Downtown Owen Sound Survey Offers Few Surprises

As part of the Downtown Owen Sound Revitalization Study, surveys were conducted on three groups: Businesses & Landlords, Residents and Customers. The results hold few surprises and reinforce some common perceptions about problems in the downtown core. Regardless, the information is valuable as it helps determine the issues that a revitalization project should address.

The Customer Origin survey was conducted by interviews with shoppers in the downtown area. Of those polled during weekdays 18.9% were 50-59, 23.4% were between the ages of 60-69 and 22.3% were over 70.

Here were some of the findings:

  • 46% cited banking was the primary reason for being downtown
  • 36% stated this as being the secondary reason for being downtown
  • 16% said coffee, fund or lunch was their primary reason
  • 32% stated this as their secondary reason

When asked what improvements they would like to see:

  • 25% wanted more restaurants, bar and cafés but not fast food establishments
  • 21% wanted more clothing stores for men and women

The Business Owner & Landlord survey had 153 participants and was conducted in October and November 2016 and included 20 questions. Of those surveyed, 46% owned property in the downtown either as a landlord or business owner. Of these, 83% stated they were planning to stay or expand their presence. Occupancy rate is an important indicator of business activity and on average 90.4% of retail space and 92.4% of residential space was occupied.

Here are some of the additional findings:

  • 89% use a web site, social media or both for promotion
  • 64% believe e-commerce would be a key for future growth

When asked about what they perceive as the strengths of the downtown retail sector it was the unique businesses and small size most commonly stated. The helpfulness and knowledge of business owners was also deemed important.

Parking issues and tickets topped the list of problems followed by the appearance of buildings and the presence of loiterers.

The Resident Survey included 689 people and was available on-line and in paper form. Surveys were also conducted at Attack Games and the YMCA. Respondents were asked for a postal code and several questions to determine how frequently they visit the downtown and what they perceive as the strengths and weaknesses.

  • 29% reported they visited the downtown 2-5 times per week
  • 11% said they seldom or never come downtown. Of these respondents 54% cited parking issues and 37% a lack of suitable stores as their reason.

Owen Sound Parking Ticket

A common complaint 39%, cited parking issues and tickets as a weakness of the downtown and 26% thought loiterers/panhandlers were a problem. 7% of respondents said they felt unsafe and that there should be an increased police presence.

The last element of the survey was a Market Area Data report that used age and postal code data generated from the Customer Origin Survey. The median age derived was 47.4 years with the dominant age group in the 55-59 range. 73% were married couples and own their own home.

What do you think are the main issues facing downtown Owen Sound and what actions do you think should be taken?

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