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 Winter Dining Challenge

General: Crowdsourced tools and resources | Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership | Re-opening

To date, Chicago has received more than 640 submissions with winter outdoor dining solutions aiming to help restaurants as safety concerns restrict indoor dining during the pandemic. In August, the city announced a contest as fall approached with winter’s chill lurking. Restaurants — in lieu of a governmental industry-specific bailout — are searching for creative ways to continue outdoor dining season and keep their businesses afloat.

The Boston Society for Architecture (BSA) and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA) are organizing members to volunteer conceptual design assistance that can help local restaurants design or redesign outdoor seating and also help think about how to redesign interior spaces to respond to evolving COVID-related standards.

Fundraising and volunteering | General: Crowdsourced tools and resources | Local businesses | Main Street | Re-opening

Volunteers needed to provide design assistance to help local restaurants and small businesses re-imagine their open spaces.

Winter Activation Ideas for Main Streets & Neighborhoods During COVID19

General: Crowdsourced tools and resources | General: Sector resources | Local businesses | Main Street | Parks and public space | Policy leadership | Street activation

As COVID19 restrictions and public safety concerns limit indoor activities, restaurants, entertainment, public events, social gatherings and more have turned to the outdoors. This has been a great lifeline during the spring and summer but will become challenging during the colder, darker winter months. This program seeks ideas and designs for quickly implementable, low cost interventions to drive visitors back to Main Street that will encourage them to stay longer and patronize area restaurants and businesses. Final designs will then be published in an open-source “Winter Places” activation guide book with full credit given to the respective designers.

Black Foodie Week aims to ‘bring joy’ to Toronto while also highlighting how Black food culture is tied to social justice

Food | Local businesses | Main Street

Running until Sept. 27, the inaugural Black Foodie Week is a free virtual event promoting Afro-Caribbean cooking in the city with the goal of getting people to eat good food, and support Black-owned businesses during COVID-19

Torontonians are encouraged to safely explore ShowLoveTO and follow COVID-19 safety measures to help reduce the virus spread. Learn about what to expect and what is required as you begin to visit establishments and take part in ShowLoveTO activities.

Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership

Toronto is ready to welcome us back. From hitting the patio to supporting local art, restaurants and shops, it’s time to get out and do the things we love. Experience ActiveTO’s newly expanded cycling network, BigArtTO’s digital art projections. Dine out on countless CafeTO pop-up patios and find hidden gems all over the city with StrollTO’s new exploration guides. Because when we shine, our city shines. And when we do the things we love, we #ShowLoveTO.

Supporting main streets in Quebec City through “Solidarity Dollars” to alleviate the precariousness of businesses during COVID19.

Fundraising and volunteering | Local businesses | Main Street

This group has created a local currency so that the contributors’ investment can be returned directly to participating businesses. This currency will be available in paper or digital form through the Wyse Wallet app. 
The project will consolidate the achievements of the commercial arteries and allow citizens to participate concretely in the recovery by investing in hyperlocal entrepreneurship. Let us be # solidairespournosartères!

Downtown Edmonton launches Annual Report focused on how it can continue to recover, adapt and grow through COVID-19 and beyond

Economic Recovery Plans | Local businesses | Main Street | Re-opening

Research and interviews conducted with Downtown stakeholders between May and August revealed four key drivers of community resiliency, select issues that impact those drivers, proven strategies to
overcome those issues and business examples showcasing those strategies in action.
ʃ Fostering Innovation
ʃ Enhancing Inclusivity
ʃ Strengthening Cultural Vitality
ʃ Developing Interconnectivity

Downtown Live, an initiative headed by Edmonton’s Downtown Business Association, was created to give Edmontonians an option to be outside and enjoy themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic days.

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

It is also a chance for downtown business owners to draw an audience.

The City of Melbourne & the State launch $100 million city recovery fund that would offer practical support to small and medium-sized business, and the arts and cultural communities.

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

The city recovery package focuses on outdoor trading, increased marketing, events and entertainment to attract workers and visitors back to the city. Town Hall will also waive permit fees, and the funding will pay for vacant shopfronts to be used for art installations and pop-ups.

Every One Every day provides space, platform & resources to share project or business ideas to make their neighbourhood better.

Arts and Culture | General: Online communities and networks | General: Sector resources | General: Tools for engagement | Main Street | Street activation

Every One Every Day builds on the ‘hands on’ projects that people have been creating over the last few years in their own neighbourhoods. These types of projects welcome people from all walks of life.

• Sharing skills, spaces and resources.• Families working and playing more together. • Batch cooking and community meals. • Food growing and tree planting. • Trading, making and repairing.

The team will make things very simple – including:

  • Find you useful spaces for the projects (kitchens, workshops storage spaces etc.)

  • Supplying materials and equipment for practical activities – no form filling for grants.

  • By arranging insurances and health and safety.

  • Holding festivals, workshops and business programmes.

A project designed to help artists and small businesses sell their wares online is coming to Calgary with the help of Google Canada’s ShopHERE program.

