Edmonton sees more people return to downtown core than any other North American city, new data shows
New data shows Edmonton is the most successful city in North America in attracting visitors back to its downtown core.
According to Avison Young, when downtown visitor numbers are compared from Labour Day this year to March 2, 2020 — the week preceding COVID-19 restrictions —- Edmonton had the greatest positive change in visitor volumes in North America.
At an increase of 151.1 per cent, Edmonton took the first spot, with Calgary and San Diego, both garnering 123.3 per cent, rounding off the top three.
When compared to Labour Day 2020, Edmonton's downtown foot traffic was within the top 12 of the 51 markets analyzed by Avison Young.
Edmonton's visitor volume saw a 205.7 per cent increase as of the week of Sept. 19, 2022, to the week of Sept. 7, 2020 — the third-largest surge in Canada, with Ottawa and Toronto taking the top spots, respectively.
The percentages represent a vitality index, which Avison Young calculates using anonymized cell phone location data to extrapolate total foot traffic in cities.
'A CENTRAL SOCIAL DISTRICT'
The global commercial real estate company says cities with a 'social downtown' are more likely to recover than those with a 'working downtown.'
"We have a central social district," says Cory Wosnack, Avison Young managing director in Edmonton.
- A work in progress: City Centre Mall to undergo redevelopment project
- Stantec Tower condos turned to rentals amid 'shifting demands': ICE District
The Ice District plaza on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022 (CTV News Edmonton/Marek Tkach).
For Wosnack, Rogers Place and the surrounding Ice District form a "difference maker" to encourage Edmontonians to attend entertainment events, from hockey games to concerts.
Nightclubs, the local dining scene and other unique retailers then support that, Wosnack added.
Wosnack told CTV News Edmonton that three major factors are pushing downtown foot traffic: children returning to in-person schooling, offices recalling workers to either hybrid or full in-person working arrangements, and post-secondary students returning to class.
That last factor has had the largest effect on Edmonton, Wosnack says, since more than 40,000 students attend a post-secondary institution in the downtown area alone.
"That changed the experience significantly for downtown. It created more vibrant neighbourhoods, with restaurants, coffee shops and bars being busier than before," he said.
Students returning to class represented a 213.8 per cent increase in visitor volume to downtown Edmonton from March 2020, the vitality index says.
The other top five property types that helped drive increasing foot traffic were hospitality, recreation, and tourism sites, along with retail, healthcare, and transit riders.
- Oilers owner seeking rezoning for Village at Ice District north of Rogers Place
- 'Epicentre of energy': Ice District plaza ready to host major events, playoff parties
'THE COOLEST SPOT IN ALL OF EDMONTON'
In the week preceding and following Labour Day this year, Edmonton hosted a number of entertainment events downtown that helped draw large crowds, including The Eagles concert, the Mural Massive Festival, and the TG Ice Fridays street festival.
That strong success of Rogers Place becoming a downtown entertainment anchor has led the company behind The Canadian Brewhouse to double down on creating a new five-floor restaurant, bar and fun destination.
Jim Martyn, a spokesperson for the business, says Ice District will soon feature The Canadian Icehouse and The Banquet Bar.
Steps away from Rogers Place, Martyn said the pair of eateries will feature unique features, like a sub-zero vodka tasting room, dance floor, bowling lanes, table tennis, a Price is Right wheel for giveaways and new menus.
A sneak preview into the sub-zero vodka tasting room that will be opening as part of The Canadian Icehouse as part of Ice District (CTV News Edmonton/Darcy Seaton).
"We are so incredibly grateful and fortunate to have the opportunity to open up in what is going to be the coolest spot in all of Edmonton, in the Ice District here," he said.
Next summer, the Icehouse plans to expand its patio to become the largest rooftop patio in the country.
"(We want) to offer something to anybody who comes down to Ice District," Martyn added. "People know who The Canadian Brewhouse is. I think they'll be amazed when they come to the Icehouse and see that it's not The Canadian Brewhouse."
The Price is Right inspired prize wheel at The Banquet in Ice District (CTV News Edmonton/Darcy Seaton).
'BRING THE HEALTH AND PERSONALITY BACK'
Jeffrey Sundquist, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce CEO, told CTV News Edmonton that the new downtown arena has helped make downtown the city's premier entertainment destination.
"There's no question. You can't argue that the Ice District and that development and ambition has really re-energized the central Edmonton area," Sunquist said.
"And in fact, it reinvigorated the entire region," Sundquist added.
While the increasing foot traffic and appetite for some downtown business expansion, Sundquist said recovery for the central core still requires improvements to help promote safety and cleanliness.
- Alberta unveils $187M plan to address addiction and homelessness
- Should Edmonton appoint a 'night mayor?' Sohi and council are considering it
- 'We see the situation getting worse': Advocacy group begins head count of homeless people in Edmonton
"We've got to ensure that we've got a clean and vibrant and safe downtown," Sundquist added. "And also ensure our transit is safe so that people can get to work comfortably and affordably."
He hopes all orders of government will collaborate with business leaders to help ensure downtown remains an attractive place for Edmontonians and visitors to enjoy.
"There's lots of opportunity for us to collaborate and work together to bring the health and personality back to the Edmonton core."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Marek Tkach
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Starting on Thursday, eligible Canadians can apply through the Canada Revenue Agency to receive funding as part of the first ever federal dental-care program, and as of Dec. 12 applications will open for low-income renters looking to access the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit.
A 101-year-old message has been discovered by workers removing the base of a former statue in front of the Manitoba legislature.
Police across the country are seeing a rise in criminals preying on fears of the elderly with what's known as grandparent scams.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that while he's 'not looking for a fight' with Alberta, the federal government is not taking anything off the table when it comes to how it may respond to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith's new 'sovereignty act.'
