a lot of things if you don’t. I think we, as urbanists, have gotten into a very unproductive argument about do we need to limit economic growth in favor of equity? We need economic growth and equity. And and and and the key to economic growth in any advanced society is urban concentration. That’s that’s what we know from Jane Jacobs to Robert Lucas to Ed Glaeser. That’s where innovation comes from. But we can do it in a more equitable way, both on the supply side by providing more affordable housing. Richard nailed that. If we’re going to convert commercial to residential, highest and best use residential compare has a higher price point. We better include some measures to create affordability. In New York, you know, you build new, you create density, you build 25 to 30 percent affordable. Richard also mentioned these new tools, impact funds. I’m part of a major impact fund now in Toronto where we’re going to build our fund based on realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals for inclusive, safe, resilient and affordable cities. So there is a wash of capital that can come to this with the right kind of governance around it and we can build more. It’s not going to be the old way. And but on the demand side, nearly half of our jobs are shitty, low wage service jobs done by essential workers. We’ve got to raise those incomes and we’ve got to figure out a way collectively to do what we did for manufacturing jobs 75 years ago. To make those jobs higher paying, more productive, engaging, better jobs with internal career paths. If we fail to do that, there’s going to be hell to pay. You can already see the political consequences of that in our elections. But I think there’s an opportunity. There’s a once in a century opportunity to do it. Now.

Mary Rowe [01:09:41] Both of you. Sorry, all three of you, all of you have made the point about retail being completely transformed, disrupted through this and the ramping up of online and CUI has been doing a lot on bringing back Main Street. And we see the restore the core conversation as kind of the other side of that coin because, of course, every downtown CBD has Main Streets too. But do you think that that consumers can contribute in a positive way to this? If all those street retail jobs are gone off of downtown streets, where are those people going to work? Where are those jobs going to be?

Richard Florida [01:10:14] Can I say one thing about this Mary, very quickly. The biggest negative consequence of all of this is on the service workers and central business districts. The research is clear on this. It’s not you and I and Richard and Craig who can work remotely. It’s the people who service those buildings that get a whack that’s unbelievable.

Mary Rowe [01:10:32] So I don’t know what where where are those where are those jobs going to surface?

Craig Alexander [01:10:36] That’s that’s the challenge, right? That that that’s what I was trying to stress around the fact that what has happened is we have had an acceleration of the IT revolution and we were always worried about what was going to happen or we were always cognizant of the fact that a lot of, you know, sort of middle skill positions were in in declining demand and that digital skill requirement was going to go up. And we, you know, there was a lot of thinking around like what will what will the I.T. revolution do to labor markets? And what what I was trying to stress was that that the pandemic has actually accelerated the the impact of of that of that digital transformation. And so when we look at the job numbers, you see a lot of cyclicality. Like you see, you know, when the lockdown ended in in May, you know, we had a huge rebound in employment. So what you didn’t see underneath the surface was that the actual demand for skills had changed. Right. And it’s because it’s because you can’t see it because of everything else that’s going on. And I think that’s where we need to be mindful in terms of like from a labor market recovery point of view, there are going to be deep, deep, deep labor market scars created by this environment. And and, you know, Richard Richard was was was was absolutely focused on the right people. It’s like there’s a lot of service industry people that can’t go back to the job that they had before and they don’t have the skills they need for for success down the road. And so that’s that’s one of the big legacies we’ve got to overcome.

Richard Florida [01:12:18] And you had the answer in your previous job, Mary. Upgrade those jobs and a basic universal income. You had the answer. The answer was there and we were working on it. We need a basic universal income. We’ve seen what the stimulus can do and how good it is for the economy. It’s not just for the people, it is for the people, but it’s good for the economy. It’s good for savings and better jobs. We were working on it before that got derailed. So we kind of know what to do. It’s just been politically a challenge.

Craig Alexander [01:12:40] I don’t I don’t think we’re going to end up with a universal income program, but I do think we are going to end up with a better, better income support framework. But that’s just my two cents.

