I live in the center of the city. In theory municipal policy shouts “HOORAY DOWNTOWN” because it’s good PR for tourism and business to have vibrancy in a central district. I’ve become actively involved in advocacy for those of us who live downtown, because policy and initiatives tend to have narrow vision of improving downtown for the white collar working day and not necessarily the other hours when people (surprisingly enough) continue to live.
But hold on! 10-ish years ago we built a new arena downtown! Most major concerts are held there! And now we have an NHL team! People will be downtown in the evening!
It’s good for restaurants and owners of parking lots, but again it doesn’t provide incentive for grocery stores to establish and extend their hours of operation. It helps with the bus schedule, but you shouldn’t need to bus from one location downtown to another unless you have mobility concerns or are carrying a very heavy object. That’s the purpose of having a compact city center, and in an ever-urbanizing world residency should grow up rather than out, with downtown areas ideal for doing that.
But developments still favour the idea of bringing people into downtown during the evenings but leaving by the end of the night. The buzzword is the SHED – the Sports, Hospitality, and Entertainment District, which is focused on the cross-street of my apartment building. With my window looking out back I can literally see the shining lights of this trend in development. The parking lots I can see are packed with cars when the Jets are playing. I can hear people laughing and hollering when walking back to their vehicles if the team won, or they went to a bar for a bachelorette party, or the concert they went to got them in the party spirit. It’s great to see extended hours of good times downtown. Visitors coming in for these events are certainly welcome, as I like background noise audible from my window. But as far as the basics go, a backyard SHED doesn’t improve my quality of living.
Anyway, I’m doing more than complaining about this, through more means than just an unknown blog, so don’t read this as an entitled youth’s whine, or an old man’s “AND ANOTHER THING…” rant. City life is improved by creating this festive atmosphere, but there’s a long way to go if we want to reach world class standards. If we keep people downtown 24 hours a day simply by enticing them to live here, we may not reach levels of New York, the City that Never Sleeps, or Paris, the City of Lights, but we can make impressive improvements and become Winnipeg, the City that Parties at -40 degrees. Wouldn’t that be a proud, distinguishing title?