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Comment revitalize the deserted downtown Gatineau, according to the ODO

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The Outaouais Observatory mentions in its study that there is a strong probability that the federal government will divest, in the medium and long term, of buildings located in downtown Gatineau.

Radio-Canada

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The study unveiled Friday on the attractiveness and diversification of downtown Gatineau, carried out by the Observatoire du développement de l'Outaouais (ODO), reveals that many players in the region hope to turn the tide with regard to the devitalization of the city center. With the massive departure of federal civil servants, the drop in traffic and the closure of businesses, elected officials, citizens and merchants want the city's economic center to regain its vitality.

The City of Gatineau has mandated the ODO to carry out a study aimed at finding solutions for the economic diversification and revitalization of the city center.

According to the report, in five years, downtown Gatineau experienced a significant decrease in the number of workers, which went from 36,070 to 14,460, between 2016 and 2021. Professional mobility, which was previously one of its main activities, decreased by 75%.

This portrait of the city center confirms the sharp decrease in traffic and an over-representation of public administration in the economic structure.

Due to the increase in teleworking which has led to the desertion of offices, the report mentions that it is very likely that the federal government will release, at medium term, buildings that he rents in the city center.

It is in this context that the ODO suggests possible solutions for the revitalization of downtown Gatineau, which involves its economic diversification.

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Stimulating the local economy by supporting small businesses would be essential.

Currently, several stakeholders met as part of the study criticize the City of Gatineau for not sufficiently targeting small and medium-sized local businesses for its economic development.

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The ODO report reveals that Gatineau is the city having experienced the greatest drop in pedestrian traffic in its city center since the pandemic, among 55 city centers studied across Canada. (File photo)

Stimulating the student presence in the city center is also a recommendation, which is also acclaimed by Hull-Wright district councilor Steve Moran.

Appearing on the show Les matins d'ici on Friday, the man who is also the interim head of Action Gatineau mentioned that it is necessary to use office and commercial spaces to accommodate other people , for example the University of Quebec in Outaouais, which is growing.

This point was also raised in the study: the proximity of several educational institutions offers an opportunity to attract students to the city center of Gatineau and encourage collaborations.

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Steve Moran assures that he is “optimistic” for the future of the city center, but that 'there are indeed challenges to be met.

Aware of the challenges, Mr. Moran still says he is optimistic: before, federal civil servants were obliged to come downtown. Now, people have to want to come, they have to choose to go there. He also adds taking into account the needs of current residents.

Downtown residents want local shops, a grocery store, a hardware store and other things to have a complete living environment. The number of current projects to add new people also shows the interest in the city center, explains Steve Moran.

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