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A nation-wide conversation about Canada's downtowns.


About the Project

I Belong Downtown is a nation-wide conversation about Canada’s downtowns.  It celebrates our downtowns as vibrant, welcoming places that embrace diversity of all kinds – and how this makes our communities, cities and country thrive.

Starting on Canada's 150th birthday, I Belong Downtown will be gathering stories from Canadians across the country, through videos, pictures, and written submissions.  Canadians of all ages and backgrounds who live, visit and work downtown are encouraged to share their downtown stories. 


Canada's downtowns are dynamic places with rich cultural diversity and endless creative energy.  

Downtowns are where people of different cultures mix, become neighbours, friends and partners. They are places where people generally value and appreciate differences in ethnicity, gender, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, education, and religion.  They are where people feel accepted to be who they are and have the freedom to express themselves.

This vibrancy, mix of cultures, and openness to difference in Canada’s downtowns creates a unique sense of belonging unlike any other environment, and people and economies thrive because of it. 

This is truly something to celebrate and reflect on as Canada turns 150.



Everyone has a story to tell, and we want to give people a chance to share them.

Like downtowns, stories bring people together; they build understanding and respect for each other, our similarities and our differences.  Storytelling is how people communicate with each other and how we relay our experiences to others.

This nation-wide story-telling campaign will help build a sense of appreciation for how important Canada's downtowns are to our country`s past, present and future.



We’re working with 5 Project Partners across Canada: the Downtown Victoria BIA (DVBA), Downtown Saskatoon BIA (DTNYXE), Downtown London BIA, Yonge Street BIA in Toronto and the Downtown Halifax BIA.

These project partners have offered their support to help us promote the project and gather stories from Canadians across the country.  We will be holding events in each of the 5 cities in Fall 2017 to celebrate and share the best I Belong Downtown stories, and the unique role our downtowns play in the past, present and future of our country.

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I Belong Downtown was created by Canadian Urban Institute and funded in part by the Government of Canada.  Inspiration for the project comes from work that CUI has been involved with in the past decade, working with the Canadian members of the International Downtown Association to measure the value of investing in Canadian downtowns called The Value of Investing in Canadian DowntownsCUI continues to work with downtowns across Canada through creation of a Toolkit for BIAs and BIDs and it's Downtowns 360 program.