How Do We Bring Back Our Main Streets?

Featuring Charles Montgomery, Founding Principal, Happy City; Michael Shuman, Director of Local Economy Projects, Neighbourhood Associates Corporation; Jake Stacey, Vice President, VanCity Community Investment Bank; and Judith Veresuk, Executive Director, Regina Downtown BID

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. The intersection of public health, equity and local economy

Many think of main streets simply as commercial centres, however COVID-19 has shown us that main streets are where public health, equity, and the local economy intersect. Main streets are the heart of communities of all sizes and can take many forms (from strip malls to major intersections). By making main streets walkable, connected and home to a variety of local businesses, cities can support healthy social and physical access to the goods, services and public spaces that people need.

2. We need to re-think how public space is used on main streets

By re-thinking the ways in which the physical space is used on main streets, cities can use tactical urban interventions to make main streets more equitable, accessible and profitable. “Flex zones” have been introduced in cities in California (Oakland and Mountain View) as a way to empower local business owners to use the sidewalk and parking spaces in front of their businesses to better accommodate their community – whether through increased patio space, pedestrian access or parking. The current public health crisis has highlighted the need for cities to consider how main streets can be designed more creatively to serve more people safely and effectively.

3. Anchor businesses as amenities

Local businesses are often listed as amenities in neighbourhoods by condominiums and new developments, typically setting the context for the local identity.  These anchor businesses function as more than just cafes, grocery stores, restaurants or retail, often providing support for other small businesses in the community by attracting local customers and fostering local partnerships. A more intentional approach to supporting anchor businesses as such is needed in order to ensure the succession of these businesses and the healthy function of a main street.

4. Recovery will not be replication of what was

With many main street businesses pivoting to digital platforms, the question arises as to whether digital and physical storefronts can co-exist. Is the digital main street the end of brick and mortar? Main street recovery from COVID-19 will require local businesses to develop new approaches to their business and service models, making it imperative for businesses to develop online functionality no matter what comes next.  As cities change the ways in which public spaces are accessed, businesses will need to grow in tandem.

5. Main streets run on cash flow

Federal support for small businesses will not be enough to help main streets to survive COVID-19.  Local businesses will need direct investment from community mobilization before the government is able to introduce new progressive policies that address the need for direct capital investment and tax reform. Investment in main streets through local procurement, reduced credit rates, and a community investment approach to purchasing will help small businesses through an increase in direct cash flow.

Full Panel

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to with “transcription” in the subject line. 

Mary Rowe [00:00:51] Hello, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute. Welcome to the Tuesday edition of City Talk. It’s the Tuesday after what was to be the May 24th weekend or the May or the May Victoria Day weekend. Kind of odd to have May 24th on May 18th. But there we are. We did and we’re back at it, trying to wake ourselves up and get back at what is happening to cities in the time of COVID. I’m the president of the Canadian Urban Institute, we’re the connective tissue business and we, since COVID have been responding to the need for information and sharing and understanding what’s actually happening around us. With three platforms,, and this one we’re on today,, where we invite people like these brave four to talk to us about a particular aspect of urban life and what they’re observing, what they see is really happening, what they think is likely to happen and what do they think needs to happen. So today it’s all about main streets. And in fact, CUI is leading an effort across the country, across Canada called Bring Back Main Street. You can go find it that And in fact, what we’re keen on is to hear stories about how your main streets are coping and what do you see ahead in your neighborhood. So one way that listeners could help us is if you would send us some photos of what you’re seeing on your main streets and you can send those on Twitter. You can email them to or you can put them on Twitter with the hashtag #BringBack MainStreet and then tag us @CanUrb so that we can see what’s going on on your main streets. And we recognize that main streets take different forms. They may be a traditional block, but they may also be a four corners or they may be a strip mall or they it’s the place where you go and where others go to meet one another, have some kind of exchange, some kind of communal experience. And what you would sort of call is the heart of your community. Where is the main street that you gravitate to? And what’s it going to take for these places to come back? These broadcasts initiate where I am anyway in Toronto, which is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabek, and the Chippewa and the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. And it’s now home to many diverse First Nations in Inuit, in Métis peoples from across Turtle Island. Toronto is covered by Treaty 13, signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams treaties signed with multiple Annishnabek nations. And we are very aware that the Indigenous communities across the country are having their own particular experience and struggle with COVID and particularly urban Indigenous. And so we’re interested in that. How is the urban Indigenous community responding in particular urban Indigenous businesses, many of which are on main streets, one near me a couple blocks over Bannock House is an Indigenous business. So we want that to be part of our inquiry as well. The conversations always begin here, but they never end. There are endless conversations. So please continue on Twitter with #CityTalk. We will record this session as we are now and we will post it with a summary. And the other thing is, as anyone who’s been on a city talk knows, we have a very active chat community. There’s a lot of life in the chat. So please group chat away, use the setting on the bottom of your screen that says “to all panelists and everyone”, because what happens is chatters end up answering each other’s questions much more quickly than sometimes the panel can get to them. And the other thing is, as we’ve said, anything that goes on, that chat is on that chat. It stays there. So just keep that in mind. The world will see it because we’ll post it afterwards. And we appreciate that, that we have some really robust conversations and we learn a ton from these things, not just from the folks that come on us like these folks, but also the people like you who are listening in and asking questions and and really making clear what your experience is. I think if there’s anything we want to derive from the COVID experience it’s that we all have our experiences of our communities and we need to give voice to those and learn from each other and create the kind of peer to peer opportunities in Canada with city voters across the country. So please tell us what you’re seeing on your main streets. We have three sessions this week. This one, one on Thursday where we’re going to hear from voices from abroad and then on Friday when we will be with yet another esteemed mayor of a Canadian city. So the other thing we always want to acknowledge is that we recognize that cities are still in tight, dire straits. Municipal governments are still struggling with how they’re going to pay their bills. They’re facing extraordinary expectations being placed on them both fiscally and just in terms of manpower, municipal governments are having to lay staff off. We’re very cognizant of this that we are having these conversations. But it’s a luxury because lots and lots of Canadians around the country and in Michael’s world, the US engaged in frontline service work, keeping people alive, keeping people safe. So we always want to be acknowledging that this conversation is no substitute or intended to in any way distract us from the matters at hand which is keeping people alive and safe. OK, so bring back Main Street. Let’s hear from our four gang here. I’m going to call you I was gonna call a gang of thieves, but that’s not right. You’re not thieves. You’re probably the opposite of thieves. You’re you’re believers. You’re people that have been invested for some time in why the local economy matters and what the role of the main street is in actually creating vibrant urban life. And we have people coming from quite different perspectives with us today. So we post their bios online. So I don’t do much of an introduction other than their names and their cities. So the first person I’m going to ask to just fill us in on what he’s seeing from his perch is our friend Michael Shuman with, I see a Canadian prop behind him. Michael Shuman from Washington, DC. So talk to us, Michael, about what you’re seeing in terms of Main Street impacts and what what’s your sense?

