This is a time when Canada must harness its community-driven resilience. We’re asking you to share examples of how Canadian communities are responding to the crisis with creativity and imagination. Collective problem-solving and collaboration will be instrumental in how Canada mitigates the local impacts of COVID-19 and creates on-the-ground solutions.

Highlighted Initiatives

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Initiatives

The BlackBox is a selection of culinary delights featuring Black, Indigenous and People of Colour food producers and a beautiful mask from artisan makers in partnership with FoodShare, a poverty and food insecurity non-profit

Food | Fundraising and volunteering | Local businesses | Shop Local

Available for order and delivered in Toronto in February 2021

City program aims to increase digital equity and access to affordable high-speed internet in Toronto

Policy leadership | Public health | Social isolation

The City of Toronto is introducing ConnectTO – a City-driven collaborative program that aims to leverage the use of municipal resources and assets to help bridge the increasing digital divide by expanding access to affordable, high-speed internet to underserved Toronto residents.

Teepees and tent erected by Thunderbird House to warm homeless in Winnipeg

Housing and homelessness

Anishiative, a youth leadership program, set about putting up two teepees and a prospector tent next to Thunderbird House. The shelters are now called the Community Caring Camp. Both teepees will have fires inside and the prospector tent will have a woodstove, where people can warm up and grab some refreshments. As well as a warm place to go, the group will be handing out cold weather clothing for those who need it. Fontaine said they are also looking for donations of firewood, lights, coffee and volunteer time. He said people are needed to help keep the fires going and ensuring visitors are safe.

Parkdale FitPlay supports Black fitness leaders to help locals take care of their mental and physical health while exploring parks

General: Online communities and networks | Mental health | Social isolation

The local business improvement area connected with Black people in the fitness industry (yoga instructor, baseball coach, track athlete and boxing coach). On the Parkdale FitPlay Instagram account, these instructors take turns demonstrating how to do exercises with proper form. Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/parkdalefitplay/

How it works: Community members are encouraged to visit designated public park locations and participate in self-led physical exercise and play, inspired by the FitPlay letter key. Each letter of the alphabet, A to Z, is associated with a simple exercise most can perform some variation of safely. E.g. A = 10 high knees on the spot.
Participants self-select a word or phrase and perform the exercises associated with each letter. E.g. P A R K D A L E = 10 squats, 10 high knees on the spot, etc. Mix up your FitPlay by choosing a new word, a new park  or a new challenge each time and invite your Parkdale friends and neighbours to do the same.

The band, Neighbourhood Watch produces a pandemic music video by engaging with neighbours in a residential building

Arts and Culture

27 Toronto households — involving more than 60 people and two family dogs — took part in a new music video simply by standing in the windows of their homes and then doing a little dance.

Shop Old Town Toronto: A shop local campaign that splits prize money wins between individuals supporting local businesses & the local business

Local businesses | Main Street | Shop Local

The St. Lawrence BIA and OLD Town have launched a support local campaign. Save & upload receipts of $25 or more (excluding delivery and tip) from local businesses February 8 – April 5, 2021, for multiple chances to win — $500 is for the shopper and $500 for a local business.  In addition there is one grand prize of $2K to be split with local business. Prize money is donated by BMO bank

 

Delivery optimization solution pilot being offered to Toronto restaurants this winter

Food | General: Sector resources | Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership

Through the pilot, Deliverect’s solution will connect UberEats, Doordash, SkipTheDishes, and other delivery companies directly to restaurants’ POS system in order to automate the online order process. Deliverect’s platform aims to alleviate the requirement to have staff maintain multiple tablets for delivery orders, reducing mistakes and wait times for customers. At least 100 independently-owned restaurants are expected to receive free access to the platform for 90 days through the pilot. The program seeks to pilot solutions that target challenges facing main street small businesses.

City of Toronto’s Black Community COVID-19 Response Plan to provide enhanced support for Black Torontonians

General: Tools for engagement | Policy leadership | Public health

Developed as part of the TO Supports: Targeted Equity Action Plan and in response to data released in late 2020 that revealed the highest rates of COVID-19 cases in Toronto (26 per cent) and vaccine hesitancy experienced by Canadians (about 30 per cent) were among Black people of African and Caribbean descent.

