Usually I’m told “because downtown,” “there’s better restaurants,” and “better shopping” That’s debatable, but I’ll get back to that.
I’m told I should sell my car and move downtown. Well, my (luxury) car + insurance + rent is less than the equivalent rent downtown. If I sell my car, I then lose mobility. This is arguably a car centric city, and province, contrary to what The Coast wants to think. So if I move downtown, I have to sell my car, make up another $200 a month, for a smaller apartment and losing the ability to travel and visit family.
Not going to happen.
Even worse, I’m technically ‘middle class’ and can’t afford to shop downtown. I’ll go to Walmart, thanks. If I want fancy food I can go to dhaba in Bayers Lake and pay the same thing for more, better food since their rent is lower.
Not only that, I don’t pay the parking tax. But of course, I’m just lazy for not wanting to walk two blocks. If only I could ever find free parking within 10. Oh but I should pay for parking. Why? When there’s a free alternative, why should I pay for parking?
I’ve leased office space downtown. I worked downtown for several years… I noticed a marked decline in tenancy in those few years, I saw convenience stores closing because they had no customers. I saw the rents stay the same, or raise for the same 80 year old units crawling with mice, 25% vacancy rates, and borderline inhospitable heat in the summer. All the offices are owned by guys out of Ontario, they have no skin in the game. Supply and demand doesn’t even seem to apply. They’re happy to lose money hand over fist because lowering the rent would be crazy!
It’s caused massive outmigration to industrial parks. Hell, HRM’s own tax policy has driven people to industrial parks, they they own!
Back in the day, being ‘downtown’ and close to other businesses mattered. Now? No. Teleconferencing, remote work, email, technology, email…. You know; all those modern things that mean people can be anywhere and do the same or better work. The burbs are closer to highways, to the airport, etc. Many people even work from home!
Why commute downtown for the sake of downtown when the benefits aren’t easily measured, but the downsides (higher rent, longer commutes, more noise, etc.) are obvious.
The people that want to be downtown are there. Those who get something out of it are already there.
To get more people downtown you need to convince me, and the other 100k people that don’t work downtown, and don’t want to, that it’s worth putting up with the commute, and worth paying the extortionate rents, because ‘the restaurants and shopping are better.’
The only way that’s going to happen is rents dropping and a transit overhaul, both of which are pipe dreams.