Frequently Asked Questions

My Main Street is a $15-million investment from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to spur local economic recovery. My Main Street is delivered by the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) to help support the revitalization of neighbourhoods across southern Ontario. The program features two streams: Business Sustainability stream and Community Activator stream.

The Business Sustainability stream is intended to support the full amount requested by the business for eligible expenses.

Partial funding may be selectively approved at the discretion of the application assessors for both streams.

Successful applicants will receive market research reports free of charge.

These are unique and customized reports that will provide you with information and data about your specific main street and community that will provide business insights not typically accessed by small businesses.

Learn more about our Market Research Report.

CUI will undertake the development of market research reports that will highlight key social and demographic insights related to a main street’s local customer base (within a 15-minute walking radius). These reports will be used as tools to help ensure that investments supported through both the Business Sustainability and Community Activator streams are addressing the localized needs and opportunities of a main street to support business recovery, sustainability and growth strategies.

Each report will have demographic, household, food spend, in person/online shopping behaviour, and psychographic data points specific to the selected population group in the trade area.

In the Business Sustainability s tream, approved applicants will receive a custom Market Research Report tailored to their business or industry.

In the Community Activator stream, approved applicants will attend a one-hour webinar on how to use the data and will then be provided with a community profile report.

Read more about the Market Research Report here.

A non-repayable contribution is a funding contribution towards the eligible costs of your project that are not repayable.

This means you are provided funding toward a project that aligns with the goals of the program and aligns with eligible expenses listed on each stream’s overview page. You will not have to pay this money back – it is given to you to fulfil the project you have proposed. The eligible expenses are costs that, in the opinion of the funding body, are reasonable and required to carry out your project. You will be required to report on your expenses in order to receive the full funding amount requested.

Costs musts be incurred between December 1, 2023 and December 31, 2024.

The term “main street” represents the commercial and community focal point of a neighbourhood. They offer nearby residents access to shops, retailers, food and drink, and local services.

There are 5,300 main streets across southern Ontario that qualify for the My Main Street program on the basis of employment, business and service density, among many other data factors. Eligibility has been determined though a data framework created by the Canadian Urban Institute.

You can directly enter your address in our Measuring Main Streets mapping tool to determine if you are located within the program’s eligible main streets.

The full list of eligible regions surrounding municipalities can be found here; however, you can directly enter your address in our Measuring Main Streets mapping tool to determine if you are located within the program’s eligible main streets.

  • Brant County
  • Bruce County
  • Chatham-Kent
  • Dufferin Region
  • Durham Region
  • Elgin County
  • Essex County
  • Frontenac County
  • Grey County
  • Haldimand-Norfolk County
  • Haliburton County
  • Halton Region
  • Hamilton Region
  • Hastings County
  • Huron County
  • Kawartha Lakes
  • Lambton County
  • Lanark County
  • Leeds and Grenville Counties
  • Lennox and Addington County
  • Middlesex County
  • Niagara Region
  • Northumberland County
  • Ottawa Region
  • Oxford County
  • Peel Region
  • Perth County
  • Peterborough County
  • Prescott and Russell Counties
  • Prince Edward County
  • Renfrew County
  • Simcoe County
  • Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Counties
  • Toronto Region
  • Waterloo Region
  • Wellington County
  • York Region

Yes, Toronto businesses and organizations are now able to apply to My Main Street.

Enter your address in our Measuring Main Streets mapping tool to determine if you are located within the program’s eligible main streets.

Recipients of Toronto’s Main Street Innovation Fund cannot apply for the My Main Street program for the same project activities but are able to apply for a separate and distinct project.

The My Main Street Business Sustainability stream is focused on providing support to small, independently owned businesses located on main streets across southern Ontario. Support will include custom market research data delivered by the My Main Street team, business training opportunities and non-repayable contributions of up to $20,000. The stream will disburse a total of $6.5 million across southern Ontario.

Learn more about the Business Sustainability stream by visiting the program overview page and reading through the Applicant Guide.

The Community Activator stream is focused on providing support for community projects in southern Ontario that are designed to draw visitors and increase local vibrancy. Organizations may apply for up to $250,000 for high-impact placemaking projects that seek to revitalize neighbourhoods and reimagine public spaces including main streets, downtown strips and plazas.

Learn more about the Community Activator stream by visiting the program overview page, the Examples page, and by reading through the Applicant Guide.