Michael Shuman [00:06:41] Yeah. So obviously the impact is severe. And one of the impacts is that federal support, even after three stimulus bills, is way too little to help main streets. And way too little for state and local governments here in the United States. And what I’m seeing is that many of these municipalities and states are looking at ideas that as recently as three months ago were regarded as far fetched. And now they’re making them front and center because these ideas can basically provide stimulus at zero or zero cost or actually they may even make money. So I’ll give you just a couple of examples. People are thinking much more seriously about local investment, which would bring money into local businesses. The state of Michigan, for example, has just introduced a bill to give a 50 percent tax credit to people who invest in local businesses. People are thinking more about public banking to put excess revenues to work in local banks and credit unions. People are talking about changes in procurement policy that would favor more local businesses and actually lead to cheaper tenders. And people are talking about local purchasing programs initiated by the grassroots that involve things like adopting a business and bringing that business alive through consumer support.

Mary Rowe [00:08:19] I was gonna ask you, what’s the difference between local purchasing and local procurement. So local procurement is public sector – the public sector buying?

Michael Shuman [00:08:26] Yes. Exactly. And the local purchasing is behavior by individuals or businesses.

Mary Rowe [00:08:33] Right. Right. OK, well, let’s. I actually I’m going to change the order that I was initially planning. Jake, I want to go to you next, because you actually work in the financial sector. Jake is from Toronto and she’s with Vancity in the Vancity Community Investment Bank. So Michael just gave you your perfect pitch there about local banks, public bank. So. Tell us what the perspective is from Vancity’s perspective.

Jake Stacey [00:08:55] Thank you, Michael, for pitching it right down the middle. I even wrote that. I even wrote that down. I appreciate it. So building on what Michael said. First thing, Mary, thanks for the invitation. This is a really important conversation. And I think what, on top of everything Michael mentioned, we’re observing is speed. The process of mobilize, strategize, stabilize has sped up in ways that I don’t think I would have anticipated as a financial services professional. And so saying that one of the things we realized very quickly in our organization was we wanted to lead. So we wanted to get products out there very quickly. That would address the issues that Michael mentioned.  Which, how do you get capital to those organizations and individuals quickly who absolutely needed it? We didn’t. We knew our government here in Canada would come to the table, but we really wanted to be out in front of that a little bit to ensure that to Michael’s point, our constituents, members and customers knew we were there and ready. And so from a leadership perspective, we looked at, you know, who’s going to need what? Quickly, what is relief, i.e., families potentially needing reductions on interest rates on credit cards was one of our early our early discussions. We went to zero very quickly. We also went to market in both organizations with Unity Deposit and then for retail members, individuals, and then came behind that with one for organizations, because we knew it wasn’t just going to be individuals who wanted to invest in helping the local grassroots organizations that Michael spoke about being so important. So we wanted to make sure that we book ended that for individuals and businesses. And then our next step in that was really. OK, so if we raised this capital, how do we deploy the capital in a way that’s meaningful? So we’ve got a pivot loan, a unity a unity loan, which is, you know, two different products serving two different types of needs. One for organizations that need to pivot and have pivoted. For example, Mary, you’ll be familiar with this. You know, in Toronto, you’re seeing a lot of these distilleries pivoted very quickly and very early to build to make hand sanitizer. So we looked at what are organizations and individuals going to need and we went very quickly ourselves through to mobilize, spread, strategize and stabilize. And the other thing I would add to build on what Michael said is we started with our people. We looked at the people within our organizations. And how do we mobilize quickly? So even ourselves as financial institutions, you know, some of those things that we would take three to six months to stand up. We said we’ve got three to three to six days. And so we challenged our selves as well and rose to the occasion working in parallel. And Mary, you’re familiar with our communications teams in our organizations. They were very quick to start working with the federal government to ensure, you know, the programs they were going to come out with. Would dovetail nicely with what we were doing in ensuring that we would make that type of capital available at that local grassroots level in the small medium enterprises we serve.

Mary Rowe [00:12:38] I want to come back to both Michael and Jake specifically on money and how, because I think there’s lots of anxiety that the all the relief. And I know we are different countries. But there are patterns that one can see that all the relief is going to be scooped up by bigger business. So I want to come back to Jake and Michael on that in a second. I’m going to I’m going to now go over to Judith in Regina. But before you do, before I go to you, can I just encourage everybody on the chat, please change your little toggle, switch, folks, to all panelists and attendees as much as the panelists love to hear from you the dilemma is that the rest of the world doesn’t see it. So we really want you to go, and if you’ve already sent a comment to just the panelists, can you go back in and send it to everybody so we can all see it? The other thing is I’m appreciating people are checking in from their main streets and that is tremendous. So if you could again check in and send to all panelists and attendees, what’s your main street? Where are you writing in from? I’m seeing Roncy, I’m seeing Halifax. I’m seeing various places. I’m seeing an interesting initiative in Calgary from the culinary Calgary’s culinary and cultural capital. Thank you. So again, plug for us. If you are working on a main street or there is a Main Street Association, with which you have some contact. Good. That’s causing lots of people to come and tell us, which are you? Which street are you championing for? We want to hear you. OK, Judith, Regina.  And also other other links. I think there was some downtown burough or some new Peterborough site. As I said, these chats are really rich. So fill us in, folks. Want to hear where you’re coming from. Judith talking to us from Regina.

Judith Veresuk [00:14:04] Thanks, Mary. And it’s great to see all the people in the chat. I know a lot of you are my colleagues that I’ve seen at various conferences. So, again, it’s nice to connect, even though it’s through virtual.  BIDs, BIAs, we are the ones that are closest to our main streets. We’re that layer in between city and the business themselves. And when you’re in a business dealing with a crisis, sometimes you are not well all the time. You’re not paying attention to what’s going around you. You’re worried about staying afloat, you’re worried about keeping open the doors. So that’s where the BIDs have really come in to be that layer to communicate what the greater good is for the downtown or your main street to decision makers at the municipal level, the provincial level and the federal level. And what I’ve seen here is that our role, which really focused in Regina anyways on placemaking, has really shifted to advocacy. We’ve done a lot of work on advocacy. We’ve done a lot of work on research because again, we deal with a lot of businesses that English might not be their first language. They’re kind of floating in in this gray area where they’re not sure where to access information. They’re not sure what information is important. So we’ve been doing a lot of sifting through a lot a lot of the noise and boiling it down to what’s important, what programs are out there. What do you qualify for? We educate. That’s just it. We educate not just the businesses, but our municipal leaders. This is why this is important. This is what we’re seeing on the ground level. And this is what what you can do to help. And in reality, we’re therapists. But, you know, we’re on calls with some of these folks that are at risk of losing everything. And we do our best to calm them down, to point them in the right direction and be there for them. So there’s just been a lot of roles we’ve had to pivot into that we might not have been there before. I’ve had conversations, I’ve been here for 10 years and I’ve had conversations this past eight weeks with folks that have never had a chance to speak to speak to, but they’ve reached out because they see the value in what we do for them. And I feel here in Regina, especially as a capital city and being so close to the legislature here, we’ve been able to effect that change for them and provide them with grant funding and provide their their situation to the decision makers so they can craft programs that would help the guys on the ground. Today, the day after Victoria Day is the first day of our retail sector and personal services sector opening. So we’re pretty excited about seeing what that will look like. I know there’s a lot of temperate excitement from from the community. You know, retail can open, and I think that’s what we’ve all been waiting for. But will the customers come back? Do they feel safe? Are we doing enough to make them feel safe? So we’ve done a lot of work here in our BID to increase that training for the BID, increase that capacity for our businesses and just convey that sense of safety. And again, just share how you can interact with Main Street at your comfort level, whether it’s online or in person, but a little bit further apart. We’re just here to make sure that the community knows that Main Street is open for business and that you need to continue to support them in whatever way possible to make sure that they’re still here at the end of this.

Mary Rowe [00:17:51] Thanks, Judith. And of course, you’re also the chair of the International Development Association, right? So you have purview across the country. There’s a lot of commonality and and and challenges that are being felt at different scales by different communities, obviously. And Michael, for your benefit, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the nomenclature we’re using Canada has Business Improvement Areas, Business Improvement Districts, and in some cases we have Business Improvement Zones. But you know the gist of it, I suspect. And Charles, we’re getting lots of questions in the chat that you’re going to start to address, which is this notion of how we use the main street as a place and the various engagers in that place. So talk to us a little bit, if you could, about Happy City and your perspective, speaking to us from the Cowichan Valley in British Columbia.

Charles Montgomery [00:18:35] Yes. I mean, my mother’s basement here, if you could see behind the screen, you would see children’s beds. I want to set some context and then talk specifically and maybe create a menu for you of of different initiatives that are happening around the world with the context, I think is really important. This needs to be seen through the perspective of, yes, of economy, but also public health and well-being. Just yesterday, I was at the local power center where you you can imagine what that looks like. Giant big boxes. We drive from parking lot to parking lot. Early analysis is showing those kinds of environments are associated with viral spread in the state of New York and around New York City. And that connected, walkable, contained neighborhoods are actually the kinds of places that are more associated with with less viral spread. Looking more broadly at a picture of public health, we know the walkable neighborhood that Main Street itself performs a social function, but also a health function. We know people will are living longer through disasters and crises when they have those walkable fine-grained connected places. So what’s happening in the world now? Well, unfortunately, you know, the pandemic is just the gasoline that’s been poured on the fire of Main Street troubles. And so what’s exciting to see is despite this difficult time. Cities across Canada and the world, in fact, are using space differently and getting more flexible. So, first of all, yes, we need to change the way we use streets and public space. And it’s happening from Paris to Milan to Auckland, even to Vancouver, where we’re giving more space over to people who are walking and biking. By the way, if you bought bike stocks a month ago, you’d be rich now because it’s getting hard to buy a bike in North America, they’re flying off the shelves. Businesses need more space. It’s important to take public health in an equity perspective on this. For example, the city of Vancouver giving more space to restaurants to float onto the streets. Well, what about people who use the street all the time and can’t afford a restaurant? So the new rule will be that if you can’t afford there, you still get to sit there. But I think I’m not going to layer all this on right now because I just want to touch on one important point to open up the discussion. But we also need to think about how we’re using our land differently. I think the biggest crisis of Main Street is there aren’t enough people living close to our main streets to shop at these places to walk there and shop there. So how can we use land differently both above those spaces and how can we re-zone spaces so that more people can live closer to Main Street. And that also is happening around the continent, not yet sparked by the pandemic, but I hope this ramps it up. Think of Portland, which has legalized fourplexes across the city. I’ll stop there for now.