Mary Rowe [01:12:49] Go ahead, Richard Barkham.

Richard Barkham [01:12:51] Yeah, no, I would say just just just to be careful is urbanists, urbanists as urbanists we can’t solve every problem. Some of this is about national tax and spend. And there is just maybe a lot of this inequality has come through globalization, it’s come through some sort of technology, but some of it is just the kind of Thatcher, Reagan kind of tax cuts that took place in the early 80s. If we’re moving a little bit, you know, towards a more balanced, you know, sort of taxation system, that’s not something individual cities can do, but it’s a national priority that has to tackle that.

Mary Rowe [01:13:34] Well, Richard, we at the Canadian Urban Institute like to think that the drivers of the economy and the drivers of social innovation are actually local municipal governments and local city ecosystems, of which all of you participate. So we don’t underestimate the power of actually affecting national tax policy and provincial tax policy by advocating from the order of government that’s closest to the people, just saying, so, but I hear you that it’s, these are larger issues. And I just want to take a moment to thank you guys for coming on and getting us off to a really, really important start. You can see the chat has kind of blown up with lots of people going in about a whole bunch of things. Everything is going to get posted. The fact that these that we got three distillations of these these folks that are spending their days thinking about this to get us into the path of what is the future for downtowns. So I just want to thank everybody for joining us and to plug the fact that in 15 minutes we’re going around the world to Greg Clark in London, to Abha in Washington, D.C., works for the World Bank globally, with Gabriella who is from Mexico City, but is in Amsterdam and with Alicia, who is with SPUR from San Francisco. So a really important session about how we’re part of something much bigger than just the cities that we happen to all live in. So thanks very much, guys. Really great to have you. Richard, Richard and Craig. I really appreciate you taking the time. Thanks, everybody.


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

00:33:16 Gina Lewis – CUI: Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
00:34:05 Dawn Pond: Hello from Peterborough Downtown Business Improvement Area’s Downtown Vibrancy Project!
00:34:21 Gina Lewis – CUI:
Craig Alexander, Chief Economist & Executive Advisor, Deloitte Canada https://www.linkedin.com/in/craig-alexander-9ba7b978/
Craig Alexander is the first Chief Economist at Deloitte Canada. He has over twenty years of experience in the private sector as a senior executive and leading economist in applied economics and forecasting. He performed macroeconomic research, regional and sector analysis, and fiscal market forecasting and modelling.

Richard Florida, Professor, Author, Urbanist https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardflorida/
Richard Florida is a leading researcher, author and speaker. He is also a University Professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, Co-founder of CityLab, and Founder of the Creative Class Group. He is the author of The Rise of the Creative Class, Flight of the Creative Class, Who’s Your City?, The Great Reset, and The New Urban Crisis.