Oklahoma musician Jake Flint died unexpectedly over the weekend, hours after getting married, his publicist says. He was 37.
A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after jurors said they were hopelessly deadlocked at the trial of "That '70s Show" actor Danny Masterson, who was charged with three rapes.
A new survey reveals that Canadians make an average of 1.7 resolutions each year, but 68.6 per cent fail to stick with their resolutions after spending hundreds of dollars on their goals.
Christine McVie, the British-born Fleetwood Mac vocalist, songwriter and keyboard player whose cool, soulful contralto helped define such classics as 'You Make Loving Fun,' 'Everywhere' and 'Don't Stop,' died Wednesday at age 79.
New research suggests eating grapes might help protect against skin damage caused by UV light, including sunburns and skin cancer.
Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek says she wishes more thought would've went into Danielle Smith's first move as premier.
A decrease in temperatures is likely leading to an increase in utility and heating bills as Calgarians crank up their thermostats in preparation for another cold snap.
Calgary police were on the run Wednesday, trying to catch a car thief who stole – and then ditched – vehicle after vehicle.
A judge has cleared the way for a dog that fatally attacked another dog in Saskatoon to be killed.
Saskatoon police are requesting the public's help in finding a woman who was last seen in late October.
Krysta Arsenault has been a patient at Broadway Family Physicians since it’s been open but walked out the doors for the last time on Wednesday.
The Saskatchewan NDP called on the provincial government to act on surgical and diagnostic wait times while highlighting one of the thousands of people affected by the issue.
With funding from the federal government, the hours of operation for Awasiw – The Warming Place in Regina will be extended overnight beginning on Dec. 1.
A new homeless shelter in Yorkton has shown the need for more warm-up locations in the city, along with the possible implementation of a cold weather strategy.
A retired RCMP officer who gathered information about “serious allegations” regarding another police force in 2020 has harsh words for the failure of Nova Scotia’s police watchdog to officially investigate.
A crowd of around 150 people gathered at St. George's Anglican Church Wednesday to remember Luke Landry. The 35-year-old died last Monday inside a public washroom next to Moncton City Hall.
New Statistics Canada numbers show a sharp decline in the amount of land being used for farming, especially in the Maritimes.
Here's what you need to know about Ontario's 2022 annual auditor general report.
A winter weather travel advisory has been issued for parts of the Greater Toronto Area, warning of reduced visibility due to heavy bursts of snow.
A massive Ontario-wide investigation into child exploitation has led to more than 100 people being charged, police announced on Wednesday.
The Quebec government will spend the next four years trying to reverse what it says is the decline of French in Montreal and transform the province's economy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Premier Francois Legault said Wednesday. Legault delivered his inaugural speech — equivalent to a throne speech — to the 43rd session of the legislature, almost two months after his Coalition Avenir Quebec was re-elected with a large majority.
Strong, gusting winds knocked out power to at least 45,000 customers in southern Quebec Wednesday evening, according to Hydro-Quebec.
More than 300,000 Quebec children have the constitutional right to education in English, though only about three in four attend English schools, new Statistics Canada census data shows. Statistics Canada is collecting this data for the first time, giving Quebec's English education system a real picture of the situation.
LRT INQUIRY | 'Unconscionable,' 'egregious:' Scathing Ottawa LRT inquiry report slams senior city staff, RTG
The construction and maintenance of the Ottawa LRT project was plagued by persistent failures in leadership and saw 'egregious violations of the public trust,' a scathing new report has found.
CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at ten key takeaways from the Ottawa Light Rail Transit Public Inquiry final report released on Wednesday.
The conclusion of the Ottawa LRT inquiry report's executive summary stands out for its scathing criticism of senior city staff and Rideau Transit Group.
Police have charged 107 people after a massive month-long child exploitation investigation spanning the entire province.
The Region of Waterloo is considering closing the Highway 85 on and off ramps at Lancaster Street in Kitchener and asking for public feedback on the idea.
Waterloo regional police have released a video of an individual they want to speak to in connection to a suspicious fire in Woolwich Township.
The Moose River Attack minor hockey team has travelled by helicopter, train, car, canoe and snowmibile to get to games and practices.
Police have reopened Highway 17 in northern Ontario after a series of crashes, including one fatal, Tuesday night.
Alamos Gold says one person has died after being hit by a vehicle underground at the Young-Davidson mine Tuesday afternoon. It is the second mining fatality in northern Ontario this month.
Two Manitobans face a number of assault charges after a fight broke out at a Winnipeg Jets game Tuesday night.
A 101-year-old message has been discovered by workers removing the base of a former statue in front of the Manitoba legislature.
The City of Winnipeg could be eyeing a new way to get more people living downtown – by filling the spaces left vacant by office workers working at home.
Several groups of good Samaritans came to the aid of commuters during the harrowing snowstorm that rocked B.C.’s Lower Mainland Tuesday night.
The winter wallop that slammed into British Columbia’s south coast Tuesday hit right in the middle of the evening commute, creating a critical mass of gridlock that delayed plows and sanding trucks.
Frigid temperatures are in the forecast for the Lower Mainland Wednesday night, bringing with them the risk that melted snow will turn to ice and create hazardous conditions on the region's roads.
Tow operators were in clean-up mode on Wednesday, after a night of desperation on the Malahat highway prompted people to abandon their vehicles Tuesday.
British Columbia's police watchdog is investigating after a man suspected of committing an armed robbery near Duncan, B.C, was later found dead near Lake Cowichan, B.C.
Students and staff at a Victoria-area high school were sent home early Wednesday after someone threatened a shooting at the school. The Oak Bay Police Department says it was contacted by Oak Bay High School administrators around 10:30 a.m. after the threat was found written on a stall door in a girls' washroom.