Mary Rowe [00:21:33] Thanks, Charles, and thanks, everybody. I mean, it is, this is a whole bunch of situations, isn’t it? It’s not just one thing. That’s probably why we’re so interested in tackling Main Street at CUI, because it’s sort of a proxy for a whole bunch of challenges. Where is the affordable housing. How does capital get dispersed? How do people get around? How do you navigate that shared public realm and what are the rules that are in place to do that? So I feel like we’ve got two areas. One is about money and capital that’s all going to flow. And then there’s this bit about space and how we allocate space. And obviously they’re really linked together. Judith, I’m wondering if I could come back to you for a second in terms of the kinds of council that that BIDs can provide to their members and BIDs and BIAs, have you have vendors as members, but you also have landlords, right?

Judith Veresuk [00:22:26] Absolutely. We have to represent both. And that’s why the the rent issue is very touchy for us because we don’t want to pick winners or losers. But getting back to what Charles is saying, I love the idea of tactical urbanism. We’ve run workshops here in in Regina to educate our businesses. But I do see even more education that needs to happen. I’m in Regina. We are the land of pickup trucks here. Everyone drives. No one takes the bus. So I guess getting into the mindset of a business owner that for the last 20 years has wanted that parking spot in front of his building to be free for his customers, just getting them to understand that right now you probably need that space to generate revenue for you, not necessarily for the city.

Mary Rowe [00:23:23] But what about the challenge of delivery? I mean, I know what you’re suggesting and you’re right that there are sadly all sorts of examples of business owners who want that parking spot for themselves. But what about if they want to actually have the commercial delivery system? You know, if we we’ve had all sorts of pushback here in Toronto, for instance, where they did a pilot on a street that did minimize traffic to cars, and the businesses would argue that it made it very difficult for them to get inventory and all that kind of stuff. What what do you say to that in terms of making this fair?

Judith Veresuk [00:23:55] Those those conversations need to happen. So is it pushing out into the parking lane to create that patio space, but perhaps taking over a travel lane to accommodate those deliveries? It depends on what your cross-section is, obviously. And then it’s conversing and finding what the commonalities are with within your block. What do your neighbors need? What do you need? And how do we manage that curb side? And then how do we convey that need to city halls? City Council? So they can make those policy decisions to allow you to do it, even if it is just for a pilot.

Mary Rowe [00:24:34] And maybe. I mean, we’ve been saying on City Talk here that COVID has put the whole world on a pilot. We’re one big hunk of pilot right this minute. And as Michael said, you know, things that were not even seen as possible. All of a sudden have been made to be possible. What about this idea that Michael was proposing about adopting a restaurant? Michael, you’re trying to reinforce the idea that I would have a personal relationship and an obligation, I think, to a business in my in my neighbourhood. Yes?

Michael Shuman [00:25:03] Yes. So I have a great favorite restaurant,  bar, bookstore in the Washington area called Busboys and Poets. And I want to make sure that that restauranteur survives. So I approached him two weeks ago and I said, Andy, Andy Shallal is the proprietor. And I said, Andy, I want to do the best I can to get cash in your hand now. Can I buy a thousand dollars of meals from you right now? And Andy said, not only that, but we’re so grateful. But we’re going to give you 20 percent more. So I’m getting a 20 percent return on my investment from pre-purchasing meals with Andy. And I feel like all of us really should think about what is the one great local business that we love and how can we get some cash in its hands. That’s a simple thing. But I also want to emphasize that where you invest your money is really important. I am betting here that if we did a survey of the 300 plus people on this call, we would find that ninety nine percent of your investment was going into global corporations, not into Main Street. So all of you have an obligation to systematically start moving your savings, your RRSPs into local businesses and Main Street.

Mary Rowe [00:26:35] Jake, Michael keeps passing perfectly to you. He keeps throwing you balls. OK, let’s. I mean, I think, you know, just for people’s benefit and you know, Vancity is the second largest credit union, I think in the country. Am I right, Jake? Next to do Desjardins probably?

Jake Stacey [00:26:51] Yeah. Largest.

Mary Rowe [00:26:51] OK. Certainly in British Columbia. But across the country there Desjardins is the big one in Quebec. And this idea that, are there ways to keep your money more locally invested? And Michael, you had suggested a bunch of ways the public, the idea of public banking, the idea of local procurement. Jake, do you have further thoughts on this about how you as an industry, as Vancity, as an industry leader, can kind of move to get more of this money to actually be invested locally

Jake Stacey [00:27:21] Yeah. And I think one of the things that I had sent to the group over the weekend was product design and construct. So there is an intentionality, Mary, that needs to happen. And I think, you know, organizationally, that was one of the reasons we started the way that we did. For example, you know, going out with the Unity Fund, the term deposit that Vancity went out with was really intentional because the intent was to raise the capital and deploy the capital to organizations who were doing one of two things as I said pivot or need help. And so intentional banking where I’m fortunate you know it to be working for the organization I work with. This is what we do. So we’re a purpose built organization.

Mary Rowe [00:28:13] But how do we get more of you or how do we get your norms to be more mainstream norms in the financial services industry?

