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



Digital toolkit featuring designs, guidelines, and strategies to aid safe reopening and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local businesses | Main Street | Parks and public space | Re-opening | Street activation | physical distancing

Each tool you find here was created by neighborhood-specific coalitions of community organizations, architects, engineers, lawyers, and planners. They came together as part of Neighborhoods Now, a rapid-response initiative launched by New York-based nonprofits Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute. This site will continue to be updated with additional designs and strategies from the Neighborhoods Now working groups over time. Detailed reports from each group, posted on the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute websites, provide full context for each resource and greater insight into this collaborative, community-led process.

The Back Pack Project support people experiencing homelessness throughout The Greater Victoria Region this fall and winter.

Housing and homelessness

Contributions will help bring warmth and hope and dignity to marginalized people

A community bulletin board in Nanaimo features stories and artwork by homeless creatives, along with news, announcements and a map of local services, the bulletin board is a point of information and connection for those without internet access.

Housing and homelessness

The Word On The Street bulletin board is also a place for important news and community announcements, accessible 24-7 in the bookstore window. People without access to the internet can find weekly headlines, jokes and a map of local services. Community agencies can submit program updates or information on events and opportunities, to be added to the display. Send your announcements to [email protected], tell your clients about this resource and stop by to check out the board! Literacy Central Vancouver Island, 19 Commercial Street, downtown Nanaimo.

Moving Hope is a not-for-profit to help people experiencing homelessness

Fundraising and volunteering | Housing and homelessness | Public health

A team of some 50 volunteers have been putting together hygiene kits and distributing them every night to the growing number of people sleeping in encampments and on Toronto’s streets

Edmonton Entrepreneurs Making a Difference

Food | Local businesses | Main Street

Independently owned restaurants, service businesses, retailers, tour operators and experience providers have continued to make Edmonton a place to be proud of, even when business could no longer operate as usual. In fact, many of Edmonton’s trailblazing entrepreneurs have found a way to give back to the community while working to keep their local businesses afloat during these uncertain times. Read on to learn more about the inspiring Edmontonians behind local businesses, and how they are stepping up through creative thinking and a spirit of community. Click here for even more entrepreneurs who are making a difference.

More than a Pub is a program providing business development support to enable the community control of pubs in both rural and urban communities across England.

Fundraising and volunteering | Local businesses | Main Street

Want to take ownership of your local pub and run it for the benefit of the community? Need help getting it into community hands? Funded by Power to Change and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and led by the Plunkett Foundation, the More than a Pub programme has taken over 800 enquiries and supported 58 pubs in to community control. During the covid-19 lockdown the MTAP programme provided small grants to around half of the community pubs in England.

A new collective is helping to make Nova Scotia’s brewing industry more diverse and inclusive.

Food | Local businesses | Main Street

The Change is Brewing Collective aims to give people who are underrepresented in the sector a voice, and help those interested in making beer enter the industry. Half of the proceeds from the Blackberry Freedom beer will be donated to the Blxckhouse, a North Preston-based youth program, and the YMCA on Gottingen Street in Halifax.

In BC, the Province is temporarily allowing restaurants and pubs to purchase beer, wine and spirits at wholesale cost instead of liquor store retail prices

Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership

The temporary authorization will remain in effect until March 31, 2021. A provincial review of the program during this temporary reform will help government determine the financial costs and benefits of the change.

Results from surveys of Montreal’s pedestrian streets and “pandemic tracks” show that residents are in favour

Local businesses | Main Street | Mobility and transportation | Policy leadership | Street activation

The City conducted a web survey & also randomly interviewed people in the street. The “pandemic tracks”, these protected cycle paths installed on major arteries in the city, have garnered a very high level of support to the tune of 80%+, despite demonstrations by businesses in some spots. The pedestrianization of certain commercial arteries for the summer period was also greatly appreciated, shows the same survey – between 74 to 83%.This includes the allowances made so that restaurant owners could enlarge their terraces to enable more outdoor seating. 

