A leading non-profit says that Sudbury’s downtown core has few residents and gets less funding than many of its neighbours in northern Ontario.  

“In terms of the per cent of the municipal budget being spent on the downtown, it's still pretty low,” said Christine Meehan, an engineer with the Canadian Urban Institute.  

The CUI is studying the economic health of Sudbury’s downtown and has already made some surprising findings.

According to Meehan, only about 600 people live in the city centre, while more than 6,000 commute to the downtown core for work.  

She also noted the downtown area currently attracts only two per cent of all municipal investment. 

Local business leaders say this information bolsters their case for more help from the city.

“A strong downtown and a strong core drives your city,” said Jeff MacIntyre, the chair of the development group Downtown Sudbury.

He said the CUI findings will help business groups persuade the city that more direct funding is needed.  

Developers hesitant 

Susan Thompson, the managing director of the Downtown Village Development Corporation, said the numbers were surprising.

“It's a wake-up call,” said Thompson, “and it sort of poses the question, 'how do we get more people into the core?'”

hi-susan-thompson-852

Susan Thompson is the managing director of the Downtown Village Development Corporation. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

While developers are interested in building housing in downtown Sudbury, Thompson said she has seen many lose interest because of high construction and labour costs, as well as strict municipal rules.

Thompson said she is hopeful that partnerships with private groups and the city will smooth the way for more people to move downtown in the future.

The CUI will be studying the downtown cores of many northern Ontario cities over the next few months. The organization is very interested to learn people's views about their communities' downtowns. An online survey can be found by clicking on the link to the left of this story.