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Downtown Oakville saw a surge in visitors in 2022, creating streetscape buzz

The Town believes the revitalized downtown will continue to fuel growth and attract visitors in 2023.
Downtown reconstruction | Oakville News N.M.
Downtown reconstruction | Oakville News N.M.

According to a recent report submitted to the Town of Oakville, the foot traffic to the historic commercial hub on Lakeshore Road increased by over 34% year over year in 2022. The Town attributes the "phenomenal growth" to Downtown's revitalization and hopes to see it continue this year. 

However, local businesses, old and new alike, worry about the inadequate parking for the visitors to the area, which is yet to be addressed.  

For the uninitiated, the Lakeshore Road Reconstruction and Streetscape Project began in 2019 and has been used as a case study for sustainable technologies. The Town completed the project in 2020, bringing much-awaited relief to the local businesses reeling from pandemic-caused losses. 

To track the upscale business district's performance after the streetscape project, the Town of Oakville subscribed to a data, analytics and marketing services company.

Measuring people count was part of the process: according to the data provider's report, the reconstructed district drew 7,039,138 people in 2022, over 34% more than the previous year. 

"These numbers show that more and more people are benefiting from the revitalization of downtown and our tremendous partnership with the Downtown Oakville Business Improvement Area (BIA)," said Regional and Town Councillor Janet Haslett-Theall, also a member of BIA's Board of Directors

Oakville News spoke with a few local businesses about their thoughts on the project. 

"They have done a great job for the pedestrians who can now stroll safely on wider boulevards. However, my concern still remains with the parking, an issue we have raised for years. For my customers, parking is challenging and getting worse," said Carol Vesters, owner of Swiss Interiors, a 70-year-old family-owned furniture store downtown. 

Councillor Haslett-Theall confirmed the need for additional parking, saying, "We are not done yet. We want businesses to recover from construction and Covid and build a plan for the next five to seven years on what comes first without disrupting the Downtown's success." 

Referring to more than 50 new businesses that have joined Downtown Oakville in the last two years, she said, "I have confidence that this trend will last and the new businesses will create a buzz."  

The BIA, "dedicated to improving the economic health and quality of life in Downtown Oakville", is also in charge of marketing and beautification of the business district. Fall FestChristmas gift cardSummer Music series are signature initiatives of BIA. 

Highlighting more on the Town and BIA's partnership, the councillor said, "The BIA brought the place to life so that the town can thrive. They are activating the businesses that the streetscape has supported." 

Michelle of the newly-opened Mochi Girls on Lakeshore Road loves how vibrant and lively the Downtown is.

"This place is so beautifully done and we instantly identified the potential of thriving here, when we saw so much traffic," Michelle, the co-owner of the first mochi donut shop in town, added.

With more plans, such as Towne Square revitalization in 2024 and advancing the Downtown Cultural Hub, the councillor hoped that "a visit to downtown would be the best part of your day."