Is Downtown Oakville Dying or Thriving?

It’s predictably cumbersome to find parking when you’re heading downtown … unless we’re talking about downtown Oakville.

With its empty storefronts - including the LCBO which is closing on July 15 - and older demographic, you can pretty much roll up around 7 p.m. on a Wednesday and score a premium spot on the street.

But good luck crossing items from your shopping list.

There’s a borderline dramatic ‘shop local’ photo floating around social media depicting a sign waxing lyrical about how downtown Oakville needs to be saved … (thanks to the person who posted it for inspiring us!)

The sign, apparently displayed in a shop window, acknowledges the downtown core’s impending demise.

We kind of dig the idea (of conversation, not closures), and have come up with some key things downtown Oakville could do better.

Let’s start with the hours of operation.

We know it’s a 9-to-5 world but these store hours are downright ridiculous.

I adore the delicate dresses at Mendocino.

But it’s open from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., which means I’ll essentially never, ever shop there because I must (and want to) work to pay the bills.

The weekend hours are equally perplexing.

Same goes for modern accessories I covet at Anthropologie. Their hours are also terrible, although they do stay open until 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.

(It’s a throwback to TD Bank when they first started opening “late”, remember?)

So who can make it to Lakeshore Rd. E. during the day besides retirees and stay-at-home parents?

People who work in downtown Toronto can’t get there, especially if they’re married to the GO train schedule.

Post-secondary students who commute to various parts of the Greater Toronto Area on the regular will never arrive in time.

So the next time Anthropologie is having an amazing 35% off sale, they’ll head to Queen West, Yorkville, or Yorkdale — in other words, if they can’t shop along Lakeshore, they’ll spend their money in Hogtown and keep boosting Toronto’s economy.

People who live in bordering cities won’t squeeze it in either because by the time they get through traffic, everything’s locked up.

If younger families are moving into the area, in part, for the great schools Oakville offers, why aren’t the hours reflective of the changing demographic?

Speaking of families, Midnight Madness gives people a reason to get excited about heading to Oakville.

The annual event is a family outing, it’s a ritual with your best friends from university, or it’s something to do with the neighbours you’ve known for a year or 18.

Downtown Oakville is stunning and charming and filled with history and memories — and people want to create memories here.

There’s an incredible selection of amazing restaurants and cafes to choose from, and I’d say it’s the most gorgeous stretch of Lakeshore Rd. in the entire GTA.

Being more open to development is another step we’d love to see.

New development will attract more people to the ‘hood, and if they live nearby they’ll shop local, too, in theory.

(Look at the Rain & Senses condos and subsequent lineups at restos along Kerr St.! Coincidence?…)

Finally, diversifying the selection in downtown Oakville is key.

It’s great to have high-end stores (such as Tommy Bahama or Peak Performance) but if you have all these vacant storefronts, why not open an H&M?

Or a SoulCycle? How about J. Crew?

Restos such as Bru and Tribeca Coffee are successfully targeting young and trendy folks, making it easy for them to frequent Lakeshore and stick around after sunset.

So please, downtown Oakville, consider the thought of changing with the times and staying open late more than once a year.

Your Comments