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People, Places and

Inspiring Things

20|20 VISION







Budweiser Gardens (John Labatt Centre)

Covent Garden Market

Central Library relocation Millennium Plan

London Convention Centre Forks of the Thames revitalization MainStreet Program


Memorial Cup




Downtown Fanshawe Campus (Phase 1) Residential Development Boom (Renaissance, Harriston, City Place etc.)

London LAWN Public Wifi Network (2011 Pilot)


Our Move Forward (Downtown Master Plan 2.0)

World Figure Skating Championships Fanshawe’s Downtown Campus (Kingsmill’s Strategic Investment) BIA Boundary expansion Memorial Cup 3


Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created

by everybody. Jane Jacobs | The Death and Life of Great American Cities




A strong local economy requires a first-class urban core. Full stop. Downtowns are a fundamental incubator of creativity and the engine of modern economies. Thirty years ago, many Canadian cities forgot this, instead investing in sprawl and stalling the connection of people to this important place. London was among these communities. Our path to recovery and toward a best-in-class downtown began nearly two decades ago, and continues strong today.


“Downtown is London’s cultural heart, economic centre and the original neighbourhood. It must be a people place and investment needs to encourage a vibrant public realm. The Millennium Plan generated

$100 million investment and the success has been tremendous.” OUR MOVE FORWARD LONDON’S DOWNTOWN MASTER PLAN (2015)


Progress to Build On

Imagine a savings account where you get $5 back for every one dollar deposited. That’s the promise of a thriving core. Today, London’s downtown contributes 5% to the tax base but makes up less than 1% of land. It equals $1 billion in taxable assessment, which is up 61% in the past decade. And, it is growing an average of 6% year after year. That includes....

World-Class Local and International Experiences • Attraction of international events like 2013 World Figure Skating Championships, which generated more than $30 million in economic activity for London with over 62,000 tickets sold and almost 10,000 visitors •


Budweiser Gardens ranked #1 Top Stop of the Decade in Canada, #2 in North America and #3 in the world by Venues Today London Knights sold out 95% of their games over the past decade, bringing over 9,000 Londoners and out-of-town visitors to the downtown for each game

Economic Growth & Investment • $3 private investment for each $1 of public investment since 2001 • • • •

More than 1,000 building permits issued since 2001 Average of 11 new businesses downtown annually since 2006 $170 Million private sector investment in residential developments $1.7 million invested in incentive programs by the City over the past 5 years, only $29,000 of which were grants and majority in repayable loans Over $1 Million in grants invested by MainStreet London to improve downtown facades, improving store- and office-fronts and the overall streetscape Over $200,000 in tenant improvement loans to new or expanding businesses

Now just imagine what we can do next...

Feet on the Street • 37% population increase since 1996 (compared to 8% city­wide) • •

• • •

Between 25­-30,000 weekly visits to Covent Garden Market 100,000 monthly visits to the Central Library; And over 1.5 million items borrowed and over 3,000 programs run annually 750,000 annual attendance at Budweiser Gardens 1,600 students studying in London’s downtown Over a million visits downtown for festivals and events 9

Designing cities for people:

the art and science of  placemaking

Recognizing our success to date, London’s downtown still has significant opportunity to create a consistent and inspiring connection between its spaces and its people.

From 1959 on, urban matriarch, Jane Jacobs, advocated for more vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods and public spaces. Her thentransformative notion of designing


neighbourhoods, in particular urban centres, for more than cars and shopping centres, is now at the heart of downtown revitalization movements around the globe.

PUTTING THE PEOPLE IN PLACE Of course, London’s downtown is a place, a collection of places in fact; and of course it has a multitude of spaces. But what connects these individual assets and experiences?

“Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being.” WIKIPEDIA

The people who animate them. As performers and participants. As critics and champions and advocates. As citizens. Placemaking is the intentional focus on the creation of spaces and experiences that are unique, welcoming, beautiful and liveable. It is the knowledge that a downtown is more than individual features, planned in isolation. It is the belief in the power of creating something bigger that connects people to one another and to a stronger sense of community.

Placemaking is our clear and present opportunity to capitalize on the good work already done in London’s downtown and to build the dynamic city we not only need, but Londoners deserve. Planned correctly, our downtown can become a home for most of the places people want to be when they’re not working or sleeping. 11


“the Third Place”

Space describes physical land. Place equals an emotional attachment to the landscape and its people. Put simply, “third places” are where we spend our time when we’re not at home or work. Historically, these might have been a local tavern, a community centre, or general store, but today, a well defined and engaging downtown is be home to a multitude of modern “third places”. Defining our Opportunity The following strategy outlines Downtown London’s role in carrying this work forward with a focus on creating an energized and impressive home for “third places”. To do so, it details the values, strategies and objectives that will guide the organization in fulfilling our commitments to members and to the community at large. It does not change or pre-empt any of the important strategies of 12

the Downtown Master Plan, or any other infrastructure investments, rather defines how Downtown London will support and enhance this work, and how we will measure our progress toward creating this important home for “third places” in our community. It’s time to put people at the centre of the conversation about downtown’s next evolution. This plan does that.

