The coronavirus pandemic has decimated city centers


MONTREAL – The country’s largest city centers are in difficulty. Prior to COVID-19, downtowns in some of Canada’s largest cities were struggling, but the novel coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated these problems exponentially, according to a new survey from the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS ).

Public health measures such as social distancing rules and downsizing of pickups have made it difficult for businesses that depend on high volumes to rent their homes.

“When asked if Canadians are avoiding downtown areas since COVID-19, about 60 percent say they have,” says study conducted in partnership with Léger between September 18 and 20 .

The study interviewed 1,538 urban Canadian residents and 1,001 urban US residents online.

The overwhelming majority of residents who responded to the survey (58.4 percent) said they avoided going from downtown to downtown.

Edmontonians (75.5%) led the way in saying they avoided downtown, followed by Vancouverites (70%), Ottowans (66%) and Torontonians (65%).

Fifty-nine percent of urban Montrealers said they did not head downtown.

The City of Montreal reported earlier in September that the city had seen a 90% decrease in the number of people traveling downtown to work.

According to the ACS survey, American city dwellers responded similarly, with 57% saying they avoided going downtown.

Even among 25- to 34-year-olds, more than half (55.3%) reported avoiding the city center.

Women (at 64.2%) are more likely to avoid the city center than men (58.2%).

More than three-quarters (80.2%) of respondents who said they avoid going downtown are also “very afraid” of contracting COVID-19, while 67% are a little afraid.

ACS owner Jack Jedwab said the pandemic has accelerated the trend of urban decay that precedes the pandemic, and cities will need to speed up plans to rejuvenate their city centers.

“It doesn’t look good for downtown areas,” said Jedwab, who was one of those who closed his downtown office. “I think what COVID rushed is to rethink downtown. There will be a serious overhaul of downtown areas.


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