Jake Stacey [00:28:20] Yes, it is. It is a conversation we often have. Mary, and I think it’s pushing that boulder up the hill and it links to what Judith, Charles and Michael have all said, which is, you know, is COVID the crisis that gives us the opportunity to do what was impossible. And so, but the challenge we’re going to have is there’s going to be conflicting desires. So there’s going to be people who ride bikes that don’t want that part like that, don’t want that change. There’s going. So I think that I think the solution as it relates to Main Street is for each group a stakeholder – What does Main Street mean? And getting an understanding of what that looks like for them so that you can speak to where they are. Because if we’re if we’re having conversations about, so, for example, I grew up in Stratford, Ontario. And so as the festival, a festival city, huge tourism, massive, massive economic benefit from small business. What’s different about this crisis than the financial crisis was businesses did not shut their doors on a certain day in 2008. Right? Here we did. And so as a financier, sometimes I can’t even think about that because I think cash flow stopped. So in order to have the right conversation about Main Street, we need to understand the impact of that, that stalling of cash flow, because it’s different. Judith will relate to this. It’s different for every type of organization. And a lot of us represent both sides. So we we deal with landlords, plus we finance businesses or we work with businesses. Those are conflicting conversations. So when we looked at it holistically as an organization, we realized that we had to we had to mobilize in the community i.e. community level. So we assisted in building. You’ll be familiar with this, a better Toronto coalition. So we funded directly into foundations that we knew had the systems to deploy money quickly to those main street businesses who potentially would need it. We knew that as a financial institution deployment of it, we could not do it as quickly. So we mobilized our capital and partnered with people that are experts at getting it into the community in different buckets, whether it was food safety, safety safety, health and wellness or actual cash that needed to go into businesses. And then we looked at working with our current constituents, who were the constituents that had populations of people that fill main street with either people, human resources, ideas or product. So, for example, we worked and formed a rent relief fund with one of the organizations here in Toronto, CSI, Mary. So that their group that they their constituents they served would not be left hanging out in the wind to not have that support. So there were two ways we looked at it. Community mobilization. And how do we work with our members and how do we work with our customers in two different ways to raise that capital and deploy it where it needs to be. But I think Michael said something really important and this is the piece and Judith touched on it and Charles touched on it. And so did you Mary. Procurement. So if we’re gonna do what Charles talked about as it relates to land and we’re going to use our land differently and we’re going to use our real estate differently, then the procurement process in our municipalities absolutely needs to change. Because if we’re going to look at affordability from the perspective of a ‘percentage’ of if we can’t map that to in perpetuity, affordability in perpetuity, whether it’s for a business or someone where they live, then all of this benefit we’re potentially getting from this COVID crisis will not come to be because affordability is is the real bullet.

Mary Rowe [00:32:33] Yeah, I mean, there is. There is something we’re going to call the COVID dividend. Maybe there are. Maybe we’re gonna come out of this doing some some of the right things. Charles, you mentioned that it’s a package, right? It’s Main Street. Is there a local community that can live around the main street to support it? Right. And I was in Scarborough over the weekend looking at some of the strip malls there. And I think we need to acknowledge that as I suggested, Main Street’s not the same across the country. Some places you cannot walk there. And I want to just caution urbanists that we tend to be very snobby about this. And if somebody has to get there in their pickup truck, like Regina, as Judith suggested, that we tend to judge them. Well, let’s just be clear that’s sometimes the only option they’ve got. But when I was in Scarborough, I was interested. You have to drive in Scarborough.  I don’t know if anybody’s been there, but you have to drive. And I was really interested, though, that I could see that the people that were shopping in the strip malls that were really vibrant looked to me as if they did live within the blocks that surrounded that area. So it it seems that the real estate piece, the affordability piece seems to be something that some communities have been able to address. Charles, what’s your perspective on that? You work around the world. What do you think?

Charles Montgomery [00:33:39] Well, I think North America is a remarkable place for how how we’ve locked ourselves into patterns that deny us freedom and flexibility when it comes to use of space, use of retail space and use of residential space. I’m noticing some of the comments on the side there. Gil Peñalosa. Hi, Gil! Noted that, you know, we’re completely locked in even close to retail zones, to the detached house model, and that needs to change. People are hurting now. They need to be able to do more with the land they live on. We need to allow more unrelated people living in the same house in Vancouver that was banned until recently. And you do note that, yeah, many people who are shopping a street in strip mall environments got there in other ways than a vehicle. I want to note several initiatives that are been happening around the world. Not all the recently Mountain View, California. You know, we talk about retailers having different preferences for how to use the parking lane. Well, back in the 1980s in Mountain View, they introduced a flex zone. You do what you want with it. If you want to turn that into your patio, go for it. If you want to keep the parking, fine. I also think we can do so much more if the chains are pulled off our options for action. I learned a bit from James Rojas in Oakland.

Mary Rowe [00:35:04] Give me an exampleof a chain. You don’t mean a chain stores. What are the shackles that you want to have us pulled away from? What is that? Tell me one.

Charles Montgomery [00:35:13] OK. I’m going to give you an example of how we use street and sidewalk space. So, James Rojas mentioned to me last week that in Oakland, when they created, turned 10 percent of the city streets into slow streets, suddenly people are doing what they want there, including commerce. He calls it Latino Urbanism. If you’ve ever been in Latin America, you know that the sidewalks and other spaces are being used differently for micro commerce. Recently when I was in Shanghai, I noticed that the Shanghainese are embracing this. But in a very sophisticated way, having, you know, beautiful, elegant micro commerce booths along streets. We need to remember that in order to attract more people to main streets or strips or these kinds of spaces, they need to serve more needs and they need to feel better. They need to be more attractive because we know there’s a strong relationship between feelings of place attachment and GDP growth.

Mary Rowe [00:36:10] Right. I mean, there is something about the feel better piece, you know. So before I leave you, can you talk a little bit about other ways that you think we can actually physically make interventions on main streets that will make that will attract people and they will feel better there.

[00:36:26] I’ll give you one example from our research here in Vancouver. Well over the water in Vancouver in my mother’s basement right now.

Mary Rowe [00:36:33] I knew what you meant. Yes.

Charles Montgomery [00:36:35] So Vancouver introduced a program called Pavement to Plaza a couple of years ago where they took car space, gave it back to people and made small, very small plazas. We studied the effects of these plazas and the effects were remarkable compared to the places that had not been changed. People felt more welcome there. Women felt safer there and more likely to return. So this is an equity issue as well. And people felt a deeper sense of belonging and commitment to the community. In other words, by making this small shift people felt more bonded to the place, more likely to come back and more likely to spend money as well as more likely to connect with each other in ways that were supportive.

Mary Rowe [00:37:17] Right. Right. Judith, in terms of the kind of typology of a main street. Do you want to comment a little bit about how they’ve been changing over time? I mean, I think this is one of the dilemmas we’ve got with this. When I tell people we’re doing bring back main streets, sometimes I get a cynical response, which was, oh, you know main streets were in trouble before, you know. Do you really think that there’s a chance to revive them? But they’ve been changing. Right? Main streets have been evolving.

