Downtown Edmonton is safer, younger and more sophisticated compared to seven years ago, a new report prepared for the Downtown Business Association finds.
People living and working downtown feel more at ease walking in the evening, the report shows. In a 2010 survey, 39 per cent of respondents said they felt safe in the core at night. That went up to 63 per cent in 2017.
The report, Mapping Growth: A Comparative Look at Downtown’s Transformation (2010-2017) was prepared by University of Alberta graduate student Nupur Thakor. Based on responses by 1,500 residents and workers in an online survey, it was made public Wednesday.
Ian O’Donnell, the business association’s executive director, said a variety of changes have driven the increased sense of security.
“Having MacEwan [University] and NorQuest [College] expanding and having more students downtown, having more restaurants open — you just have a better feeling … when you see more people downtown and more activity,” O’Donnell said.
Rogers Place and its consistent line-up of concerts and hockey games are drawing the crowds.
O’Donnell said there’s been a “significant influx” in people aged 25 to 35 choosing to live and work downtown.
“That’s probably the fastest growing demographic that we’ve seen,” he noted. “The lifestyle and urban renewal that we’re seeing really is catering to a younger demographic,” O’Donnell said.
More police foot patrols have added to the sense of security, he said.
The report covers two areas: how people perceive the downtown area and the investments made in the core since 2010.
It shows that people choose to live downtown for its walkability, lifestyle and proximity to work.
Spruced up public spaces
In the past decade, more apartments and condominiums have gone up and older buildings have had upgrades, O’Donnell noted.
More than 1,800 residential units are under construction and another 6,000 to 7,000 units are being planned.