Arts and Culture | Income support | Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership | Street activation

The City of Calgary announced Thursday it will work with Google Canada to help 90 artists and small businesses set up an online marketplace with the help of MBA students. Applications are open to small, independent businesses that are registered, have a commercial or home-based location, have fewer than 10 employees — or fewer than 25 if a restaurant or bar — and is not a corporate chain or franchise. All artists are also welcome to apply.

The City of Montreal buys building through using its right to preemption to create social housing

Housing and homelessness | Policy leadership

A large vacant building in the Parc-Extension district will be converted to forty social housing units. The City acquired the building by canceling a real estate transaction that did not fit with its vision for the development of the area. Thus, the Plaza Hutchison, located a stone’s throw from the Parc metro station, now belongs to the City of Montreal, which acquired it for $ 6.5 million. The sale of the five-story building, which has long housed community groups, was authorized by the executive committee on Wednesday morning behind closed doors.

The POST Promise is a training & education platform which results in a voluntary declaration from a business to its customers and employees. It’s a simple and easy way to show that a business is taking steps to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Economic Recovery Plans | General: Sector resources | Local businesses | Main Street | Public health | Re-opening | physical distancing

The POST Promise signifies a commitment to implement and practice the five key steps to workplace safety, helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s supported by many of the largest associations in Canada, which represent thousands of businesses. The objective is to have businesses across the country take part in a collective solution to help Canadians confidently and safely take the first steps back into public spaces and the workplace.

Winterlab is a Quebec-based initiative to create winter city conditions

General: Sector resources | Local businesses | Main Street | Mobility and transportation | Parks and public space | Public health | Re-opening | Street activation

This winter will be special and the solution to isolation will be through the design of a multitude of small places that we will want to frequent despite the cold. From now on, let’s buy good boots and a suitable coat in our local shops, because let’s hope that the next winter can be one of the places where we can create human warmth.

The City of Chicago is seeking solutions to stimulate and encourage safe outdoor dining, for both customers and restaurant/bar staff, during cold weather months

Economic Recovery Plans | General: Crowdsourced tools and resources | General: Sector resources | Local businesses | Main Street | Re-opening
  • Solutions must be centered around facilitating in-person outdoor dining experiences, rather than delivery or take out
  • Solutions may relate to physical space as well as operations/service
  • Winning solutions are eligible to receive a $5,000 cash prize.  A total of three winners will be chosen.
  • Selected ideas are eligible to access potential piloting opportunities that will be funded by corporate sponsors. Building on the success of the outdoor dining program, the City of Chicago will be piloting this in many areas, including those in the INVEST South/West program for prototyping.

Property tax relief offered for 45 live music venues impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

Arts and Culture | Income support | Local businesses | Main Street | Policy leadership

Toronto’s live music venues contribute greatly to the city’s cultural, social and economic fabric. These venues require critical support in the face of ongoing pressures that have been intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic. City Council expanded the Creative Co-Location Facilities Property Tax Subclass to provide property tax relief for live music venues. As a result of this decision, properties that meet specific criteria are eligible to receive property tax relief of up to 50 per cent for the qualifying areas of the building. Immediately following this expansion in May, the City began accepting applications from live music venue operators. The deadline for applications was June 19. This relief measure will be implemented through the final supplementary property tax notices that will be issued in the fall. City staff will analyze the impact of this cost-saving measure for live music venues and report to Council in 2021. This measure is intended to remain in place beyond this year to support the long-term viability of Toronto’s live music sector.

City of Brampton provides rent relief to tenants and non-profit organizations in City-owned facilities in response to COVID-19

Housing and homelessness | Policy leadership

The City of Brampton will defer rent payments for its not-for-profit and small for-profit tenants for a period of three months, and waive payments for its non-profit tenants who are unable to access new Federal programs, for a period of 3 months. This relief will support more than half of the City’s 81 tenants.

In Winnipeg, the conversion of a parking lot offers a European style open air dining and drinking experience in the heart of the Exchange District

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

A restaurant owner coordinated the smart phone food ordering system, which has Patio “runners” deployed to pick up orders and deliver them right to the table.

A non-profit launched a public toilet project, tasking well-known architects to renovate public toilets in Tokyo’s public parks

Parks and public space | Public health

The mission was to apply innovative design to make public bathrooms accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age or disability, so that people feel comfortable using public toilets and to foster a spirit of hospitality

DineOut Tool Kit is a downloadable dining module for street patios developed in NYC

Local businesses | Main Street | Re-opening | Street activation | physical distancing

Launched at the iconic Melba’s Restaurant in Harlem, the prototype can accommodate a range of restaurants and street conditions. DineOut NYC is being deployed at restaurants and bars in diverse neighborhoods across the five boroughs, using parking spaces and sidewalks.

A group of small businesses get together to finances to create and manage a new community patio, beer garden and food hub for physical distancing in a parking lot

Food | Local businesses | Main Street | Re-opening | Street activation | physical distancing

Called Gerrard East Market, it comes with two decks, picnic tables, umbrellas, an outdoor screen showing sports, lighting and 22 tonnes of sand.