00:34:22 paul mackinnon: Hello from Downtown Halifax!
00:34:26 Kellie Grant: Good morning from Saskatoon
00:34:27 Kieron Hunt: Greetings from Downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia!
00:34:28 Brad Krizan: Hello from Calgary, a city who’s downtown is in desperate need of a major reboot!
00:34:34 Linda Weichel: Hello from downtown Toronto!
00:34:36 Christina Sisson: Hello from the City of Kawartha Lakes! We are actively working to revitalize two of our downtowns – Fenelon Falls and Lindsay!
00:34:38 Gina Lewis – CUI:
Richard Barkham, Global Chief Economist, CBRE https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardbarkham/
Richard Barkham is a specialist in macro and real estate economics. He joined CBRE in 2014 as Executive Director and Global Chief Economist. Richard is the author of two books and numerous academic and industry papers. In 2012 he published ‘Real Estate and Globalisation’ (Wiley Blackwell, Oxford), which explains the impact on real estate markets of the rise of emerging markets such as China and Brazil. He has extensive consulting experience and is a Visiting Professor in the Department of Construction and Project Management at the Bartlett School, University College London.
00:34:40 Evangeline Sadler: Hi from Montreal and Policy Options at the Institute for Research on Public Policy.
00:34:43 Jacquie Severs: Good morning from Durham Region! Durham is home to 14 downtowns and main street areas. www.downtownsofdurham.ca
00:34:51 Angie Weddell: Hi from the City of Vancouver!
00:34:55 Robin McPherson: Hello from downtown St. Catharines.
00:35:03 P Reddy: Hi, All, from Durban in South Africa.
00:35:09 Dawn Alan: Hi from Downtown Charlottetown!
00:35:10 Susan Brown: Hello from Economic Development and Culture at the City of Toronto!
00:35:17 Harriet Stanford: Good morning from Fort St. John, BC!
00:35:19 Lori Girvan: Bonjour de Gatineau, traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin – Anishnaabeg peoples
00:35:33 Chelsea Whitty: Hello from Edmonton, AB
00:35:35 Gina Lewis – CUI: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
00:35:52 Katherine Danks: Good morning from TO
00:35:57 Gina Lewis – CUI: Keep the conversation going #restorethecore #bringbackmainstreet #citytalk @canurb
00:35:58 Patrick Martins: Good Morning from Edmonton, AB.
00:36:12 Shant Karabajak: Hello, from Montréal. 🙂
00:36:13 Lisa Hoffman: Bon matin from Montréal!
00:36:18 Dru Mohler: Good morning from Calgary AB
00:36:20 John Jung: Thanks to CUI for continuing to provide thought leadership in this urban space, especially as we are looking forward to a post-covid world..
00:36:23 Mark Garner: Hello from Downtown Toronto
00:36:27 Gina Lewis – CUI: To support CityTalk and the Canadian Urban Institute’s other city building initiatives, please donate at www.canurb.org/donate.
00:36:51 Sue Uteck: hello from Halifax! the best coast!
00:37:00 Bliksem Tobey: Good morning from New York.
00:37:02 Alan McNair: Greetings from Barrie ON
00:37:19 Fernando Cirino: Hello from Windsor
00:37:44 Nancy Tissington: Hello from Saint John, New Brunswick from UPTOWN!
00:37:50 Judy Lam: Greetings from Hamilton Economic Development – home to 13 BIA’s.
00:37:51 Richard Florida : Good morning everyone!!!!!
00:37:53 Gina Lewis – CUI: Our next session begins at 12pm and is on the future of downtowns and central business districts around the world. Speakers include Greg Clark, Global Head, Future Cities & New Industries, HSBC Group, London UK; Gabriella Gomez-Mont, Founder and Principal, Experimentalista, Amsterdam NL; Alicia John-Baptiste, President & CEO, SPUR, San Francisco CA; and Abha Joshi-Ghani, Senior Adviser, Public Private Partnerships, The World Bank, Washington, DC. Register for this session here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vdxY1WTTTwyy_GN9UzrcUA
00:38:31 Yurij Pelech: Greetings from Bessant Pelech Associates Inc (Mississauga ON) Development Planning + Project Management Consultants and Gerontology & LTC Consultants
00:38:35 Annie MacInnis: Hi from Annie, Kensington BIA ,Calgary
00:39:12 Augusto Mathias: Sao Paulo – Brazil
00:39:56 Diane Dyson: Use the hashtags to share on social media: #RestoreTheCore #BringBackMainStreets #CityTalk
00:40:48 Gina Lewis – CUI: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
00:41:26 Diane Dyson: Eeek: Correction #BringBackMainStreet
00:43:37 Richard Florida : For sure you can have mine. Email is florida@creativeclass,com and copy reham@creativeclass,com.
00:43:50 Richard Florida : Easier to grab at the CUI site!
00:45:43 Gina Lewis – CUI: These slides will be shared at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