THE COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF OUTSTANDING THIRD PLACES Neutral ground With no obligation to be there or to stay (except that you want to!) A levelling place Where social status doesn’t matter Lively interaction Where connections and relationships are the order of the day Accessible and accommodating Where everyone’s needs are fulfilled Features regulars Who give the place its flavour and tone and welcome newcomers Holds a low profile Not grandiose or exclusive, always homey and accepting Playful mood Where witty conversation and banter are encouraged and valued A home away from home Encourage rootedness and regeneration with a sense of warmth, belonging and ownership

*Summary of sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s theory on the third place* Adapted from:


How We Got from

First to Third

Research Highlights & Top Trends In January 2016, the Board of Directors of Downtown London (London Downtown Business Association and MainStreet London) initiated a

project to develop a plan rooted in vision and strategy; a plan to guide our role in the next evolution of London’s downtown. The intention was a plan to advance both the interests of our members, and the needs and hopes of Londoners and community stakeholders who care about our core. The project was designed to be a conversation that allowed our members, our partners and our customers and supporters to share their insights, dreams and frustrations. This 20|20 Plan


reflects the insights and collective vision of this important range of stakeholders. A rapid engagement process generated feedback from more than 500 stakeholders through a variety of methods, including an online survey, telephone interviews and focus groups. A detailed review of best practices was also conducted. Participants in this process were reflective of the diversity of Londoners who are passionate about our downtown core and the work of Downtown London, and included Downtown London businesses, board and committee members, and community partners.

What We Heard There is desire. There is opportunity. And most importantly, Londoners want to be inspired. They want a downtown they are proud of, that they see themselves reflected in and that they can experience, enjoy and champion. But collective aspiration and goodwill doesn’t mean it will be easy. There are diverse social issues we must confront. There are significant perception problems. There is a lack of understanding amongst many Londoners of what downtown is today and what it isn’t anymore. To harness our community’s aspirations and respond to these needs, our plan and our action must be both bold and nimble. It must be comprehensive and it must create action. The vision outlined in this plan is focused on potential and possibility but it will be built on our many positive attributes. From rich heritage and iconic landmarks, to the transformational opportunity of the river, we must build on our assets to create an inspiring place, in its truest

sense, to increase the diversity of people living, working and enjoying their free time in our downtown. In order to create this vibrant home for London’s “third places” we must first and foremost be the voice of the members who have invested their livelihood in our mainstreets. This means: • Supporting walkability and livability including clean and attractive spaces that can appeal to a diversity of people, offering a variety of experiences, retail opportunities, housing options and events; • Undertaking a comprehensive remarketing initiative to improve the understanding and perception of the core; • Advocating for bold investments that improve experiences, accessibility, and wow factor; • Tackling urgent social issues with the knowledge that homelessness, addiction and crime are real challenges faced by urban centres and that we can be part of bringing together partners to balance the many sides of this complex equation. 15

London’s Downtown:

A 20|20 Vision

The following vision is put forward based on consultation with our members, stakeholders, community partners and Londoners-at-large. London’s downtown, in 2020 and beyond, is a vibrant and enviable destination, embraced for the variety of exceptional experiences from high-end retail and technology start-ups, to grassroots artisans and craftspeople, to avant garde dining and mixed-use developments attracting active seniors and single professionals alike. It is buzzing with youthful energy. College students enjoy their first taste of urban life alongside young digital and creative professionals attracted to our tech clusters from all over the globe. Employees and 16

owners of a diversity of businesses such as small shops, government offices, law firms, financial and other professional services choose to make downtown their work place. It is filled with Londoners who have chosen to make it their home, in new or redeveloped properties that meet a diversity of income and amenities needs. It is home to a panorama of “third places”, from the river walk and pocket parks, to neighbourhood pubs and patios.

It is a centre of regional tourism, a unique shopping and dining destination, and a preferred host to national and international events. It has transformed from aspirations of family-friendliness to being familyembracing in infrastructure and program investments. Above all else, it is highly walkable. Londoners of all ages, on foot, by bicycle, stroller and wheelchair, move freely on flexible streets and via modern transit options. And Dundas Place connects it all, from riverfront to convention and hotel spaces, to dining, entertainment and shopping, in a 24/7 urban experience that is inviting, clean and safe for everyone who chooses it. And there are many who do.

More feet on the street mean more people in seats, greater depth in tills, and more Londoners planning their own move to become residents of this original neighbourhood. A constant sense of pride, culture and excitement means we have truly become a home to London’s most important third places - that fulfill a need, define a part of who we are and are always there for us. Our sense of pride and community ownership in downtown is lost no more.