Judith Veresuk [00:37:42] Absolutely. We’re seeing in my main street here, we have our premier shopping mall for the community. So that lines one whole side of our main street. Across the way. We have heritage buildings with ground floor retail. And we also have new build, new office towers with with also ground floor retail. So I think you see a whole mix of that. My colleague to the north of the tracks, they have old warehouses that have been converted into retail, mixed use. So I think we’re seeing all types and using the term Main Street I think it’s just that traditional term we all revert to because we all have the hоkeу version of what main street. But really it’s our commercial districts that tend to be more locally owned that serve the local community. So the moniker is easy to use. And I think it invokes the same idea, but really it covers a wide range of of types of business improvement areas, business permit districts, commercial areas throughout North America.

Mary Rowe [00:38:50] Do you have a thought on key kind of anchor entities on a main street? You know, so if we were talking about how they’re going to revitalize or resurge, are there particular kinds of occupiers of main streets that you think are more the ones to focus on first, for instance?

Judith Veresuk [00:39:07] Well, I think it depends on your your business, I always use BID, but it depends on your neighbourhood, because going back to what Michael was saying, there is usually a community affinity for one or two businesses that if that business goes down, so goes the rest of the community. So you really need to identify who that is. And it’s going to be different for everyone in some places. It’s it’s the restaurant. In some places it’s the retailer that’s been there forever. So really, I hate saying this, but sometimes you really need to pick the guy that you can’t let sink and throw everything you’ve got at him and provide them with all of the support that you can, be on the phone with them at midnight if you have to, talking them through what you need to do, because if they go down, so goes the two or three businesses on either side of them.

Jake Stacey [00:40:02] I just I think it really links to having a mindset about social purpose, real estate. You know, so what is that? Is it a co-working space? Is it is it, you know, inserting a not for profit organization on a main street and sharing? Charles and I were just talking about this before we got on the call, sharing space. You know, and fortunately, there are there are financial institutions, to Michael’s point, that are more grassroots. And we can sort out those shared revenue models and take a look at that to ensure that cash flow is more resilient, because frankly, as much as we’re talking about Main Street with, you know, Main Streets run on cash flow. So the resiliency of cashflow is critical. And so if we know we’ve got a lever that’s going, we can pull to Judith’s point to ensure that survival mechanism kicks in on on the main street or the communities that you know, that the commercial area that Mary’s referring to. Then we all of a sudden have a more resilient neighborhood that can financially support itself. So it’s the mixed use that we need to take a look at and really be purposeful about how we use our real estate and the things that we’re doing with it and who the tenants are in any given in any given spot.

Mary Rowe [00:41:23] Yeah. This is a question about whether we need to formalize social purpose real estate. Do we need different kinds of rules to enable it? You know, one of the dilemmas that cities face is that their tax, they rely on the property tax as their revenue to fuel their services. And does that then put us in a situation where municipal governments are less interested in making retail space on main streets affordable because the tax because they’re burdened by the tax base.

Jake Stacey [00:41:49] And they can’t carry deficits, you know, which which puts the municipalities in a spot, that’s right now, in our current state, next to impossible. Next to impossible.

Mary Rowe [00:41:59] Would you put them would you let them carry, you know in BC they’re now being allowed to run a deficit. Would you let them do that?

Jake Stacey [00:42:08] Yeah, I would if it was specific to certain types of developments as it relates to land. Absolutely. I wouldn’t let them, you know go out and, you know, create giant credit lines to cash flow their operations. But if they’re on a project by project basis, you know, and you want to start, you know, Charles mentioned equity a couple of times the value of that land and that ninety nine year lease on that land, you know, I mean, we can work that better at a municipal level as it relates to, you know, raise a bond, then have an affordable. Mary, I could talk about it for hours. Really. Michael could too.

Mary Rowe [00:42:46] Next webinar. Michael. You’ve mentioned some macro interventions and then some really micro ones, you know, because you adopting the poet bus bus stop. Oh, I can’t remember the name of it.

Michael Shuman [00:43:01] Bus boys and poets.

Mary Rowe [00:43:03] You adopting, that is your personal commitment. I I’ve seen some discourse from people suggesting that consumers be challenged to allocate a percentage of their disposable income as they emerge to spend in their local community.

Michael Shuman [00:43:17] Yeah, that’s always good for the economy. But I think now people really see the value in nudging themselves a little bit more along those lines.

Mary Rowe [00:43:28] You’re almost you’re almost suggesting a community supported agriculture kind of model for a restaurant so that you actually make those share purchases ahead of time, right?

Michael Shuman [00:43:38] Yeah. I mean, I mean, we can’t necessarily make it completely formal. We can’t say to a restaurant convert into completely a complete community supported model. But I think we can we can have them do it for a hundred people. It would make a big difference in their cash flow. And I will call out that there is a Canadian company in Winnipeg which has a program called Local Future, which is a platform to help communities do this kind of pre-purchasing en masse. And I think it’s a very good thing to look at.

Mary Rowe [00:44:15] I was going to actually ask you folks about the digital piece because, you know, this old story, that technology is our friend and maybe not always our friend. Lots and lots of entities like the one that was highlighted in Winnipeg and then there’s Distantly and a few others that are sparking up where I can actually make an investment through a digital platform into a local business that gets me product in return. And also, of course, lots and lots of businesses have suddenly got with the program and gone digital. Do you see the digital piece as ultimately threatening Main Street? I mean, Amazon has been here for a while. Or do you think it can be integrated into it in a positive way? Judith, you want to start? What do you think?

Judith Veresuk [00:44:58] I think seeing what happened now and knowing the businesses that we have here in Regina struggle with the sudden collapse, in patrons, they have to go digital, especially if we hit a second or third wave and this happens again. Now is the time to start getting them accustomed to doing commerce online. And that’s where some of the BIDs, especially in Ontario, I know the Digital Main Street platform, it’s probably going to be oversubscribed now. Given the importance that those mom and pop shops that probably were staying away from online because it was new and scary to them and maybe they felt that their product line didn’t lend itself to that. Now they have to go do it. So I think that’s where BIDs and BIAs need to pivot in terms of being either that connector between the business and providers like Digital Main Street or be the educators themselves and and become experts.