00:51:46 Brad Krizan: Interesting where Arts & Culture lands on that chart…in comparison to municipalities seeing it as key to economic impact
00:52:20 Richard Florida : Yep. Our estimates for the US is 50% unemployment in arts and culture. FIFTY PERCENT!
00:53:28 Gina Lewis – CUI: We love your comments and questions in the chat! Share them with everyone by changing your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees”. Thanks!
00:54:16 Gina Lewis – CUI: You can find transcripts, presentations and recordings of today’s sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
00:55:31 Chris Fraser: Is it remote work – or roam work or roam offices (be they home, office or other)?
00:56:26 Brad Krizan: Not sure we need to make immigrants moving into downtown cores key to the success of downtown cores. That seems like a default strategy. Downtown’s need to be seen as a community for all, immigrants and naturalized Canadians alike
00:57:03 UR1: Agreed Brad
00:57:30 Dawn Pond: Thank you Craig!
00:57:52 Brian Gordon: Very informative Craig!
00:57:57 Marcy Burchfield: Here’s a template for Toronto Region’s regional recovery playbook that Craig & colleagues from Deloitte and Richard contributed to and partnered with the Toronto Region Board of Trade https://www.bot.com/Portals/_default/RR_WorkTrack4.pdf
00:58:06 Shahinaz Eshesh: Thank you Craig! Great overview
00:58:12 UR1: Thanks Craig
00:58:23 David Low: Hi everyone, David Low, Vic Park YYC
00:58:47 Shant Karabajak: Will the decks be available as well?<
00:59:03 Craig Alexander: Yes, decks are available
00:59:08 Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts, presentations and recordings of today’s sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
00:59:32 Mary W. Rowe: everything at www.canurb.org – it’ll all be there 🙂
01:00:36 Ted Tsiakopoulos: We need to ensure we can house all the new immigrants so a holistic approach is extremely important moving forward
01:01:50 Jayne Engle: Craig —Appreciate looking at GDP and conventional econ measures, however metrics that are not enough at the fore — eg massive climate risks, health and wellness measures for people and ecosystems, etc. Consumer spending driving ever extractive economic growth using same patterns and metrics is not going to drive transformative change to build equitable, regenerative cities. You say we need growth, but do you mean just GDP — how about growth of equality, growth of community resilience, of social capital, of mental wellness?
01:03:11 Dustin Poole: Hi everyone, Dustin Poole, The GO Technology Foundation / Vic Park YYC
01:06:27 Hamish Campbell: Need to be careful about use of terms “cities” and “urban cores”. For example, Hamilton and Kitchener in Canada and plenty of midsize cities in the US are cities in their own right with their own urban cores. They offer all the amenities of larger urban centres that Richard Florida just described with a lower cost of living and more housing choice.
01:06:48 Brad Krizan: Remote work isn’t just a perk though, its also an opportunity for people to better balance elements of their personal lives. Speaking as a parent, it does give me more flexibility to balance family and work than previous rigid workplace policies had allowed. This should be seen more as a balancing factor.
01:07:02 Kieron Hunt: There is a taxable benefit (mortgage and utilities write-offs) if a person can work from home 50% of the time or more, which allows for many hidden economic benefits for possible employees.
01:07:45 Marcy Burchfield: Love that statement—office as an arena for social interaction
01:13:50 Kay Matthews: applause!
01:13:58 UR1: Thanks Richard, very interesting
01:14:13 Brad Krizan: I’m not sure we can draw a parralell to the Roaring 20’s. This may be a reverse trend…maybe the rise of the suburbs? How do we look at relevant data…or do forward analysis that helps us understand where this may go. Bigger question is, will it be organic or are all levels of government hoping to ‘steer’ this?
01:14:58 Stacey Litwin-Davies: Hello from Stacey Litwin Davies from Litwin Davies Ltd. consultants, advisors, advocates and research on work, workplace and business transformation
01:15:34 Gina Lewis – CUI: Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.
01:16:00 Brent Penner: Curious what city governments will do if we see such a decline in working numbers in our city centres….devastating for transit ridership, and overall tax assessment on what used to be the highest paying properties will diminish – how will cities make up this revenue….
01:16:46 Voncelle Volté: ⚡ Everything they said is happening in the United States, as well. Look at Texas …

