We want our applicants to be inspired by what’s possible, and think differently about ways to draw people into their neighbourhoods, drive economic activity and support social inclusion and vibrancy.
As communities continue to adapt to COVID-19, this program provides support for local groups to revitalize neighborhoods and reimagine public spaces including main streets, downtown strips and plazas, as vibrant and inclusive places that work for everyone.
My Main Street supports placemaking, an approach that asks people to collectively reimagine and reshape public space to maximize its shared value. Placemaking can take the form of:
events that draw people into a community
murals that brighten neglected streetscapes and celebrate local artists
seating and temporary patios that allow people to gather safely outdoors
new uses for neglected or empty spaces, and more.
The best placemaking projects build on the unique local character, and the strengths, talents and interests of their diverse residents.
My Main Street Community Activator Themes
Events and Activations
Short, limited or reoccurring community events or activations aimed at attracting an audience, responding to an underserved market demand, enhancing community connection and/or creating an appealing destination that positions the area as a center of community and economic activity.
- Organize a market day for specific local businesses to expand their stores onto the streets and sidewalks
- Create a series of physically-distance outdoor performances, featuring diverse local artists.
- Host a visioning ‘block party’ that engages diverse community members in identifying challenges and new ideas for a main street or neighbourhood.
- Commission artists and purchase materials for a mural festival that celebrates the uniqueness of the neighbourhood, and highlights the work of diverse local artists or a unique element of local history.
- Host a physically-distance ‘movie in the park’ series and engage local businesses in offering food and drinks for movie-goers.
- Host a holiday or other specialized craft market that features local makers.
- Host a music festival that engages local musicians and attracts people to local restaurants, bars and live music venues.
- Work with local designers to design installations for vacant storefronts.
- Commission diverse local artists to create a series of interactive art installations in public spaces.
- Create an artist-in-residence program that gives emerging designers and makers opportunities to activate public spaces.
- Design a main street scavenger hunt that engages community groups and businesses.
- Host a street festival with food trucks, live performances and opportunities for local businesses to sell/promote their products.
- Create a winter themed recurring market which could include improvements listed in the next section.
- Close main street to cars and open it to people in a series of events in conjunction with ideas listed above.
Above grade enhancements to a streetscape, design, landscaping and amenities that support the transformation of a specific geographic area by enhancing the physical and visual assets that can set the area apart. Capital costs including new buildings are not eligible for reimbursements.
- Design and build a series of pop-up parkettes on vacant properties and parking lots.
- Install comfort stations for vulnerable populations. These could include amenities such as showers, washrooms, and hand washing stations.
- Design and implement a laneway transformation project using art, murals, plants, and lighting.
- Design and build a set of ‘selfie’ installations.
- Purchase materials to improve or enhance a local farmers market, such as new signage or seating areas.
- Beautify a local strip mall or shopping district that is central to those from equity seeking groups.
- Hire or expand a clean streets team to help keep a main street or neighbourhood clean, tidy and safe.
- Create a lighting installation that lights up public spaces to counter the darkness of winter.
- Build warming huts that encourage people to stop, rest, and warm up on main streets during winter.
- Install public outdoor fire pits that encourage community connection in a safe and physically-distanced way.
- Create a shared patio or public space for local cafes and restaurants to use.
- Purchase new seating, umbrellas or awnings for a publicly accessible outdoor patio.
- Create accessible outdoor work stations with publicly available wifi.
- Install wheelchair ramps throughout the neighbourhood where curb cuts do not exist.
- Purchase and install publicly accessible washrooms or hand washing stations in public spaces.
- Design and purchase materials to beautify street/sidewalk patio barriers.
- Add a temporary skating rink on a side street within or adjacent to the main street business district.
Policy and capacity building
- Develop a sustainable placemaking strategy for a specific geographic area, engaging diverse stakeholders to create a plan to build meaningful economic and social vibrancy.
- Develop a framework for ongoing public space activation and engagement for a main street or neighbourhood.
- Develop a plan for winter placemaking that includes principles, policies and practices for activating public spaces through all four seasons.
- Establish a multi-disciplinary working group to develop a main street recovery action plan.
- Conduct a study to identify barriers to main street businesses within municipal zoning standards (i.e., patio footprints, permissible industrial uses) and provide specific recommendations that could facilitate localized economic growth and support equity seeking groups.
- Conduct a study and develop a plan to optimize mobility and pedestrian safety in a particular area during COVID-19.
- Hire a social media manager to help promote main street businesses and encourage people to ‘support local’, and drive business to equity seeking groups.
- Commission an expert to conduct inclusion training for local businesses.
- Host a series of workshops that build the capacity of local businesses to manage inclusion and safety issues in the neighbourhood.
- Develop a strategy to engage equity-seeking groups in the revitalization of the main street.
- Conduct a community mapping project that engages residents in a process of identifying assets, opportunities and challenges.
- Conduct an assessment of the accessibility of a main street or neighbourhood and develop a plan for how to address shortfalls.
- Hire a designer or marketing firm to develop a ‘support local’ campaign that encourages people to shop on a main street or in a neighbourhood.
- Develop a communication campaign that encourages people to embrace winter on a main street.
- Create an incentive program that rewards people for shopping local.
What kind of projects are ineligible?
- Purchasing land and/or buildings, real estate fees and related costs.
- Purchasing a vehicle.
- Construction of new buildings or facilities, or renovations to existing buildings.
- Legal fees related to litigation.
- Partisan, political or election related activities.
- Research projects where findings are not, or are not intended to be, tangibly applied as an outcome of the project. For example, carrying out a feasibility study without intending to carry out the work.
- Projects that benefit only private interests.
- Events and activities that do not abide by local and provincial Public Health guidelines.
- Expenses incurred outside the eligibility windows:
- Year One (2021): costs incurred between June 8, 2021 and December 31, 2021.
- Year Two (2021): costs incurred between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022.
Examples of successful Community Activator Projects
from Year One
Here are some examples of the successful projects from Year One of the My Main Street Community Activator program. We will continue to update this document with more projects, so keep checking back for more ideas and inspiration.