Post on : November 6, 2023

Today, business leaders from cities across the country
convened on Parliament Hill, stressing the need for urgent measures to rejuvenate Canada’s
downtowns and main streets faced with rising vacancy rates and the burden of businesses
striving to clear their CEBA loans.

The International Downtown Association Canada (IDA Canada), a national coalition, supports
organizations representing and serving business districts nationwide. Its members have
expressed significant concern about the vacancy rates in Canada’s leading cities, with notable
downtown street-front vacancies recorded as follows: Edmonton at 33%, Halifax at 13%,
Montréal at 11%, Toronto at 14%, Victoria at approximately 12%, and Winnipeg slightly above

Post-COVID-19 effects, compounded with rising costs, labour shortages, and operational
barriers that include anti-social behaviours in public spaces, have harshly affected Canada’s
downtown and main street businesses. IDA Canada emphasizes that addressing these hurdles
is essential not only for economic rejuvenation but also for ensuring community prosperity.

Further, IDA Canada is advocating for an extension to the CEBA loan repayment timeline,
aiming to offer significant financial reprieve to beleaguered small businesses.

“While government efforts have certainly aided struggling businesses, the brief 18-day
extension for federal payments falls short of what’s needed,” said Kate Fenske, Chair of IDA
Canada. “Many businesses are teetering on the edge. The very core of our downtowns and
main streets—our central business districts—are feeling the strain. The moment calls for
collaborative and holistic strategies.”

Additionally, IDA Canada is calling for the government to strengthen Canada’s main street and
downtown businesses by directing federal business funding effectively through Regional
Economic Development Agencies, guaranteeing that these funds reach local main street and
downtown businesses via their respective improvement associations. “This isn’t solely about
lengthening loan repayments, vital as that is. We’re looking at addressing systemic issues
impacting every riding from coast to coast. Downtowns and main streets are the economic
lifeblood of our communities, and relief, restructuring, and visionary leaders are needed to
ensure their prosperity.”

IDA Canada is keen on fostering a collaborative relationship with the government to tackle the
highlighted challenges. Recognizing those who have already taken steps in this direction is
essential, and the coalition is prepared to contribute even more to these efforts. By joining
forces, IDA Canada is looking to not only address immediate concerns but also to lay a
foundation for the lasting prosperity of business districts across the nation.

The Downtown St. John’s Business Commission is a member of IDA Canada. IDA Canada is a national coalition that works on behalf of more than 500 Business Improvement Associations. Together, they represent over 250,000 business and property owners in districts that account for billions of dollars in assessments and economic activity. Crucially, they represent commercial neighbourhoods nationwide that have historically employed
millions and remain the foundational pillars of our communities—economically, socially, and culturally.

For more information on IDA Canada please visit: