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.
Municipal World’s 2020 State of Canadian Municipalities Amid COVID-19 Survey Results
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Monthly meetings explore and share compassion, lived experiences, and strengthening of “compassion muscles” through evidence-informed practices from psychology, neuroscience, and contemplative traditions.
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.
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
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.
RISE UP Calgary is a local initiative created to kick start economic recovery for Calgary’s arts sector. It is an open-source campaign that unites arts, hospitality and tourism partners to develop a comprehensive array of initiatives and plans for relaunch by building the best possible conditions for success for audiences and artists.
As part of programming, a series of relaunch lunches are planned to connect industry professionals and give them an opportunity to network, share ideas, and look for ways to collaborate on COVID recovery planning.
The Calgary Public Library will have a paid Indigenous Artist in Residence in 2021
Additionally, in partnership with Calgary Arts Development, the Indigenous Artist in Residence will also receive the Indigenous Artist Award, sponsored by TD Bank Group, which includes a cash prize. This residency aims to recognize the contribution of Indigenous artists, craftspeople and knowledge keepers to Calgary. In response to the calls of action in The City of Calgary’s White Goose Flying Report, the library seeks to honour Indigenous cultures and to promote intercultural understanding, perspective-taking, and communication between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. The residency aims to create a supportive environment for artists in Calgary to have time and space to create their own work while introducing Library patrons to artists and art forms they may not otherwise experience. Community engagement events, such as lectures and workshops, and regular open studio hours provide the public with opportunities to meet artists, observe the artistic process, and participate in artmaking.
Salvation Army to provide showers for people sheltering in city parks
After struggling with the problem of providing showers to people living in city parks, the City of Victoria has found a solution. The city will provide a grant to the Salvation Army for a mobile shower trailer. The non-profit agency will receive $86,500 to establish mobile shower facilities that will operate five days a week. The shower trailer will move between the sites of homeless encampments in city parks. The trailer can be driven around the city so people who are living outside who don’t have access to the most basic need will be able to (shower). With the Salvation Army stepping up and the city funding the project, people will be able to have showers at various encampments.
Park People has prepared this planning guide to assist you in delivering safe and successful face-to-face programs during this challenging period of Covid-19.
Guidelines for safe, happy and fun park programming during COVID-19. Here is a simple checklist that might be used by park leaders, volunteers and participants before any event: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/95f0-Survey-Screening-poster-TPH.pdf
“Edmonton City as Museum Project” tells the stories of the PEOPLE, PLACES, THINGS, and MOMENTS that make Edmonton
Launched in 2013, the Edmonton City as Museum Project (ECAMP) is an initiative of the Edmonton Heritage Council that explores the history of our city through story. The stories that connect us, the stories that divide us, and the stories that nurture an appreciation of our differences as Edmontonians. Rather than housing these stories in a physical museum complete with hushed galleries, curated exhibits and tangible objects, ECAMP is a virtual & floating entity that exists throughout Edmonton, offering both online and in-person heritage experiences.
The ECAMP podcast explores Edmonton’s stories in a format that can keep you company during your commute on the LRT, while you shovel the front walk, or during a walk the river valley.
The ECAMP story collection explores the People, Places, Things, & Moments significant to our city’s history as told from the perspectives of Edmontonians. At the moment, ECAMP is prioritizing histories that, in the past, have been excluded from representations of Edmonton’s history. Explore our featured story collections.
Our ECAMP events bring these stories to life, situating the history of this place in our everyday experiences and connecting those stories to where they actually happened. Past ECAMP events include the Curiosities Bus Tours, Float Yer Boat: River Curiosity Tours, Brew-Curious-YEGs Brewing History Tours, online ECAMPing Trips, pop-up museums, and panel talks.
The 9 Block program is a collaboration between City of Calgary, University of Calgary and the Downtown Calgary business improvement area looking at ways to improve the area around Calgary City Hall
Horizon Housing repurposes and adapts space to create affordable housing in Calgary
HH provides affordable, integrated, supportive homes to low income families and individuals with special needs, including those living with mental health or mobility challenges.
The city is putting temporary fire pits and free wood in several parks around Calgary to encourage people to socialize safely as cases of the coronavirus continue to spike.
The small, residential-sized fire pits have been set up in community parks across the city. They’re free to use from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. any day of the week. Priority will be given to people who book the pits with a permit; however, that’s not required.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) program offers three months of free Cognitive Behavioural Therapy-based text messages written by mental health therapists.
Once subscribed, you’ll receive daily one-way messages that aim to help you develop healthy coping skills and resiliency. Text4Hope will help identify and adjust negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours that may be caused by the pandemic.
The service was developed for AHS by Edmonton’s Mental Health Foundation in partnership with Calgary Health Trust, the University Hospital Foundation, the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, Alberta Cancer Foundation and the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Edmonton is developing the World’s Largest Carbon-neutral neighbourhood
Located 10 minutes from downtown Edmonton on the former municipal airport lands, Blatchford is designed as a carbon-neutral neighbourhood powered entirely by renewable resources and with a projected population of 30,000 living and working in a sustainable way. The first phases of housing development are already under construction and the district energy system has already gone in.