The resumption of activity is slow in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, according to a study | Coronavirus: Ontario

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Resumption of activity lagging in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, study finds | Coronavirus: Ontario

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More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto still hasn't regained half its activity level, study finds.

More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, Toronto still hasn't returned to half its level pre-pandemic activity, study finds.

A joint study by the University of Toronto and the University of California, Berkeley, titled Death of Downtown?, compared mobile device activity in 62 metropolises between March and May 2022, versus the same period in 2019.

Research found downtown Toronto was only back to 46% of its pre-pandemic activity level, about as much as Calgary , New Orleans and Oakland, California. The city of Toronto is therefore number 52 on the list.

For its part, Montreal ranks 55th; the level of mobile device activity was only 44% of its pre-pandemic level, according to the study.

Among Canadian cities, only the center -city of Vancouver ranks lower than Montreal: the west coast city ranks 57th out of 62 with an activity level of 43%.

Most Canadian cities have suffered a similar fate, all reaching 43% to 56% of pre-pandemic activity levels.

According to Karen Chapple, who is one of the co-authors of the study and who directs the School of Cities at the University of Toronto, Canada has been slower to recover from COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

People stopped going out during the first wave of the Omicron variant, which delayed the return to business, she explains.

The only Canadian exception is the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, which recovered 72% of its mobile business this year compared to 2019.

Halifax is the city that has returned closest to normal. We think it's because of all the new residents moving in. Many work from home but live downtown, notes Karen Chapple.

According to her, Toronto can be compared to New York City, which however rebounded much faster and regained 78% of its pre-pandemic activity this year.

Downtown Toronto has a lot of law firm and insurance company employees, who don't necessarily have to return to the office, Ms. Chapple said. New York has a much more diverse economy, and I think that's one of the biggest takeaways, she says.

Marcy Burchfield, vice president of the Toronto Region Board of Trade's Economic Blueprint Institute, agrees that restrictions in Toronto are partly to blame for the city's slow recovery.

< p class="e-p">It indicates that the trajectory of a city's recovery is directly linked to the length of shutdowns, and Toronto has seen some of the toughest restrictions in North America. North.

Burchfield, however, says the city saw a 30% growth in foot traffic in July, past the study period.

We find that the recovery is not stops accelerating; you can see the momentum in the streets and it will continue, she said.

For his part, Toronto Mayor John Tory believes that the slow recovery could ;explained by the late return to face-to-face work, especially in large downtown office towers.

According to him, the labor shortage could also have an impact. He says employees say they are very satisfied with working from the office three days a week, which will only increase in the fall.

John Tory explains that the future of the work will be a key point in his city's recovery plan after the pandemic.

We need to take a serious look at the future of work and ensure that our city center can adapt, he says.

The mayor also notes that the number of public transport users has returned to 60% of its pre-pandemic level and that the number of pedestrian traffic continues to increase, according to city traffic data.

Researcher Karen Chapple, for her part, is optimistic.

I think we're going to be able to get back to 120% of the activity level before the pandemic, she says.

With information from CBC

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