Our vision for London’s downtown is this shared community vision, and we hold it on behalf of Londoners. 17

A Note on

Who We Are Team Downtown

Downtown London is made up of two complementary organizations - the London Downtown Business Association (LDBA) and MainStreet London which are governed by two boards that share some common membership. LDBA exists to represent the interests of member businesses, ensure retention and maintain the public realm. MainStreet’s mandate is the overall improvement of the core, including recruitment and revitalization. For the purposes of this plan, the two entities are treated as one cohesive team, working for the enhancement and promotion of the core, to the benefit of the entire London community, including our local economy, culture and quality of life. In rare cases where mandates overlap or compete, this plan will be a valuable framework by which to make decisions, specifically using the collective vision, organizational mission and shared values endorsed by both Boards.


Our Role

and MISSION Catalyst, connector, champion

Downtown London is the catalyst and connector for a shared community vision of London’s downtown, on behalf of members, in partnership with the City of London, and in support of major economic development, cultural, educational, and private sector stakeholders. Our mission is to steward the levy paid by member businesses by leading and championing programs and investments that make London’s downtown a destination of choice and an economic centre that supports the entire community.


What We Believe To accomplish our mission and steward this shared vision, we hold the following values and associated behaviours as sacred

WE ARE... Entrepreneurial and FutureOriented: We make bold and ambitious plans that include calculated risks, allow for flexibility and nimbleness, and favour getting things done.


WE OPERATE IN... Continuous Collaboration & Empathetic Partnerships: We invest the time to understand complex issues and play the roles of partner and catalyst that our members and community need.


Stewards of Reputation: We consistently tell the downtown’s story to empower current champions and encourage new supporters to experience the core.

Unapologetic Advocacy: We support our members’ needs by being an informed and passionate voice on the diverse policies and issues impacting our core.

AND ABOVE ALL... Catalysts of Exceptional Experiences: We are committed to creating opportunities for our members and to developing pride of place through a thoughtful approach to placemaking, which includes outstanding events and a strategic mix of dining, retail, service, entertainment and residential opportunities.


Downtowns have integral, central roles in the life of the wider city. All across Canada they offer employment, important retail opportunities, and are receiving investment and renewed interest by younger generations to ‘live, work and play downtown’. A healthy downtown requires a multiplicity of strong, bold leaders collaborating for a shared vision. The Importance of Investing in Canadian Downtowns, Canadian Urban Institute


Putting our

Strategy into Practice

Goals and Objectives 2016-2020

Based on the collective vision we hold with our members and stakeholders, and the mission our organization has designed to fulfill this promise, we have defined the following four strategic priorities for the life of this plan: 1

(“Third�) Placemaking




Marketing and Engagement


Leading, Connecting and Catalyzing

Based on these priorities, the following goals and objectives provide the strategic roadmap to achieve our mission, which can inform leadership decision making, committee structure and work plans.1 1 Note: the following goals and objectives are intended to be stewarded and managed by staff, in collaboration with specified committees. It is the role of the board to set specific measurable targets for each year related to measurement of objectives, and the role of committees to report on them annually to the board and, via the annual report, to members and stakeholders.




To facilitate the conditions for Londoners from a diversity of life stages with a range of needs and desires to consistently choose downtown for “third place� experiences.

Strategy: A comprehensive and well-defined focus on placemaking, with a particular emphasis on the human/people aspect of creating place. Objectives: 1. Define a placemaking framework that provides clear guidance for direction and decision-making, including: a. Priority setting for investments, advocacy and marketingcommunications projects b. Improved image, use, access and sociability through the potential definition and branding of distinct areas c. Protection and promotion of flagship downtown spaces and assets


2. Create and support the creation of compelling experiences that increase exploration and enjoyment of downtown spaces and venues during the daytime, evening or nighttime hours. 3. Be a balanced voice in heritage conservation 4. Steward targeted recruitment and leasing to curate a dynamic mix of business, residential, entertainment and education opportunities, that: a. increase opportunities for existing businesses b. increase the inclusivity of the above for a variety of demographics

5. Support our members with programs, tools and continuous information/communications to assist them in their role in defining and building place 6. Set and maintain committees and ad hoc working groups to govern this work, including but not exclusive to: a. Targeted Recruitment Task Force 7. Measure and report annually on metrics specific to these objectives, including: a. A placemaking matrix developed and adopted by Downtown London, and listing of resulting decisions (and reviewed/ enhanced in subsequent years)

b. Key growth metrics, including vacancy rates, taxable assessment, market rates c. Number of experiences and events created and supported and how (time, expertise, sponsorship, advocacy) d. Consumer analytics data (foot traffic, generally and correlated to major events, experiences, investments) e. Programs, tools and other supports offered to members specific to placemaking 8. Review and enhance committee and working group terms of reference and membership each year. 25



To ensure a passionate and informed voice for downtown businesses within downtown placemaking initiatives and in community-wide decision making and investment discussions.

Strategy: Spearhead a consistent, passionate, and timely advocacy program, through policy and tool development and communication initiatives. Objectives: 1. Lead a loud but empathetic conversation around social issues in the core. 2. Create a shared understanding and steward cases for support specific to transformational economic and placemaking projects by informing, educating and championing downtown with key decision makers and influencers. 3. Facilitate new opportunities for a greater mix of residential developments.


4. Be an unceasing voice for the safety and cleanliness of the core. 5. Place a priority on modern transit and connectivity between large institutions and destinations. 6. Support our members with programs, tools and continuous information/ communications to assist them in their own understanding of community issues and their own informed advocacy.

7. Set and maintain committees and ad hoc working groups to govern this work, including but not exclusive to: a. Public Realm Committee 8. Measure and report annually on metrics specific to these objectives, including: a. Work, in quantifiable volume, by the Clean Team

b. Number of proactive advocacy programs per year and results c. Programs, tools and other supports offered to members specific to advocacy 9. Review and enhance committee and working group terms of reference and membership each year.




To shift the general public perception of London’s downtown and convert increasing numbers of champions for downtown as a destination.

Strategy: Undertake comprehensive strategic marketing efforts that encompass the continuum of awareness, education and action toward repositioning downtown. Objectives: 1. Create a new narrative that moves beyond the nostalgic perspectives and the negative perceptions attributed to downtown in the last century. 2. Undertake marketing initiatives that deliver a new narrative and create opportunities for engagement/recruitment of ‘feet on the street’. 3. Position, with marketing and experiences, the downtown as a four-season destination (beyond summer festivals) and residential option.


4. Continue investments in, and campaign to the City for, beautification initiatives. 5. Create and capitalize on opportunities to educate key stakeholders (e.g. City Councillors) on the value of downtown to our community’s livability and economic viability. 6. Support our members with programs, tools, strategies and campaigns to assist in their own destination marketing.

7. Set and maintain committees and ad hoc working groups to govern this work, including but not exclusive to: a. Marketing and Public Engagement Committee 8. Measure and report annually on metrics specific to these objectives, including: a. New narrative, key messages, and pitch created, approved by Board and shared with other stakeholders (and reviewed/ enhanced in subsequent years).

b. Marketing campaigns implemented per year. c. Relevant social media analytics and consumer analytics. d. New (non-summer) seasonal experiences/ initiatives implemented. e. Results and effect of sponsored events and festivals. 9. Review and enhance committee and working group terms of reference and membership each year.




To position Downtown London in a collaborative leadership and partnership role in London’s regional economic growth agenda.

Strategy: Be a key connector between partners and projects in the region – with a focus on tourism, culture and entertainment – to catalyze progressive policies, ensure bold investments, and support smart growth, which benefit our members. Objectives: 1. Strengthen the profile and composition of the Board of Directors, in order to increase and continuously enhance the image and influence of the organization. 2. Share strategies and best practices with like-organizations locally and regionally.


3. Support, with time, expertise and investment, the strategic initiatives of other local and regional stakeholders (including but not exclusive to: London Arts and Heritage Council, London Chamber of Commerce, London Convention Centre, London Economic Development Corporation, Old East Village BIA, Tourism London, Western Fair District and education partners like Fanshawe College).

4. Continue our role as a key partner of the City of London in strategic planning, stakeholder communication, change processes, and infrastructure investments. 5. Support our members through consistent and continual communications about strategies and opportunities specific to their business growth/development. 6. Set and maintain committees and ad hoc working groups to govern this work, including but not exclusive to:

7. Measure and report annually on metrics specific to these objectives, including: a. Partnerships established and supported. b. New and existing projects supported. 8. Review and enhance skill profile of Board of Directors including the terms of reference and membership each year.

a. Board of Directors and strategic task forces (timely, at board’s discretion) 31


Belongs to Everyone Our gratitude and thanks to our partners who contributed to this plan

Over 500 downtown members, community partners, downtown stakeholders and citizen champions contributed to the development of this plan with their dreams, insights and constructive critiques. That list includes representatives from a variety of community economic development, social and cultural partners, including: Budweiser Gardens, City of London, Covent Garden Market, London Arts Council, London Convention Centre, London Economic Development Corporation, London Knights, London Police Service, Museum London, Old East Village BIA, The Grand Theatre, Tourism London, Western Fair District.

Made with

in London, Canada. Updated, August 2016.

Profile for Downtown London

People, Places and Inspiring Things  

Downtown London Strategic Plan | 2016-2020

People, Places and Inspiring Things  

Downtown London Strategic Plan | 2016-2020


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