March 19, 2019 7:57 am

London municipal report reflects positive downtown growth

Janette MacDonald stands in the Downtown London offices on King Street. The association's recent survey shows many business owners are skeptical of BRT.

Liny Lamberink/980 CFPL
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London’s downtown core is “growing in the right direction,” according to a recently-released report about its economic health and prosperity in 2016 and 2017.

The 2017 State of the Downtown report, which is released every two years, says the core’s workforce grew by 2,000 jobs, the retail vacancy dropped from 7.9 per cent to 7 per cent, and assessment growth hit $1.75 billion.

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“It’s encouraging to see London’s downtown growing in the right direction,” said Janette MacDonald, CEO and general manager of Downtown London.

“More residents, more businesses and more investment lead to good things for the entire city, not just the downtown.”

The document, which went before Monday evening’s planning and environment committee, doesn’t include metrics from hosting the 2019 Juno Awards this past weekend. But it does reflect on holding Country Music Week and the Canadian Country Music Awards in 2016, which had an $8.4-million impact on the economy.

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It also says music, entertainment and cultural events drew more than 3.2 million people downtown in 2017.

“The more we see the metrics every couple years, we start to see the ongoing, healthy growth of the downtown. And I can’t stress enough that a healthy downtown makes a healthy city,” said MacDonald.

The report comes at a good time for the Downtown London, a business development organization, with the organization’s annual budget request is going before Tuesday afternoon’s corporate services committee.

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