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Downtown economic health

How do you measure the health of the downtown?


In 2017, the City of Guelph, the Downtown Advisory Committee and the Downtown Guelph Business Association asked the Guelph Lab to review how other cities measure the retail health of their downtowns.


Future City of Guelph policy decisions related to infrastructure, development, and parking in the downtown have been formally linked to key metrics, many of which are not currently well understood. For example, City Council intends to base decisions about different parking policies in the downtown on current and future economic impacts.


A graduate student reviewed “downtown health indicator systems” in Canada, the US and the UK. The research identified some key principles for developing a indicator system tailored to Guelph:


  • No one model works for every city. Guelph needed to develop its own. 

  • Weighting health indicators is important – some were more significant than others

  • Collaboration with downtown stakeholders to develop indicators that make sense for them was a must

  • Qualitative assessments needed to be included and not left out of the model 

Read a summary from the research here

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