Saturday, December 7, 2013

Canadians want to live, work, and play near public transit

Building on my post yesterday about Ottawa's $72M investment in transit-oriented development, it's interesting to see that more and more Canadians are choosing proximity to transit--and especially rail-based transit--as a key factor in deciding where they'd like to live.

As documented in a Globe and Mail article, consultancy firm PwC (formerly PricewaterhouseCoopers) recently published a report entitled "Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2014." A partner at PwC told the Globe that more and more Canadians are seeing access to transit as a legitimate and foremost consideration when house-shopping:
"With challenging infrastructure in all major Canadian centres coupled with the urbanization trend, there will be a continued demand for retail, office and residential space in our urban centres where there is easy access to mass transit."
In fact, Ottawa's investment in transit and cycling infrastructure also falls in line with the lifestyle preferences of generation Y residents, according to the report:
"Gen Y takes transit, walks, and bikes. Of all the generations, generation Y is the most likely to use transit daily, or at least once per week."
Although Ottawa's decision to move towards rail-based high speed transit is overdue, the city's well-placed to take advantage of these demographics and lifestyle preferences. There's ample room for intensification within Ottawa's Greenbelt, including around the rail stations that will be found along the Confederation Line and, in the future, near the further-out stations along the Stage 2 phase of the light-rail system.

In an ideal world, these preferences will lead to a reinvigoration of those parts of downtown near the Central Business District, including Sparks Street Mall, which seem like dead zones outside of the business hours. Hopefully PWGSC and the NCC are able to recognize the opportunities presented by a more lively downtown and invest some resources to enable a transition towards multi-use development in the core.