MDB Insight Blog

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The Case For Walkability and Economic Growth

Pedestrian friendly, walkable neighbourhoods and cities are not only well planned, they help your community's economic growth. Walkable environments should be viewed as part of your town's infrastructure, adding value to your community. Walkability is associated with higher rents, attraction of new businesses, and there's evidence to show that it raises private property values significantly.

Neighbourhood Walkability Requirements

The benefits of walkability have been proven in other communities, including Toronto, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Brighton, U.K. However, there are specific requirements that your community needs for it to be economically viable:

  • An identifiable town centre/main street/public square (the main hub of the local economy).
  • Population density to support local businesses and public transit.
  • Available public space for walking-only pathways.
  • Pedestrian design (favouring pedestrian transport over automobile transport).

To see how your community currently stacks up against others, you can learn more about the Walk Score of your town. This tool will give you an overview of how easy it is for residents to conduct errands on foot, and how many local shops and restaurants are within walking distance.

If all the requirements above are met, and your current Walk Score is favourable, you can consider using more advanced tools to evaluate how to incorporate walkability strategically in your town. Tax surveys help you understand if residents are willing to pay to develop the walkable areas of your downtown core. A BR+E helps ascertain how businesses, and which businesses, will benefit from better walkability.

Determine the Public’s Opinion on Walkability

Will your residents support an investment in a walkability plan? Or pedestrian infrastructure? To truly determine what residents will pay for, a tax survey should be conducted. A walkability plan may be a great benefit to the local businesses, but residents have to be willing to foot the bill. The Tax Sensitivity CalculatorTM is an excellent tool to accurately identify the services that are a priority for residents.

Make the case that a walkable town centre can help boost local businesses and provide a vibrant community space for other cultural events, music festivals, or farmer’s markets. It will make your community stand out, attracting more visitors and residents.

Capitalize on Walkability for Economic Development

In order to help local businesses capitalize on a walkable community, consider helping business improvement associations (BIA) with their plans. Walkability can optimize economic development in your town. A Toronto study found that those who walked and biked in the area spent more per month at local businesses than those who drove in the area.

While advocating for walkability, Economic Development Officers can also identify the businesses that most need attention by using Triage BR+ETM. Those businesses most likely to benefit from assistance are readily identified, and you can focus on where it’s needed most.

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Make Your Community Stand Out...

...with the Get Your Community What It Needs Without Blowing Your Economic Development Budget, E-book.

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References:

https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/publications/Good-for-business.pdf

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