To help reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and effectively address the issues around vaccine trust and confidence within Black communities, the City has partnered with community agencies to provide COVID-19 health and safety awareness in Black communities and work with experts to prepare for and support immunization.

Toronto Market Co. is a curated artisanal food market that works with 100+ small vendors to offer a one stop shop & delivery (or pick up from a central depot)

Food | General: Online communities and networks | Local businesses | Main Street | Shop Local

The site is designed to feel like a well curated in-person market. You can see the items available online and they are available for purchase. There is no minimum order required.  How It Works:

1. Shop from over 100 local vendors using one basket.

2. Select contactless pick-up or delivery at checkout

3. After order is placed, vendors are contacted with quantities ordered. Orders must be placed by 11:59PM on Sunday evening to receive pickup/delivery the following Thursday. 4. Thursday orders are delivered or picked up at a central depot.  Pick up order or wait for delivery confirmation notice.

Delivery costs for Central Toronto is $15 flat & and surrounding area $25-30.

Edmonton city council approves $22.9-million tax break grant program for residential developers building downtown

CUIxLocal | CUIxYEG (Edmonton) | Economic Recovery Plans | Main Street | Policy leadership

The program designed to bring growth to the core of the city, eligible projects must be built in a defined “Centre City” area. The incentives include freezing property taxes until 2027. The intent of the program is to provide financial relief for construction projects in the city’s core that might not be able to proceed without that support.

Community organizations have partnered with the City to support neighbours to organize to take action and achieve shared community goals

CUIxLocal | CUIxYEG (Edmonton) | Fundraising and volunteering | General: Online communities and networks | General: Sector resources | General: Tools for engagement | Policy leadership | Social isolation

Abundant Community Edmonton (ACE) is an innovative City initiative that supports neighbours “to organize [their] neighbourhood around the strengths and potential of the people who live there to take action and achieve shared community goals.” The ACE framework is intended to support the work of the Community League by extending its reach to every block through the Block Connector network, ideally activating new volunteers and neighbourhood assets.

Includes a resource guide, templates, role descriptions and other tools.

 

 

Municipal World’s 2020 State of Canadian Municipalities Amid COVID-19 Survey Results

Policy leadership

Municipal World, in partnership with The W Group, conducted a study of municipal leaders across the country to explore the unprecedented challenges, reactions, and solutions that have been experienced during the pandemic. Over 850 municipalities participated, with 50% of respondents representing municipalities with populations of 10,000 or less. 50% of respondents were mid or senior-level management with more than 15 years of experience and 21% were elected officials. All provinces were represented with 52% responding from Ontario, 15% from Alberta, 10% from British Columbia, and 8% from Saskatchewan.

A Model for Cities to use to move towards more local procurement of goods and services

Local businesses | Policy leadership | Shop Local

The City of Albuquerque spends around $400 million a year on purchasing goods and services. About 65 percent of that already goes to local businesses in Albuquerque, including Diverse Office Supply, a partnership of two woman-owned Albuquerque businesses — one a manufacturer of office supplies, where 60 percent of its employees are adults with special needs, and the other a distributor. Albuquerque’s city code already had local and small business preferences in city purchasing for contracts that require a public bidding process. It defines “local” as having a headquarters and principal office in Albuquerque or the surrounding Bernalillo County, and “small” as having fewer than 50 employees. The process targets smaller purchases for local small business vendors that has the additional knock-on effect of tilting the playing field ever-so-slightly in favor of businesses owned by women and people of color.

 

‘Not Uber Eats’ site launches to help Torontonians support local restaurants

Food | Local businesses | Shop Local

“Not-ubereats.com” help people identify nearby restaurants that offer their own delivery service — rather than using high cost delivery apps

East Lansing launches crowdfunding campaign to make safe areas to socialize, shop downtown

Fundraising and volunteering | Main Street | Street activation

East Lansing has launched a crowdfunding campaign in an effort to create safe outdoor areas to socialize and support local businesses downtown. If the campaign raises $50,000 by Feb. 10, the funds will be matched by the Michigan Economic Development Corp.’s Public Spaces Community Places program, according to a news release from the city and MEDC. Additions will include new market space, increased seating options, light installations, art displays and city programming, according to the release.