Indeed, we have a lot of work to do, as Global Citizens towards meeting #SDGs in a post-COVID world.
01:18:42 paul mackinnon: If commuting to CBD decreases, why would costs fall?
01:19:07 UR1: @Brent P, yes, and the tax shift from business to households for this reason
01:20:13 paul mackinnon: Oh, see. The “cost” of commuting being time, not the cost of providing it.
01:21:05 Marcy Burchfield: Question: what are the qualities of a downtown that would make it more resilient? For example, what’s the magic the mix of activities that will make some downtowns more attractive than others. Pre-pandemic TO downtown was on fire partly because of the clustering of high growth knowledge base sectors and innovation hubs–universities, research incubators, SME accelerators and lots of cultural & entertainment options. And lots of residential mix to keep the DT open past 5pm.
01:21:36 P Reddy: What is going to happen to all those high rise office blocks and the coffee shops that rely on them for business ?. How will this impact on the rates base of cities ?. I have been working from home – it has worked very well and there has been savings. I would not mind continuing in this mode. However, what will be the overal impact on the local and national economy. ?
01:21:57 paul mackinnon: Historically, cities have been able to use the tax base of the dense downtown to subsidize suburban living. If CBD tax base decreases, won’t that drive UP the cost of suburban living rather dramatically? Or will cities need to fundamentally change how they are funded?
01:23:47 P Reddy: Should more residential blocks be built downtown ?
01:26:10 UR1: @Marcy B. I think the value of downtown will be in creating “a neighbourhood” as Richard was talking about in his presentation. Building a central area that is curated to a specific industry/business need.
01:27:45 Marcy Burchfield: Downtown are typically an amalgam of neighbourhoods
01:28:49 Kay Matthews: The mall was never created as just consumer driven, but that is what it has become. It is and cannot be a “Complete Community”.
01:30:11 Lori Girvan: Recovery is an opportunity to transform narrow use-based zoning regimes and corollary (and distorted) property tax systems – in Toronto we lost cultural and commercial spaces unable to pay taxes based on highest and best use valuations as condo redevelopments. So there is residential in our downtowns but it is in accessible to workers in health, service, hospitality and retail sectors.
01:30:19 Marcy Burchfield: @UR1 Many of the suburban regional centres are replicating that model of an amalgam of neighbourhoods.
01:30:51 Hamish Campbell: Curious to know if the panelists think midsize cities will gain tenants from office loss in large city CBDs? For example, in the Greater Toronto context, midsize cities like London, Kitchener and Hamilton have relatively high office vacancy rates. Might Toronto’s loss be their gain (particularly given that the data suggests these midsize cities are seeing the biggest population inflows)
01:30:59 paul mackinnon: It would be really useful to separate out food/beverage from purchased goods in broad retail category. These industries have been impacted very very differently.
01:30:59 Mike Williams: Be interesting to hear what the panelists think of the powers of agglomeration that have so far driven big city and big downtown growth and whether that will be stronger than the factors discussed by the two Richard’s. Also, if flight is a big risk, why are housing prices going crazy in Toronto right now? Is it just interest rates?
01:31:36 UR1: yes, will be interesting to see how competitive the downtown investors become to offset the suburban shift.
01:31:37 Robert Plitt: Are we thinking long term enough? Does anyone imagine someone sitting on the 50th floor working in an office in 30 years?
01:32:25 Marcy Burchfield: @Mike Williams Bingo! Question: what are the qualities of a downtown that would make it more resilient? For example, what’s the magic the mix of activities that will make some downtowns more attractive than others. Pre-pandemic TO downtown was on fire partly because of the clustering of high growth knowledge base sectors and innovation hubs–universities, research incubators, SME accelerators and lots of cultural & entertainment options. And lots of residential mix to keep the DT open past 5pm.