The City of Chicago’s 2020 Winter Dining Challenge: the 60 Innovative Designs

Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership

A jury evaluated the submissions based on feasibility, accessibility, health considerations, material and installation costs, inclusivity, climate comfort, sustainability, and flexibility. A key design principle is making sure the finalists are not only scalable for large and small establishments, but also cost effective for businesses already struggling from the impact of the pandemic. Running a restaurant in the time of COVID requires creativity and consistency to keep everyone healthy. Still, a willingness to pivot and try new off-premise options will help operators execute these restaurant innovations for COVID and stay afloat.

City of Chicago’s Fall & Winter COVID-19 Outdoor Dining Guidance

Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership | physical distancing

The City of Chicago has prepared a one page guidance document for restaurants and bars to continue operating outdoors safely and responsibly.

Toronto After the First Wave: Measuring Urban Vibrancy in a Pandemic is a student research project looking to document the urban experience in Toronto beyond the first wave of the pandemic in Fall 2020.

Economic Recovery Plans | General: Sector resources

Over the next 2 months, Toronto After the First Wave: Measuring Urban Vibrancy in a Pandemic will track the continuing impacts of COVID-19 on the city and Toronto’s road to recovery with respect to public health, prosperity and public life.

Jersey City Parklet Program includes a downloadable parklet guide with detailed specifications that can be used in other locales

General: Sector resources | Local businesses | Main Street | Parks and public space | Public health

Jersey City has worked with the business and residential communities to install temporary parklets throughout the City. To aid local businesses during COVID-19, Jersey City has expanded its Parklet Program by allowing restaurants to apply for parklets to expand outdoor seating. If you are interested in installing a parklet in the parking space in front of your business, please review the Jersey City Parklet Guide and submit an application.  To view the parklets installed in 2020, please refer to our online map. To learn more about the City’s efforts to help local businesses, please visit

PlaceMakers Pandemic Response Compendium

General: Crowdsourced tools and resources | General: Sector resources | General: Tools for engagement | Main Street | Public health | Street activation | physical distancing

A crowdsourced google document that compiles policy, zoning, design, toolkits, & other interventions to support public health & economic recovery. Managed by Hazel Borys [email protected], Scott Bernstein [email protected] & Jason Syvixay [email protected]

The Power of Place Covid City Stories

General: Online communities and networks | Public health

A page dedicated to our collective response to Covid’s impact on the public realm and public life, including writings and a “podcast” – #CovidCityStories – a curated collection of audio stories from citymakers all over the world. Find out more about our initiative and record your audio stories of life in the trenches of this pandemic from the lens of a citymaker.

Montreal setting aside $400,000 for urban design and cultural activities in a bid to lure visitors downtown

Arts and Culture | Economic Recovery Plans | Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership | Re-opening | Street activation | physical distancing

Measures include:

  • Several public spaces will be redesigned in keeping with health guidelines, with 1,000 low-cost parking spaces made available at Complexe Desjardins and Palais des congrès to entice drivers.
  • Seven large terrasses and public squares will be set up at locations such as Jardins du Centre St-Jax, Place d’Youville and the corner of St-Laurent and René-Lévesque Blvds.
  • Pop-up performances — from live music to circus acts and mobile cabaret — will take place on weekends in various locations from Thursday through Oct. 15. More than 150 artists will be involved in giving roughly 200 surprise performances.
  • Discounts on various attractions, hotels and restaurants will be offered via the website.

A restaurant in St. Jacobs, ON is using domes on their outdoor patio to keep patrons warm and physically distanced for colder weather

Local businesses | Main Street | physical distancing

Patrons are confined within a social bubble inside of the dome. Each dome can hold up to eight people and no mixing of social bubbles are allowed.

Meeting the Meal Gap: How Drop-ins Addressed Food Insecurity During the Pandemic

Frontline services

This report documents how drop-ins across Toronto stretched and pivoted to respond to the intensification of the food and water needs for people in the communities they traditionally work with, as well as for people who were new to drop-in spaces. At its core, it seeks to make visible the life-saving work of drop-ins.