Embracing Winter with Creative Ways to Stay Outdoors

Arts and Culture | General: Sector resources | Mobility and transportation

So how do we embrace winter, while also being mindful of not attracting big crowds this year? A few key insights from the webinars:

  • Shift the conversation. Let’s talk about stylish winter gear, crisp air and blue skies, powdery snow, and how it’s nice to not get sweaty when riding your bike. Leave the bleak attitude behind. Pretend you are a kid again. Winter can be a delight!
  • Keep the sidewalks clear. As Gil Penalosa said, in all seasons, “sidewalks are the most important infrastructure in any city.” Prioritizing snow removal from sidewalks help make it safe and enjoyable (and always free!) to venture out on foot!
  • Think programs, not events. Events often mean crowds, or a one-time party. This year, ongoing, steady programming will spread out visits and aid in physical distancing (and may also better cater to different ages).
  • Celebrate the season. Winter offers the excuse to warm by a fire pit, sit in the sun, drink a warm beverage, and keep moving to stay warm. Installations and programming that bring in elements that celebrate the season make it all the more special.
  • Get creative. Government has adapted throughout 2020 – allowing things like more outdoor dining – and this type of fresh looks at old regulations is often needed to get creative over the winter.

Winnipeg launches public bathroom project with 3 new temporary facilities

Housing and homelessness | Public health

Three new temporary washroom spaces in Winnipeg opened their doors Tuesday as part of a City of Winnipeg project to make it easier to find a bathroom for people experiencing homelessness. The project, called Places to Go, features three bathroom spaces at 473 Selkirk Ave., 345 Portage Ave. and 26 Osborne St. The locations were chosen in consultation with End Homelessness Winnipeg and other community stakeholders. “The Places to Go strategy is about profound human dignity and making sure that Winnipeg’s most vulnerable among us have access to basic human rights and necessities.

Creative wintery outdoor projects in Winnipeg

Parks and public space

Manitobans built snow maze, ice tower, curling rink and zamboni to smooth river

Pilot project pairs unhoused people with members of faith communities in Oshawa’s bid to tackle homelessness

Fundraising and volunteering | Housing and homelessness

The project, launched earlier this month, is modelled after Canada’s refugee sponsorship program, which played a key role in welcoming Syrian refugees to the country five years ago. That included sponsoring refugees to help them with housing, employment and fostering friendships. Now Oshawa is taking a similar approach to tackling homelessness, mental health issues and addiction.

Albuquerque’s procurement process to benefit local business

Local businesses | Policy leadership | Shop Local

The City of Albuquerque spends around $400 million a year on purchasing goods and services — excluding any CARES Act spending. About 65 percent of that already goes to local businesses in Albuquerque, including Diverse Office Supply, a partnership of two woman-owned Albuquerque businesses — one a manufacturer of office supplies, where 60 percent of its employees are adults with special needs, and the other a distributor. The partnership took on a $5 million-a-year contract with the city in 2019 that was previously held by a Florida-based supplier.

Town of Canmore’s Economic Recovery Plan backed by $281,000 in funding that focuses on business retention and survival during and post-pandemic.

Economic Recovery Plans | Local businesses

The Plan is being rolled out and the website specifies the progress being made across each pillar.

Canmore is a small town (14,000 population) located in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains

Downtown Safety: Oxford Properties in Edmonton has shifted from a policing and enforcement model of mall security to a compassion- and trauma-informed approach

CUIxLocal | CUIxYEG (Edmonton) | Main Street | Mental health

Edmonton City Centre is located in Downtown Edmonton and sees a million visitors each year. Some of those guests have experienced or are experiencing significant trauma in their lives. They may be living with the scars of adverse childhood events (ACES) or they may have fallen on hard times, unable to find work or housing; many are living with serious mental illness and its constant and debilitating companions – stigma and discrimination. And, many rely on substances to ease the pain of it all. For these people, the mall can be a sanctuary.

