The My Main Street Community Activator provides support for community projects in southern Ontario designed to draw visitors and increase local vibrancy.

This program supports high-impact placemaking projects that seek to revitalize neighborhoods and reimagine public spaces including main streets, downtown strips and plazas as vibrant and inclusive places that work for everyone.

Funding will be allocated to provide non-repayable contributions up to $250,000 to support community not-for-profit projects.

Applications are open between February 22 and March 31, 2024.

The Community Activator stream is intended to fund high-impact placemaking projects. Placemaking can be:
Icon Events Activations

Events and Activations

Community events of a short, limited or repeating duration intended to draw visitors or create a new local offering, helping position a specific geographic area as a hub of community and economic activity.

Icon Community Enhancements

Community enhancements

Above grade improvements to a specific geographic area that will enhance its physical and visual appeal, draw people in and increase feelings of safety, connection and community enjoyment.

Icon Streetscape Improvements

Streetscape Improvements

Projects that facilitate a focused, deliberate path to revitalizing or strengthening a downtown or commercial district’s economy through intentional and creative placemaking.

Funding will be provided through reimbursements for placemaking projects including events and activities, community enhancements and streetscape improvements that aim to drive engagement, promote social cohesion, and spur economic activity in a defined geographic area.

My Main Street recognizes that placemaking can help revitalize local main streets, driving economic and social renewal from downtown strips to plazas, and everywhere in between to create stronger connections between people and places.

Funding will be prioritized for projects that will support sustainable placemaking strategies for their geographic area and are designed to support economic and social benefits for equity-deserving groups.

Funding up to $250,000 will be available and provided as reimbursements against completed work. Successful applicants maybe eligible to receive 25 percent of their approved project costs in advance, as required, to help bring their vision to reality.

Eligibility

  • Applicants from communities located within southern Ontario. The full list of eligible regions surrounding municipalities can be found here.
  • Representatives of the following groups:
    • Municipality, local or regional government;
    • Business improvement areas (BIAs);
    • Indigenous governing body or development corporation;
    • Federally or provincially incorporated not-for-profit;
  • Other community organizations that apply with another organization that is listed as eligible.
  • Applicants who can confirm that they have or will obtain all necessary licences and permits in relation to their project, satisfying the requirements of all regulating bodies of their appropriate jurisdiction.
  • Applicants whose project is focused on a defined geographic area and neighborhoods, including main streets, downtown strips and plazas. Funding cannot be used to support programming across a municipal jurisdiction.
  • Applicants who can identify how their work will contribute to sustainable economic and social vibrancy.
  • Applicants who are working collaboratively with other local community delivery partners.
  • Applicants who can identify how their project will support the inclusion, safety and prosperity of equity-deserving groups including Francophone, women, Indigenous, racialized groups, Black communities, newcomers, youth (39 and under), people living with disabilities, unhoused, low income, Trans or non-binary people and/or 2SLGBTQIA+.
  • Applicants who are willing to participate in announcements, events and storytelling initiatives related to their project, its impact on community vibrancy and its funding through the My Main Street program.
  • Applicants who have not received funding through alternate placemaking programs supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) in the last calendar year (for example, Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative).

Eligible Expenses

The funds must be used to cover costs (net HST) related to the following categories:

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 centre of community and economic activity.

Community Improvements

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. Enhancements and projects that support sustainable and impactful placemaking, build equity and enjoyment or support the local economy.

Eligible costs can include:

  • Labour costs*
  • Consultants
  • Communications, marketing and promotion
  • Program costs related to equipment, materials, evaluation, insurance, permits & approvals, program honoraria, etc.
  • Capital expenditures
    • Above-grade enhancements to streetscape, design, landscaping and amenities such as murals, seating, temporary installations and lighting are eligible.

*Funds cannot be used to cover owner, management or existing employee labour costs. Funds can be applied to support costs of project-related labour.

Review the Applicant Guide for ineligible expenses or contact us for questions at placemaking@mymainstreet.ca.


Evaluation

Applications will be assessed against:
  • Vision
    Is the placemaking project clearly defined with a clear geographic area and well-conceived objectives, including those related to equity-deserving populations? Does the project have a clear scope and objective? Does it include an innovative or reimagined activation?

  • Capacity
    Is there a strong team in place with a well-thought-out plan for successful implementation, a fully costed budget and a clearly articulated plan to measure success?

  • Community need
    Does the proposed geographic area have a clearly defined need as indexed by historical patterns of retail spend, mobility and demographic representation?

Once applications have been scored, they will be assessed for equitable regional distribution, rural distribution and distribution to traditional underrepresented and equity-deserving groups.

Examples

As communities continuously adapt and grow, the Community Activator stream 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.

The My Main Street program supports placemaking, which is 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 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.

View the Community Activator stream’s Examples page for more ideas and eligible projects.

Not sure if your project qualifies? Review the list of ineligible expenses or contact us at placemaking@mymainstreet.ca.

How to Apply

  1. Determine if you are located on an identified main street. There are approximately 5300 main streets identified across southern Ontario. Your organization is eligible if your project exists within the 100m radius of the main street.
  2. Determine your businesses eligibility; all eligibility criteria is listed in the Applicant Guide.
  3. Review the eligible expenses list to see if your project is eligible for funding; all eligible expenses are listed in the Applicant Guide.
  4. Download and prepare your Application Form.
  5. Fill out, save and submit the submission form with all of the required documents by clicking Apply Now below.
Documents you will need to provide:
  • Completed Application Form
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  • Project budget (in the template provided)
  • One piece of documentation confirming your organizational status as an eligible organization. This can include, but is not limited to Articles of Incorporation, Business Number Registration, Charitable Status, etc.
  • Organization’s most recent financial statements (audited if available).
    Financial statements generally include all of the following:
    • Balance sheet
    • Income statement
    • Cash flow statement
    • Statement of retained earnings.

The Community Activator stream, while competitive, supports organizations of all capacities. If you do not have the financial statements in the formats listed above, you may still submit an application, but must provide equivalent documentation of your organization’s finances. If you have any questions about what is required, please email placemaking@mymainstreet.ca.

If you have any further questions about the My Main Street Community Activator stream, we encourage you to contact us.

PARTNERS

My Main Street is operated by the Canadian Urban Institute and funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.


Canadian Urban Institute
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