Rapid placemaking to bring back Main Street

An inclusive pandemic recovery toolkit for local communities

Graphic illustration showing a main street lined with shops, apartment buildings, trees, and people of all ages doing different activities (cycling, walking, chatting, playing ping pong, playing music).

Canada’s main streets are the hearts of our communities. They are the places we go to work, shop, gather, and play. Restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19 have hit main streets in cities and towns hard. Many small businesses have shuttered. Thousands more are grappling with an uncertain future. We need to act now to save these vital civic spaces. But if we want to make local commercial areas safer, stronger and more inclusive in the long term, we need to include everyone in the planning process.

This illustrated toolkit offers advice on how to use inclusive processes for rapid placemaking, and is packed with examples of programming and interventions that you can use in your own town. It’s for residents, community groups, BIAs/BIDs, and city staff working to revive main streets and core spaces in big cities, suburbs and small towns.

We were thrilled to work with the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and dozens of urban leaders from across the country on Bring Back Main Street. This national research and action campaign focuses on making sure main streets and their inhabitants can recover from the impacts of COVID-19. Through engagement and collaborative learning, we created the Pandemic Recovery Toolkit for Local Communities.

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