One of the ways Oxford Properties formalized its new approach was to work with its security team at Paladin Security to create and offer training called “Compassion to Action”. This one-day training focuses on moving from “protection to connection” and trauma informed care (TIC), which encourages understanding people through the lens of “What happened to you?”, rather than“What’s wrong with you?”. TIC also emphasizes understanding how what has happened to people shapes who they are today and how they behave. This includes learning about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), what to look for, how to create an environment of engagement, and how to connect with people who have experienced trauma in their lives. Practical advice about connecting with local agencies is also included. Finally, the training helps participants learn how to keep one’s mind “solid” when responding to traumatic events such as deaths by suicide; how to protect and maintain one’s own mental health; and, how to ask for help when needed.

Tulsa Remote is a recruitment initiative for remote workers aimed at attracting talent to Tulsa

Policy leadership

The program brings remote workers and digital nomads to the community by providing $10,000 grants and community-building opportunities. Those interested go through a competitive application process and provided with $10,000 in installments over the course of a year, plus cheap housing and an upgraded social infrastructure.

The program reflects a new economic development strategy that Tulsa is among the first to pilot. Citylab wrote about it here: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2020-02-28/the-great-tulsa-remote-worker-experiment

Free shopper tool during COVID-19

Local businesses | Shop Local

Find local businesses OPEN for WALK-IN, PICKUP or DELIVERY. Searchable, mobile-friendly directory and map of Greater Toronto area stores.

Black Owned Toronto is an online platform dedicated to highlighting Black owned businesses.

General: Online communities and networks | Local businesses | Main Street | Shop Local

Often times it is very difficult to find Black-owned businesses in the city. This is a one stop shop for all shopping/service needs. This is also a great way to buy locally, and support the city’s economy!

‘Not Amazon’ is a website of (mostly) user-submitted small businesses to support across 4 Canadian cities and growing

General: Online communities and networks | Local businesses | Main Street | Shop Local

The site operates like an online mall directory of exclusively independent businesses throughout the cities and online. Currently featuring thousands of shops in Toronto, Halifax, Calgary and Vancouver. It is free to submit a local business. You can search or just browse around by category: handmade, spirits, coffee & tea, stationery, music, home decor, vintage and more. Black and Indigenous-owned businesses and businesses owned by people of colour and people with disabilities are featured.

Next for Not-Amazon is to expand to more cities. People from other cities in Canada have volunteered to collect initial lists of businesses, which the website will then convert into the Not-Amazon website. Hamilton and Ottawa are next.

 

A group of girls from the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) are creating a gender-based violence mural that uses augmented reality

Arts and Culture | CUIxLocal | CUIxYYC (Calgary) | Children
When you scan the mural, an honour song & images appear

Monthly meetings explore and share compassion, lived experiences, and strengthening of “compassion muscles” through evidence-informed practices from psychology, neuroscience, and contemplative traditions.

CUIxLocal | CUIxYYC (Calgary) | General: Online communities and networks

Calgary’s Glenbow Museum has put out a call for letters, postcards, emails, illustrations and social media posts from Calgarians to get a picture of life during COVID-19.

Arts and Culture | CUIxLocal | CUIxYYC (Calgary)

Dear Glenbow asks participants to answer specific questions, including: What is your life like right now? Is there an object, an activity, a routine or a person that is important to you right now? What do you hope to remember about this experience? What do you think is important for our future selves or our descendants to understand or learn from this time in our lives?

Dear Glenbow is one of a number of COVID-19 initiatives underway by museums in Canada and the U.S. The Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, for instance, has begun collecting artifacts that reflect life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letters and other communication gathered as part of Dear Glenbow will make up an archive that will hopefully spark other projects by artists and historians, both in the near and distant future.

Calgary business network is offering Calgarians a $79 gift card to anyone who cancels their Amazon Prime membership

CUIxLocal | CUIxYYC (Calgary) | Local businesses | Main Street

To motivate Calgarians to buy from locally-owned and operated shops, the 200 member business network will give a $79 gift card to anyone who cancels their Amazon Prime membership. That’s the price of an annual Amazon Prime membership. “We really want to remind Calgarians that even though they may be doing more online shopping this Christmas, that they can still support local,” said Meredith Perich, social business coordinator with Momentum, the organization behind the Be Local YYC network.

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