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Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1272; doi:10.3390/su9071272

Metrics of Urban Sustainability: A Case Study of Changing Downtowns in Thunder Bay, Canada

Department of Geography and the Environment, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, ON P7B 5E1, Canada
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Received: 18 April 2017 / Revised: 10 July 2017 / Accepted: 11 July 2017 / Published: 19 July 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Assessment of Land Use and Land Cover)
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Abstract

Thunder Bay, a medium-sized city in Northern Ontario, has a twin downtown core model, arising from the merging of two former cities in 1970. Its north core, designated as the City’s Entertainment District has received considerable investment, notably a major waterfront renewal project undertaken in 2009 as part of an overall strategy towards downtown revitalization. Greater diversity of commercial functions and increasing residential capacity in downtowns are considered positive steps towards sustainable urban development. It is hoped the leadership taken by the City in its downtown capital investments can stimulate others (corporations and individuals) to re-invest in both living and working in more central locations to the benefit of environmental sustainability indicators like journey-to-work (distance and mode selected) and residential density. This article tracks changes in business composition and residential capacity during a five year period via the development of an intensive database of business and institutional activities. Urban sustainability metrics developed include residential capacity and density, business vacancy rates and business composition and turnover, which complement an existing measure of land-use diversity developed in earlier research. While major capital investments in downtown revitalization (such as the waterfront project) have fairly long-term impact horizons, data suggest some positive trends in the developed metrics in the downtown north core since 2009. In particular, there have been notable investments in waterfront condos and downtown lofts and some diversification in the food retailing and restaurant sectors. However, overall trends in downtown commerce are currently flat, indicative of a struggling local economy and a continued suburbanization of key commercial sectors. View Full-Text
Keywords: land-use change detection; urban sustainability metrics; land-use diversity; downtown revitalization; urban renewal; Central Business District land-use change detection; urban sustainability metrics; land-use diversity; downtown revitalization; urban renewal; Central Business District
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Randall, T.; Kavalchuk, T.; Nelson, R. Metrics of Urban Sustainability: A Case Study of Changing Downtowns in Thunder Bay, Canada. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1272.

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