Mary Rowe [00:46:06] Can they coexist? I think that’s the question. We tend to be all or nothing. Oh, no, no. I never do digital or I do that. If if there’s a way to take this technology in a way that enhances my communication with somebody, could be a business could be a block away. Right? Could be.

Judith Veresuk [00:46:24] I think they can definitely co-exist. You’re always going to want folks that want that personal service. And I think especially if BIDs and BIAs and businesses do a good job of personalizing, putting the face to the name. You know, this is Comic Readers downtown and this is the gentleman that owns it. This is his livelihood. This is what he does every day. I think once folks have a personal connection to the guy that owns it, whether they’re online or face to face, they will still support that, gentleman, because they know Chad from Comic Readers.

Mary Rowe [00:46:58] You know, we’re again at Bring Back Main Street, the project that we’re initiating at CUI with a whole bunch of partners across the country, including Charles and including Vancity and including IDA, including Judith. All of you except you, michael, we’re going to rope you in too. But part of part of what we’re wondering about is how do you support some evolutionary change that was in the works of happening anyway. So you’ve got I have a barber shop down here. I live on a main street to the left of me is a barbershop. He’s had that business for forty five years and he does. He doesn’t want to come here anymore. But he does not have an easy way to to get that business, to get the value out of the business and find someone to do it. And I know that in smaller communities, it’s even tougher. There is maybe no buyer for these services. And how do we sort of support the natural succession that happens? Are there measures that public policy could or the financing community or the design community, Charles? Are there ways to ease those transitions? Anybody done any thinking on that?

Michael Shuman [00:47:59] Well, I can I can add something, which is a group of collaborators and I did a handbook on community investment funds, primarily in the United States. And one of the things that we’re noticing is that some of these sort of new generation of community investment funds are focused on succession issues. So they basically are acquiring businesses like the one you mentioned where the gentleman wants to retire. And in a way, reinventing those businesses, opening them up for community investment and ultimately spinning those businesses back out again. I think municipalities working in conjunction with local banks and credit unions could do a terrific job in really replicating these kinds of funds across Canada.

Mary Rowe [00:48:49] Yeah, a number of you have mentioned community foundations, community asset funds, community. This idea of a community finance fund that’s being experimented with in Newfoundland through the Fogo shorefest, folks. And I’m noticing we have participants from Letterkenny, Ireland and Riga, Latvia. These are, you have old traditional main streets in those parts of Europe. And we know that pubs, for instance, started to have difficulty surviving. And then communities have come in, self-organized to sort of, do more even than adopting Michael, I think they actually take out shares and it becomes a community owned business. Do we need more models like that? Charles, you’re in you’re in the part of the country that has more of a reputation for that kind of ownership model. Do you want to comment at all about what you’re seeing?

Charles Montgomery [00:49:36] Well, I think you’ve you’ve just made the point. So I may not take it further. It’s happening. Community land trusts are doing it and it’s happening at the grassroots. So I want to I want to note something I read from Chris at Resonance who who’s noted that now small local businesses are considered an amenity of a much new high density residential. But the problem is, is they’re bearing this terrible tax burden. And so Chris suggested two things. First of all, actually, no, this is a suggestion from me and many of your commenters in the chat, we need to shift the tax burden away from local small businesses. It’s killing them. It has been for years. And that’s a tough one. It requires political bravery. But on the second piece, Chris noted that if it’s an amenity, why don’t the why doesn’t the building strata own that amenity, run like an amenity. If you want a coffee shop, have your own coffee shop. I mean, this is sort of a mega response because you require a large building with lots going on in the strata. But I also want to note one more thing is that, you know, we are still, businesses are quite hamstrung by with parking requirements, for example. And we have these main streets now, though, that have and will increasingly have broken teeth. And we need to fill in those gaps. And we can do that with local governments and entities supporting pop up commercial spaces to seed the next generation of entrepreneurs in between them so they don’t fall together, you know?

Jake Stacey [00:51:03] And I think that, you know, one of the things we have to work with and this is where I think some of those competing desires are going to come to blows is we have to accept that the taxation model that currently exists is generally the source of revenue for municipalities. It’s either tax or parking. And so, you know, to your point, they’re so hamstrung, Charles. So it’s almost like, you know, do you remember the whole P3 model Charles in B.C. when they were thinking about building the new Port Mann Bridge and then everybody came to the table, said, let’s all do it, and then it blew up. Like I it’s there’s a level of territorialism, and Judith, I’m sure you’ll relate to this is when you own and start a business, there’s pride. I’m doing this on my own. I’m going to make it on my own. This is my business. You know, this is my cashflow. So we have this thing where, you know, coming together and sharing revenue or models or, you know, the co-op mentality in business, you know, isn’t quite there yet. And I think that this crisis potentially is creating a little bit more urgency about some of the things that Charles is talking about. So how does policy come together with, you know, organizations on a main street, whatever the definition of that is, to actually have those meaningful conversations and say to a municipality, we get it all, you get money from is parking and tax. So, like, how can we all work together to ensure that we mobilize those things in a way that works. Community investment, you know, as a community investment, right in our name, you know, I understand the importance of that as it relates to how do we encourage those transitions and conversations and have stakeholders at the table that may not be speaking the same language. Because, Mary, you’ve seen it so many times in Toronto. We sit down at a table and everyone speaking different language. You’ve got a guy like Charles talking about happy cities, you know, and and and people that are in the municipal bureaucracies going, who is this guy? Like, what’s even saying we I don’t even. And so I think there’s something about nomenclature and language. We have to come together and say, like, what do we all really talking about here so that we all are the same spot. Michael, what do you think of that? Do you think that that plays a role in miscommunication potentially and mobilization.

