Comment 35964

By jason (registered) | Posted December 03, 2009 at 08:38:06

It's important to remember the historic context of downtown fading away.

I've chatted with former downtown shop owners who noticed an immediate drop in income and people coming into their stores after the downtown streets were converted to one-way.

One fella mentioned to me that it took him years to put the two together because the decline was so gradual. Yet even in the first year of high speed one-ways, he said it was clear that the pedestrian realm had been compromised and folks were more comfortable zipping through on their cars instead of strolling downtown.

It took many years, decades in fact, for downtown to deteriorate. When things started getting noticeable, many downtown shopkeepers blamed Jackson Square which was booming.
But having a larger view of history now, those shopowners realize that it was the damaged public realm and the conversion of downtowns main streets from a place that was enjoyable and comfortable to a place that was only for cars. The rather quick demise of Jackson Square further validates this point - less people downtown= bad news whether your shop is on the street or in the mall.

More people downtown will = more shops on the street and in the mall.
That's where two-way conversion and LRT come into play. Both are extremely huge changes that will help to make downtown more people friendly again, along with streetscape projects like York Blvd and Hess Village and better pedestrian spaces like the forecourt of the new farmers market and Gore Park.

There is no magic bullet, rather the cumulative effects of many good changes, big and small.

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