The My Main Street program returns with the Community Activator stream and introduces the new Business Sustainability stream. Below are highlights of changes to the program in 2024:

  • New Business Sustainability stream increases direct-to-business contributions of up to $20,000 from the previous $10,000
  • Simplified application process streamlines how businesses access funds
  • Community Activator stream will expand to even more communities across southern Ontario.
  • Both programs are now available in Toronto!
  • Businesses will receive industry-specific market research reports tailored to their business.

The Local Business Accelerator stream provided main street business owners within 65 designated My Main Street communities access to My Main Street Ambassadors, customized market research reports, and non-repayable funding contributions.

Please note that the Local Business Accelerator stream has been completed and, as such, the market research report and non-repayable funding contribution application portals are closed. This stream has been replaced with the Business Sustainability Program.

You can view a map displaying the 65 designated My Main Street communities here.

The Local Business Accelerator stream has been completed and, as such, the market research report and non-repayable funding contribution application portals are closed. My Main Street is not accepting applications from businesses for the Local Business Accelerator stream at this time.

The name of your business, the municipality in which it resides and the amount of funding you receive will be public information.

Recipients of funding may be asked to participate in announcements, events and storytelling initiatives related to their business to promote the impact of my Main Street funding on the main street community, as per the funding agreement.

No, businesses do not need to allocate additional funding or resources toward the project.

Business Sustainability stream funding decisions are final.

You will need to provide the following documents with your application:

  1. Copies of Business Registration
    (Letters of Incorporation, Partnership Agreement, or Master Business Licence)
  2. Verification of Commercial Property Taxes
    (copy of a Commercial Tax Bill or Lease Agreement highlighting its inclusion in the rent)
  3. Storefront photo
    (high resolution photo of your storefront)

Yes, all expenses must be reconciled with the submission of interim and final reports, and all supporting receipts and/or proofs of purchase.

No, this program does not cover the costs of hiring staff. The program is intended to support business growth projects and improve revenue for your business.

Any expenses that do not fall within the eligibility list may be ineligible; however, some expenses are dependent on their significance to the project proposal. Contact us if you are unsure about your specific expense.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of examples of expenses that are not eligible for reimbursement through the Business Sustainability stream:

  • Purchasing land and/or buildings, real estate fees and related costs.
    • Capital costs (land, building construction, underground plumbing)
  • Indirect costs/overhead.
  • Purchasing a vehicle.
  • Depreciation or amortization expenses.
  • Staff wages/paystubs.
  • Payments to any member or officer of the Recipient’s Board of Directors.
  • Costs of individual membership in a professional body.
  • Construction of new buildings or facilities.
  • 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.
  • Events and activities that do not abide by local and provincial Public Health guidelines.
  • Expenses incurred outside the eligibility window (December 1, 2023 and December 31, 2024).

Previous recipients of the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator can apply to the new Business Sustainability stream; however, new applicants will be given priority.

Non-repayable contributions can be used to cover a range of eligible expenses, including:

  • Bricks-and-mortar startup costs (for businesses located at their address under one year):
    • Equipment
    • Lease (e.g., initial lease costs)
    • Leasehold improvements (e.g., improvements to the business space, etc.)
    • External Façade renovations (e.g., signage or external façade updates)
    • Inventory (e.g., purchasing inventory)
    • Marketing campaigns
    • Technology (e.g., securing tech to support business operations)
  • Business expansion costs
    • Equipment
    • Leasehold improvements (e.g., improvements to the business space, etc.)
    • External façade renovations (e.g., signage or external façade updates)
    • Inventory (e.g., purchasing inventory)
    • Marketing campaigns
    • Technology (e.g., securing tech to support business operations, such POS, CRM or other systems)

Not sure if your project costs are eligible? Review the ineligible costs list in the Applicant Guide and then contact us if your cost does not fall into those categories.

A small business is generally defined as any business that is independently owned and operated, typically with fewer than 50 employees, and usually with less than $10 million in annual revenue

  • For this program, a small business is a business that:
  • Has between 1 to 50 employees;
  • Is a registered business paying commercial property tax;
  • Is owned by an Ontario resident operating a business in Ontario; and
  • Is not a franchise, including those individually owned and operated.

No, this stream is only available for independent small businesses.

