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



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

A Toronto restaurant has put fridges out front that are full of free food and accessible 24 hours a day to address issues of food insecurity in the local community.

Food | Local businesses | Main Street

So far, the fridges out in front of Ten are filled with neatly organized healthy produce as well as dried goods, bread and milk. Guidelines posted in the Instagram story of an official account connected to the fridge project instruct donors on how to neatly place their donations, and not to donate anything they wouldn’t buy at the store themselves.


Ideas for cities to prepare for COVID winter

Main Street | Parks and public space | Policy leadership

Among the lessons we take from COVID-19 should be the importance of preventing disconnection and improving health outcomes in our cities through more thoughtful investment in our civic commons. We are more aware than ever of the importance of spending time outside for both physical and mental well-being. Beyond providing better access to warm clothing and adequate housing in the winter, this post describes ways that we can make winter more liveable by making our outdoor spaces more inviting, so that we can create community and vibrancy post-pandemic and year-round.

Ville d’Hiver is a tool for decision-makers, professionals and citizens who wish to contribute to better adapting communities to the winter reality through the development of public spaces, universal accessibility and street furniture.

Local businesses | Main Street | Street activation

Active design in a winter context aims to take into account the characteristics and constraints imposed by the cold season on the experience lived in public spaces. The objective is to develop local living environments that promote the practice of physical activity, break through isolation and reveal the identity and inclusive nature of winter.

The guide is available in French for download free of charge.


#SmallBusinessEveryDay is an initiative to encourage supporting local small businesses

Local businesses | Main Street | Shop Local

Parks activation tactical toolkit for outdoor dining

Local businesses | Main Street | Parks and public space | Street activation

Bars and restaurants will take their operations to the streets this summer, under a multi-million dollar package designed to prop up Melbourne’s ailing hospitality sector.

Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership | Street activation

Another $30 million will go towards running events and cultural activities safely over coming months, offering a much-needed salve to Melbourne’s arts community.

Urban Canvas Project beautifies Regina alleys

Arts and Culture | Local businesses | Main Street | Street activation

The Regina Downtown Business Improvement District unveiled the 2020 edition of the Urban Canvas project.

13 artists were selected to produce a unique design for doors in the back alley between Hamilton and Scarth Streets in Regina’s downtown.

Calgary Dollars enable you to Earn, Buy, Sell, and Exchange

Local businesses | Main Street

Post ads, earn rewards, and be local!

Local Dollars, an app based platform, helps people to purchase from local businesses and recirculate funds in community.

Local businesses | Main Street | Shop Local

Based in Manitoba

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