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Jan 09, 2023

Workplace mobility hit hard in big cities’ downtowns

In 2023 I’ll be watching geographic mobility trends, as Canada’s workforce continues to adjust to a new equilibrium of hybrid and remote work, in what’s proving to be the biggest labour market adjustment of our lifetimes.

The BDL recently released a report and interactive dashboard which shows that workplace mobility has taken a significant hit in the downtowns of the largest cities, such as Ottawa-Gatineau, Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary.

There’s clear evidence of a “donut effect”, whereby traffic to the downtown cores of Canada’s biggest cities hollowed out, while the action shifted to outlying, mid-sized commuter cities (such as Barrie, Brampton, Brantford, Chilliwack and Trois-Rivières) as knowledge workers embraced remote work and cheaper housing. Thankfully, we’ve seen progress over the course of 2022 with downtown “ghost towns” slowly coming back to life with increasing vibrancy. How much more recovery will we see in 2023, and what will be the implications for local economies and businesses across Canada?

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