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Do young adults want to live in Downtown Prince George?

A new UNBC study wants to find out if millennials and Gen Z are interested in living downtown
CrossRoads Tourism Prince George  Darrin Rigo
A new study is looking at whether or not young people want to live in downtown Prince George.

A UNBC researcher wants to find out if young adults want to live in downtown Prince George.  

Rylan Graham, an assistant professor in the school of environmental planning, has launched a survey to try and understand the attitudes of young adults (individuals born between 1980 and 2004 i.e. millennials and Gen Z) toward living in downtown Prince George.

Graham’s research focuses on issues related to neighbourhood change and downtown revitalization with a particular focus on mid-sized Canadian cities.

“I have lived in a number of other cities and am someone who loves downtowns in both small and big cities, and I wanted to better understand downtown Prince George from this cohort of population,” explains Graham.

He said there is this idea across North America where millennials, and now Gen Z, reject the suburban lifestyle and are interested in living in a context that is more urban because of the proximity to amenities and the ability to take transit.

“Lots of places have had a resurgence in their downtowns not only as places to be, but places to live as well,” said Graham.

“We just look at downtown Prince George and it is pretty easy to see that it hasn’t really occurred here.”

He said while there has been development over the past couple of years, including the Park House Condos and the VEDA student residences, there hasn’t been a lot of residential development and this research is trying to understand why.

“If there has been this strong push in other places in Canada, and a resurgence of young people living downtown and we have seen that happen, why aren’t we seeing that in downtown Prince George?”

The questions in the survey are meant to get a sense of how young adults view the downtown overall and as a place to live.

“Why aren’t we seeing this in Prince George? What are the factors that make Prince George unique in the sense and deviate away from other cities in Canada where we have seen this type of population growth?”

The survey has already garnered about 1,000 responses will be open for several more weeks so Graham can get as many different perspectives from young adults as possible.

He said once he’s able to analyze the data, it will lead to some sort of academic publishing, but he hopes this information can be used more broadly by the community as well.

Graham said this research is also meant to build upon existing initiatives in place that are trying to increase investment downtown.

“It is meant to compliment or build off of those efforts from the city and other stakeholders, but to get a better sense of how do people see the downtown, in particular, as a place to live?” said Graham.

“This study is meant to try and provide a better understanding of the residential component, like what sort of demand is there for living in downtown Prince George.”

In order to increase responses for the survey, Graham has also worked with local downtown businesses to create prize draws for those who enter.

Those who complete the survey will be entered to win gift cards ranging from $20 to $50 from local downtown businesses or the grand prizes, which is a one-night stay at the Hyatt, dinner at Betulla Burning and a crafting experience at the Makerie, valued at about $400.

“It’s been really great to support a lot of downtown businesses who are really excited about this subject and they have been really gracious to work with and been really helpful,” added Graham.

The survey takes only a few minutes to complete and is available online.