We Are Santa Fe Safe is helping local businesses to be COVID-safe through an easy to use program toolkit, step-by-step infographic, COVID-safe cheat sheet (and additional resources list), employee survey, marketing and PR tips, and social media assets

General: Sector resources | Local businesses | Main Street | Re-opening

It’s a program any business can benefit from no matter where the are in their COVID-reopening journey. The strategy focuses on employees as advocacy champions because when employees feel able to come back to work safely, their positive attitude will inspire customers to return. Business owners and managers must make good on that promise and commit to an appropriate action plan that keeps their workplace safe. Employees are given an option to play a big role in our initiative, too. Through simple how-to’s Employees are invited to record a 10-20 second video about the steps their workplace has taken to protect them, which the program will share on social media channels to help promote the business.

Floral production reduced at Vancouver Park Board nursery and instead growing low-maintenance vegetables for non-profit organizations that provide food for families in need.

Food | Parks and public space | Policy leadership

The food is distributed to hundreds of families through the Fresh Roots and Grandview Woodland Food Connection programs. The park board is also growing vegetables at the city’s golf courses and at Van Dusen Gardens, although the nursery is the biggest supplier.

The High Streets Adaptive Strategies guide is part of the Mayor of London’s Good Growth by Design programme and emphasises the public value of high streets and town centres, while showcasing the innovative work taking place to adapt them in the face of significant change and why we should continue to invest in them.

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

Rather than focusing on just return on investment from the uplift in spending, productivity and land values, London’s “High Streets for All” is about investment based on the social value of high streets & capacity to address inequality

In Edmonton, outdoor library services set up for homeless

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

The Edmonton Public Library is taking some of its operations outside to give the city’s homeless a place to read books and magazines, use a laptop computer or participate in adult classes. Called EPL on the Square, the pilot project has three designated areas in Sir Winston Churchill Square for outdoor library services. The initiative is a collaboration between EPL and the City of Edmonton, was launched five days after the Edmonton EXPO Centre closed as a temporary drop-in day shelter. The city, social agencies and the province have been working on a plan to find hundreds of physically distanced spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic since the EXPO closed.

Halifax Public Libraries encouraging people to get outside

Policy leadership

The Halifax Public Libraries have made changes so working outside is more attractive. This includes pushing the public WiFi out into the fresh air and providing seating to reduce the likelihood of congestion; allowing borrowed electronic devices like Chromebooks and iPads to leave the building. “When they sign that iPad out, they can actually go take that outside now, and they can sit outside and use the free WiFi and use the library’s iPad to access information, or to watch a film or read an ebook,” says Kachen.

Halifax Public Libraries and Museums offer free reusable cloth masks to those without access

Policy leadership | Public health

Each person can request up to two masks per immediate family member. They’re adjustable and come in both adult and youth sizes.

Free Internet Connectivity Kits from the Library provide vital connection for some of Toronto’s most vulnerable residents

Policy leadership

Toronto Public Library (TPL), in partnership with Renewed Computer Technology and with support from the Toronto Public Library Foundation, recently launched its Internet Connectivity Kit program. The initiative provides vital connections for some of our city’s most vulnerable residents by equipping them with a free laptop and WiFi hotspot with four months of unlimited data. Participants will keep the laptop and Wi-Fi hotspot at the end of the program.

Toronto Public Library to offer free WiFi in two parks The city is teaming with the library to give residents free internet access in neighbourhoods hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic

Parks and public space | Policy leadership

The week-long pilot project Wi-Fi on Wheels begins on August 4. The Toronto Public Library’s bookmobile will travel to two parks in areas hit hard by the pandemic and provide free internet during the afternoon. Anyone can bring their own device to the park to connect or temporarily use a city device. City devices will be sanitized between use and staff will assess users to ensure they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Toronto Public Health data shows that the northwest parts of the city are being most affected during the coronavirus pandemic. As of the weekend, the Jane and Finch and Rexdale areas had 511 and 496 cases, respectively.

All the things the library has done for Halifax residents since shutting its doors for COVID-19: the city’s unofficial social worker.

Policy leadership

Here’s a list of what Halifax Public Libraries has been able to do so far:

  • Reorganized website to prioritize virtual services and brought whole programs online through the Virtual Library.
  • Upgraded the E-Library to make in-branch services like PressReader and Ancestry available at home; introduced new online resources like Kanopy, RomanceBookCloud, Public Library Online and TumbleBooksMath.
  • Set up an Ask the Library phone line to connect with and provide assistance to our community.
  • Provided snack packs for families
  • Loaned community organizations some technology items, including wifi hotspots and Chromebooks to a couple of shelters, and books and games to a children’s service provider.
  • Set up portable toilets at Halifax Central Library
  • Worked with Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP) to offer virtual tax clinics
  • Shifted staff to lead content for the Human Library Videos (storytime, how-to’s), social media and website blogs.

Be a CityShare contributor

We want to hear from you on what’s working, what’s not and what’s next in your community.

Send us your initiative contributions here.

Nous connectons les personnes, les lieux et le potentiel

Branchez-vous à nous ici :Contact usFacebookTwitter

Pin It on Pinterest