01:33:19 Kellie Grant: I think that the downtown has the potential to be the best Complete Community but downtowns need to vastly increase housing in a larger variety of forms. Currently our downtown is upscale condos, low income housing a few townhouse type buildings and a variety of apartment buildings.
01:33:42 Kellie Grant: Also without a grocery store it cannot be successful.
01:33:45 UR1: Do you see the arts strengthening?
01:34:26 Philip Stewart: Are GTA municipalities planning for enough ‘logistics’ space – lands, over the next five years, as predictions indicate a need for some additional 2,000 acres or 800 ha. of land to serve this need?
01:34:30 Mary W. Rowe: ok gang let’s expose our video’s and join Richard
01:34:41 UR1: that’s a good one!
01:34:52 Cherise Burda: Main street retail, music venues, hospitality were already nose diving before COVID, due to many factors, including HABU. So remember the condos were built on the loss of these shuttered local biz, and condos marketed the street life of the neighbourhood for purchasers. With influx of rcondo residents, local biz recovery could revoker, but which ones and how?
01:35:09 Cherise Burda: Question for Richard (and others): What do you think is the role of downtown universities in recovery of downtowns? How can universities effectively work with their downtown neighbours (businesses, etc) to optimize campus and neighbourhood recovery?
01:35:13 UR1: Best time spent this year!
01:35:30 Dawn Pond: Thank you all, a very interesting 75 minutes!
01:36:01 Kay Matthews: How do you think suburbs can be redesigned to create complete communities?
01:36:50 Brad Krizan: So, let’s make sure Canadian Urbanism doesn’t inadvertently import the problems associated with US urbanism!
01:37:06 Robert Plitt: Are there any signals that commercial real estate sector are working together for better social outcomes ? Or is the focus on competition to win tenants?
01:37:55 David van Hemmen: “The rise of downtown disorder” would be an accurate characterization of what many are feeling in Vancouver
01:38:09 Alan McNair: What does Richard Barkham mean by “Affordable” housing?
01:38:30 Brad Krizan: Great question…Commercial Landlords do need to start thinking about creating ‘community’ within their buildings…while also balancing the competition amongst each other for revenue (ie., tenants)
01:39:20 Dustin Poole: @BradKrizan 100%!!
01:40:18 Robert Plitt: Its about time!
01:40:28 Marcy Burchfield: @bradkrizan–what’s the obstacles to adding childcare into commercial buildings
01:41:05 Brad Krizan: The obstacle Mary is really asset managers and proforma/excel analysis IMHO
01:41:46 Brad Krizan: (sorry, Marcy…not Mary)
01:41:59 Dustin Poole: There needs to be a focus on regenerative systems, and not just from a money perspective. We need to integrate education, community interaction, resource management, energy production
01:42:03 Voncelle Volté: ⚡ CBD are not designed to be “inclusive” and have become functionally obsolete by Blind Spot. Their focuses were on Leasing and Sales, not Charity. However, Team London Bridge understands the 360° needs of Tenants, Landlords, Shoppers, and the Environment.
01:42:04 Merrilees Willemse: Municipalities rely on commercial tax revenue – how do we manage through this drop?
01:42:06 Marcy Burchfield: @bradKrizan what if gov incents it?
01:42:07 Gina Lewis – CUI: You can find transcripts, presentations and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk Keep the conversation going #restorethecore #bringbackmainstreet #citytalk @canurb To support CityTalk and the Canadian Urban Institute’s other city building initiatives, please donate at www.canurb.org/donate.
01:42:19 Brad Krizan: Very blunt answer on jobs Richard…appreciate the candor
01:42:40 Annie MacInnis: universal income?
01:43:12 Dustin Poole: @MarcyBurchfield what if local nonprofits incent it?
