A big part of our data collection for the Re-Imagine Downtown Vancouver initiative is our online survey. While the survey will remain open until the end of September, we’ve heard a lot of interest from people interested in seeing some of the emerging trends. Based on the first 425 responses received through the end of July, here are some trends that have emerged from the survey. Please not that these are only high level trends and observations than may change based on more in-depth analysis and further survey results.
Which of the following best describes what activities you do in Downtown Vancouver?
There were 4 activities that topped the list, mostly related to entertainment of some kind:
- Pubs, restaurants, movies, etc.
- Attending events
- Meet friends (assuming to do any of the above)
What have your experiences in Downtown Vancouver been like?
There is little doubt that people are having a positive experience when they are in downtown Vancouver (84%), with more than one-third expressing strong views in this regard.
“Vancouver is a global go-to destination which is economically vibrant, livable, and environmentally sustainable.”
There is a general consensus that Vancouver has a reputation as a global city. However, the sentiment is more lukewarm (51%) than outright enthusiastic (19%).
How would you rate Downtown Vancouver for each of the following…
Overall, downtown Vancouver is perceived positively across the full range of measures, but it is particularly well-regarded as a safe city with a great diversity of food offerings, and outdoor festivals/event, and where it’s easy to get around from one place to another. A majority also see positive things from downtown Vancouver for overall livability, its arts, culture, and entertainment, and for the ease with which one can get in and out of the city core. Close to half (49%) also believe it has an “engaged and active business community.”
However, most ratings are “good” or “fair” rather than “excellent”, indicating, again, that, while the overall portrait is positive, people are not showering downtown Vancouver with overwhelming praise. This indicates there’s significant upside for enhancing aspects of the downtown Vancouver experience. In three cases, “support for marginalized”, “heritage” and “sense of community”, the ratings are distinctly more negative.
If you were given $1 million to invest in things you think would improve the overall experience of being in the city centre, what percentage of the $1 million would you spend on each of the following…
There are three things that we have observed with the response to this question so far:
- First, there is no single stand alone “winner” for the distribution of spending to improve the downtown Vancouver experience. The difference between the top 5 items is a scant 5 % points, suggesting respondents really want it all.
- Second, it is also possible that some people found this exercise difficult to do. Welcome to the difficulties of the budgeting process!
- Third, notwithstanding the first two points, if we accept the top 3 items as somewhat above the others then improving the downtown Vancouver experience is about building a greater variety of ways to get around, creating open spaces to create opportunities for public interaction, and supporting arts and cultural events.
Please choose the top words or phrases you would use to describe what you want Downtown Vancouver to be like by 2040.
From the responses to date, we have identified three tiers of “images” for downtown Vancouver in 2040 that might make up a new downtown Vancouver vision.
- First, with 40% -50%of respondent selecting a items from the first tier, the predominant vision portrays downtown Vancouver as a livable and green city, with great public spaces, and where it’s easy for pedestrians to get around.
- Second, The underlying thrust of the second tier of items is what can be described as a “feel good” image of downtown Vancouver in 2040. It’s a happy city that is safe and creative (notably unique architecture); there’s community, neighbourhoods, and opportunities to work, which means people can live and work in a comfortable atmosphere.
- Third, but less important, is the image of downtown Vancouver as a city “on the move.” Innovative, entertainment hub, engaged public, food mecca, world-class, smart, are all part of this image, but these are not as prominent or desired ways people seek to envision downtown Vancouver in the future. While further analysis needs to be done, one question that emerges from the early response is if these latter characteristics are perceived complement to those in the first two tiers, or are seen as in conflict with them.
How would you like to get around in Downtown Vancouver in 2040?
With the top 5 choices to date ALL being pedestrian related, there appears to be clear support for a downtown Vancouver that is geared towards the pedestrian, and the building of infrastructure/services to facilitate this (greenways, pedestrian plazas, free transit zones), and to help people get around downtown.
The emerging theme for fun and entertainment is how to use public space in downtown Vancouver to facilitate more opportunities for fun and entertainment. Whether it’s back alleys or rooftop patios, or established public locations, people see opportunities for a more active downtown Vancouver through more “access points” made available to the public.
The stand-out transformation of public space for fun and entertainment is the use of back alleys, changing them from their current state of garbage bins and business loading zones to places with vibrant “action” that people can use. It’s also evident from these preliminary findings that people want regular festivals, special events, and celebrations in downtown Vancouver, which requires dedicated space.
What kind of community experience would you like to have in Downtown Vancouver in 2040?
From the preliminary survey results, the community experience in the downtown Vancouver of 2040 is all about providing people opportunities to “connect”, access points through public spaces (e.g. central plazas, open spaces, in buildings, etc.). This makes sense given the choice of characteristics offered respondents. Not the less the top item – gathering or socializing more in open spaces “not tied to commercial enterprise” – reflects perhaps a desire to provide open (i.e. free) access for making connections.
How would you like to see work and business in Downtown Vancouver in 2040?
The vision respondents have for work and business in downtown Vancouver in 2040 is one of opportunities for diverse jobs, which includes the type of work environments (e.g. collaborative, connected lifestyle, 24/7). Corporate social responsibility and pride of ownership among businesses is among the top characteristics people see for downtown Vancouver. This indicates some sense of the importance people place on how they want businesses to operate. While it is a bit of a “motherhood” selection, the “pride of ownership” aspect here is perhaps a new way of thinking about businesses role, something that we recommend looking at further.
How would you like Downtown Vancouver to look and feel in 2040?
The look and feel for downtown Vancouver in 2040 seems to correspond to how people view the city core for fun and entertainment and for their community experience. The emerging vision is about transforming public spaces (notably back alleys), and keeping the “openness” feel about the city’s core by not blocking sunlight or the mountains (presumably by limiting the height of buildings and maintaining viewscapes).
Interestingly, there’s a relatively high percentage of respondents who want to see some preservation of heritage facades on buildings, though with renewing interiors, but a desire for “more exciting architecture.” There is a distinctive “green” tinge to the vision as well, with using alternative energies on rooftops, green roofs, and sustainable buildings.
In 2040, do you want Downtown Vancouver to be…?
This set of questions reveals an interesting image of downtown Vancouver when people are forced to choose between competing visions. Based on responses to date, there’s little doubt the vision is for downtown Vancouver to be more transit-oriented rather than vehicle oriented, which is consistent with some of the other results we’ve already seen (i.e. more pedestrian friendly, etc.). There is also a clear sign that people want downtown Vancouver to be more of a neighbourhood for people of all ages rather than limiting it to a younger aged population. This may be consistent with what we’ve already seen above in the responses to how people want to experience community in downtown Vancouver.
The preferences are a bit more nuanced when it comes to the trade-off between wanting downtown Vancouver to be more of a “community to live in” (56%) vs. a place to come to work or for entertainment (44%). Further, there’s a clear preference for downtown Vancouver to be more of an entertainment hub rather than more of an engaged and active business community. This seems to contradict the preference for community over a place to come and work or for entertainment, so we will being doing some further analysis to see how choices in both of these two trade-offs match up.
Once again, it is important to note that these trends are based on preliminary analysis on data received as of the end of July. They are subject to change as more results come in, and with more in-depth analysis.
If you haven’t taken the survey yet, please visit our survey page! The survey will be open until September 30, 2015.