Adapting Public Spaces During COVID-19: 3 Examples of Tactical Urbanism Projects

Local businesses | Main Street | Mobility and transportation | Parks and public space | Policy leadership | Street activation

Tampa restaurants and retail businesses can expand their exterior business footprint into privately-owned and public space without having to go through a full application and permitting process or pay a fee.

Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership | physical distancing

During this time, the City will suspend certain code and permit requirements to enable greater use of outdoor space for dining and retail patrons. Safety and accessibility requirements still apply. Details of the specific guidance are available in the LiftUp Local Guidebook for Phase 3.

Tactical Urbanist Responses to COVID-19

Main Street | Mobility and transportation

Some communities have turned to tactical urbanism to adapt our infrastructure, accommodate safe physical distancing, and support a new kind of public life. Here’s how:

Urban Interventions to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 and Improve Public Health in the Long Term

Local businesses | Main Street | Mobility and transportation | Parks and public space | Policy leadership | Public health

Tactical urbanism interventions designed to slow the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus also improve air quality, reduce noise levels, encourage physical activity, reduce the risk of traffic accidents, benefit mental health and prevent non-communicable diseases. They also promote social equity—provided that the health of vulnerable populations and essential workers is prioritised—and can reduce the demand for health services.

City of Ottawa extending patio season to December 31

Local businesses | Main Street | Street activation

The city is coming up with a plan for winter that will see snowbanks removed quicker than usual in high-traffic curbside pickup areas, such as Wellington West, Montreal Road, Elgin Street, St. Joseph Boulevard and Bank Street.

Short video showing impact of moving a couple from an encampent to supportive housing

Housing and homelessness

Produced by Mary Wiens, this is a 9 minute video.

Sudbury’s neighbourhoods invited to be more neighbourly

General: Online communities and networks | Social isolation

As we enter the seventh month of the pandemic and days shorten, small tokens of kindness help us connect and support each other, coalition says

Six approaches to improving the look and feel of the city centre of Bradford (UK).

Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership | Re-opening | Street activation
  1. Use empty retail spaces and 1st & 2nd floors to encourage independent shops and to incubate a recycle, repair and regenerate artisanal industry to create a healthy mix of well-designed work/live spaces.
  2. Use available micro spaces to set up pocket parks, as in cities such as Tokyo, Barcelona and San Francisco.
  3. Convert more streets to pedestrian use only, widen pavements on shared streets, and create better links to public transport.
  4. Strengthen alliances with other like-minded groups in Bradford to engage with Council to ensure a generous level of consultation well before important planning decisions are made.
  5. Work with community groups in Bradford to create activity spaces that can be enjoyed by all the city’s communities.
  6. Join with other groups to exchange ideas and learn from experiences.

How have UK-based business improvement districts responded to COVID-19?

General: Sector resources | Learning and education | Local businesses | Main Street

This UK-based report aims to give Business Improvement Districts information on how the industry has responded during the COVID-19 epidemic, allow individual BID managers to learn from the experiences of the industry across the country, visualize and then enable planning for the changed business environment in the ‘new normal’, and leverage change with local and national government to allow for further development of BIDs, both within their locations and across the UK.

Design for Distancing installations encourage social distancing in fun, artsy ways in Baltimore’s commercial districts

Local businesses | Main Street | Street activation | physical distancing

Station North is designated as an arts district in Baltimore, known for its restaurants, theaters and art galleries. A patio installation has been created to be used as outdoor dining space for the nearby restaurants. There’s also a bright blue promenade behind the seating area so people can walk around diners, instead of weaving their way through tables set up on the sidewalk.

$1.1M committed for public washrooms in Downtown Eastside Vancouver

Housing and homelessness | Parks and public space | Policy leadership | Public health

Public spaces in downtown Vancouver becoming washrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic, as homeless residents ‘have no other options’

Crowdsourced list of Black Owned Businesses & Restaurants Open in the Toronto area during COVID

General: Crowdsourced tools and resources | Local businesses | Main Street

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