01:43:28 Brad Krizan: Good point Marcy, not hard to adjust the assessment of those spaces as one lever municipally. Likely other levers could be implemented too…BUT, govt’s tend to not be very creative, nor do asset managers
01:43:32 Gina Lewis – CUI: Craig Alexander, Chief Economist & Executive Advisor, Deloitte Canada https://www.linkedin.com/in/craig-alexander-9ba7b978/ Richard Florida, Professor, Author, Urbanist https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardflorida/ Richard Barkham, Global Chief Economist, CBRE https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardbarkham/
01:43:40 Steven Mastoras: In Toronto, #bringbackmainstreets is only achievable with broader planning measures allowing property owners higher densities. Any suggestions on battling NIMBYism with broader provincial zoning for avenues?
01:43:44 Merrilees Willemse: logistics, delivery, personal health care
01:44:16 Marcy Burchfield: @bradkrizan–gov just has to incent, not operate. That’s where the NFP come in
01:44:31 Gina Lewis – CUI: Our next session begins at 12pm and is on the future of downtowns and central business districts around the world. Speakers include Greg Clark, Global Head, Future Cities & New Industries, HSBC Group, London UK; Gabriella Gomez-Mont, Founder and Principal, Experimentalista, Amsterdam NL; Alicia John-Baptiste, President & CEO, SPUR, San Francisco CA; and Abha Joshi-Ghani, Senior Adviser, Public Private Partnerships, The World Bank, Washington, DC. Register for this session here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_vdxY1WTTTwyy_GN9UzrcUA
01:44:41 Stacey Litwin-Davies: in person retail is not going to be necessarily about buying, but entertainment….think leisure and entertainment and bricks and mortar retail still may have purpose….how that will be reinvented will be interesting
01:44:59 Dustin Poole: @BradKrizan & @MarcyBurchfield nonprofits are way more creative and flexible on how they can operate
01:44:59 paul mackinnon: Any appetite for location-efficient mortgages? Are any places doing that, to ensure downtown workforce can live closer to downtown?
01:45:11 Lisa Hoffman: Ubi!
01:45:22 Suzy Godefroy: Great discussion! TY! How do we drive policy to recognize that our downtowns are an essential community service and need more support and more investment from all levels of government?
01:45:35 Dustin Poole: UBI for sure!
01:45:41 Brad Krizan: Totally agree Marcy. Issue is Landlord’s underwrite tenants based on financial covenant, not intangibles of amenities and services and creating a tenant ‘community’. Their thinking needs to change.
01:46:05 Voncelle Volté: ⚡ North American CRE-Office is designed to be patriarchal, when Leasing is the Business Model. That’s why women have yet to #LeanIn in Traditional CBD.
01:46:25 UR1: I wonder if universal income is sustainable. Greece comes to mind.
01:46:46 paul mackinnon: Why is there a consistent lack of attention on downtowns from fed and prov governments? Is it just because of political considerations? What do we need to do to change this?
01:47:02 Brian Gordon: Great discussion!
01:47:05 UR1: Loved this presentation!
01:47:06 Voncelle Volté: ⚡ Thank you, for hosting this conversation. 🌻🌻🌻
01:47:19 Brad Krizan: Thanks everyone, great start, great energy, great discussion!
01:47:26 Théa Morash: Thank you everyone!
01:47:29 Richard Florida : Any questions email me: florida@creativeclass.com
01:47:30 Julie Bourgoin: Great, intelligent, mindbending session! Thank you!
01:47:31 paul mackinnon: Richard, we’ll bring you a Halifax donair, once travel restrictions end!
01:47:31 Eleena Marley: Awesome discussion all – thanks!
01:47:36 Suzy Godefroy: TY again!!! RESTORE THE CORE!
01:47:37 Francois Duchastel: indeed, some report came out last week showing that the 50 (Fifty! ) richest individual in the US own the same as the top 60% !!! of lower income individual in the country….so it seems the money is there….somewhere
01:47:38 Robert Plitt: Awesome session!
01:47:39 Cherise Burda: fantastic thanks!
01:47:39 Dustin Poole: if anyone wants to discuss further feel free to email me at dustin.poole@gotechfoundation.com