A main street business is:

  • Located within a designated “main street”, defined by a primary retail street, usually the focal point of a local community and its residents for shops, retailers, food and drink, and local services;
  • Located on an eligible main street, confirmed on the Measuring Main Streets mapping tool;
  • Abrick-and-mortar location;
  • Open to the general public for walk-in and onsite purchases of goods and services;
  • Not a franchise, including those individually owned and operated;
  • Not in a shared workspace such as a hot desk or dedicated desk;
  • Not a consulting or professional services company; and
  • Not purely an online business.

The Business Sustainability stream is intended for businesses that are growing or can demonstrate opportunities for growth. “Demonstrated revenue growth” means that a business must show that their income has been increasing or that they are economically sustainable. This may look different for each business and can be described further in your application.

Businesses can apply for up to $20,000.

If you require a lower amount, please apply in increments of $5,000 (e.g.,. one of the following: $5,000, $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000).

  1. Determine if you are located on an identified main street. There are approximately 5300 main streets identified across southern Ontario. Your business is eligible if your project exists within 100m 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
  • Copies of Business Registration
    (Letters of Incorporation, Partnership Agreement, or Master Business License)
  • Verification of Commercial Property Taxes
    (copy of a Commercial Tax Bill or Lease Agreement highlighting its inclusion in the rent)
  • Storefront photo
    (high resolution photo of your storefront)

The core objectives of the Business Sustainability stream are:

  • Improve productivity, capacity and competitiveness of businesses that increases employment and growth opportunities
  • Enhance the resilience of communities
  • Support and prioritize equity-deserving groups
  • Provide custom market research data and analysis

Community Activator funding decisions are final.

Organizations may submit one (1) application per project, per intake period, but an organization can apply for multiple projects per intake period. If your application is denied, you may apply for the same project in future intake periods.

Yes, all expenses for the project must be reported on in order to receive reimbursements.

Throughout the program, funding will be provided in the form of reimbursement against detailed spending. Successful applicants will report on expenditures on a quarterly basis for reimbursement. Advances of up to 25 percent of total project costs can be requested, to ensure applicants have access to the required resources.

Submitted projects will be assessed for:

  • Vision - Is the placemaking project clearly defined with a clear geographic area and well-conceived objectives, including those related to equity seeking populations?
  • 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?

The My Main Street Community Activator selection process will be adjudicated on vision and capacity through a Selection Committee or Committees, including:

  • External representatives with demonstrated experience in community placemaking, local economic development, successful implementation and project management.
  • Representatives with the above experience who identify as members of equity-seeking communities from across southern Ontario.

Before initiating their scoring process, the Selection Committee(s) will be required to participate in a training session facilitated by the Canadian Urban Institute that will outline the project’s vision, objectives and requirements and will address issues of systemic bias.

All applications will be scored based on standardized project evaluation criteria.

Documents you will need to provide:

  • 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 organizations finances. If you have any questions about what is required, please email placemaking@mymainstreet.ca.

Yes, you can use Community Activator funds to pay for employees directly related to the project.

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

My Main Street Community Activator recipients will be required to provide documented expenses for their completed work, and funding will be made in the form of reimbursements. Here are some examples of expenses that are not eligible for reimbursement through My Main Street Community Activator:

  • Purchasing land and/or buildings, real estate fees and related costs.
  • Capital expenditures.
    • Ineligible capital expenditures include new construction and renovation of existing infrastructure and buildings.
  • Purchasing a vehicle.
  • Depreciation or amortization expenses.
  • Payments to any member or officer of the Recipient’s Board of Directors.
  • Costs of individual membership in a professional body.
  • 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 window (December 1, 2023 and December 31, 2024).
  • Funds cannot be used to cover owner, management, or existing employee labour costs. Funds can be applied to support costs of project related labour

Eligible costs can include:

  • Labour costs;*
  • Consultants;
  • Communications, marketing and promotion;
  • Program costs related to equipment, materials, evaluation, insurance, permits and approvals, program honoraria, project measurement/analytics costs, etc.; and
  • 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.

Visit our Examples page or review the Applicant Guide for an extensive list of eligible costs and examples.

Previous recipients of Community Activator funding can apply; however, new applicants will be given priority.

Applicants will be notified about the results of their application between April 1, 2024 and May 30, 2024.

To apply for the Community Activator stream, review the eligibility requirements and applicant guide. Confirm that your organization is located within one of the main street areas by entering your address in the Measuring Main Streets mapping tool. Once you have confirmed you are eligible, submit an application here.

  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
  • 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.

Organizations can apply for up to $250,000 in non-repayable funding.