Michael Shuman [00:53:31] Absolutely. We represent thousands of tribes and this is our calling to come together and start speaking together. And I also think it’s true internationally and I like the way that everyone here has mentioned international examples because we have so much to learn abroad. I mean, I cite, believe it or not, Canadian examples when I’m trying to convince American cities to do more local investment. Michigan in their tax credit for local investment can thank New Brunswick for the idea.

Mary Rowe [00:54:09] Good. That’s good. We’d like to see, we like to see the learning going both ways, Michael. We’re kind of running the corner on this, and I appreciate that we’ve tried to balance conversations about space and place and investment and public policy and money. As you look to the future and as I’m as I fear, we are dealing with most a most cynical kind of media that think that that this is the end of Main Street. And whenever someone says that, you know, you’re part of me wants to say, oh, don’t you be counting it out so fast. Do you each have a minute you want to speak to about what the priorities need to be going forward? If if if our listeners had three things that they would focus on to bring back their mainstream, what would it be? Judith.

Judith Veresuk [00:54:57] Come up with that idea, come up with the ideas, thow them at the wall, try and time is of the essence. You know, that whole quote, speed, not perfection. Let’s do it now, because if you wait too long, if you study it to death, we’ll have missed the boat. It’s going to be too late.

Mary Rowe [00:55:16] Yeah. I mean, I feel like you that that we’re going to find smart things that local communities will do. You’ve all been citing examples of them. And how do we then spread that so that somebody hears, hey, they’ve been trying this in Abbotsford, hey, we’re gonna try it, too. So find the idea. See if you can make it. See if you can attach it.

Judith Veresuk [00:55:32] Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Then obviously, you know, keep health and safety first and foremost, but be unafraid to experiment. Now is the time people are willing to forgive things that don’t work. So let’s take advantage of that groundswell, because if we wait too long, you’ll be criticized for waiting too long and then all eyes will be on you if things don’t work out. So, yeah, just take advantage of the sentiment that’s happening right now.

Mary Rowe [00:56:04] Yeah. I mean, some of this is just nimbleness. I often. Talk about how you can try in smaller communities before a big city will try, because the smaller community is more nimble, it will try something that a big city can then copy. Same may be true for businesses. If you have a staff of ten, twelve, thirty people, you can try some staff much more easily than a company that’s got thousands of employees. Michael, what do you think? Two or three things you would have people focus on.

Michael Shuman [00:56:26] Yeah. Figure out in your community the businesses or the projects or the main street pieces that are most worth bringing to life. Figure out how to convert it into a local locally investable product and then systematically start moving your long term savings into Main Street where it belongs. And the most important thing is, is that compared to losing 20 percent in the market, which is where most people are right now. I think it is a bargain.

Mary Rowe [00:57:01] There you go. So the risk is the risk is a more modest one locally, too. That’s the other point you’d say. Right. OK. Jake.

Jake Stacey [00:57:10] I would say look at what you do when you’re what your business does and where you dovetail into the business community. So who can you partner with? And we talk about capital stack in banking, but I look at business stack. So who can you partner with on your main street to amplify what you do? So, for example, I’ll give you a practical example in Stratford, Ontario. There is like a phenomenally amazing ice cream shop who is a storefront. So people walk in. Down the street there is a tea maker. And so these two businesses have both gone to curb side in controlled, you know, environments with it with their local community. And they’ve been co-creating products together. So like a tea latte with the scoop of, you know, custard in it and then the cupcake girl got involved. And I think that that’s the thing. You know, the more voices you can partner with and the more you pick your blinders of fear off, because, you know, I’m not going to discredit the blinders of fear. But if you’re only focused on what’s going on for you, you’re missing the opportunities out here. So go to your peer group, in your local BIA and your local business community and say, hey, I do this, what do you do? Can we combine, you know, your piece of pottery with my ice cream and we’ll deliberate or people can come and pick it up.

Mary Rowe [00:58:41] This is the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup approach to economic innovation. Chocolate met peanut butter and then, by accident and then you got, only some people know what I’m talking about, but there you go. Thanks, Jake. Charles, what is your sort of watchword? What would you encourage people to pursue?

Charles Montgomery [00:59:00] Number one, I’m going to take Michael’s advice. I love your piece about committing a thousand dollars to a local business that you support over the long run. I’m going to do it. Thank you, Michael. I think we need to remember that everybody’s budgets are tight. But guess what? Tactical responses on on local streets and main streets. They’re almost free. We just need some traffic cones and some paint and we can do it. And we’re experimenting now. Let’s do more. Let’s do it quickly. Second of all, I think we need to say,  acknowledge that recovery is not replication of what was. We’re heading towards something new. Let’s be open to experimentation. So I’m saying let more happen on land. Maybe your next favorite business emerges in your neighbour’s garage, for example. So let’s be more flexible. Let’s be more open. Take the chains off.

Mary Rowe [00:59:49] The shackles are being released as we speak. Charles’ basement has been liberated and together together we are bringing back Main Street, everybody. So thank you for joining us. If you could send us photographs, please, to hashtag bring back Main Street and tag us at @CanUrb or e-mail it to we really want to see what’s going on. And again, the chat once again today was a knockout with a gazillion people putting great ideas and reports and options and ideas and the conversation never ends. As we talk about cities and how they’re evolving in a time of COVID. So thank you. Thanks. Folks are joining us very much. We’re really happy to have you. The conversation on this one is gonna go on for a long time.

Jake Stacey [01:00:39] Thanks, Mary.

Mary Rowe [01:00:44] Back for City Talk Thursday at noon Eastern. Thanks, everybody. Bye bye. Bye.

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact with “Chat Comments” in the subject line.

12:02:38          From Canadian Urban Institute:Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:03:16          From Canadian Urban Institute:Keep the conversation going #citytalk #bringbackmainstreet@canurb

12:04:54          From Venczel Gloria:Hello from North Vancouver!

12:04:58          From Canadian Urban Institute:You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at

12:05:18          From Lisa Mactaggart:Joining from Guelph, a city with beautiful main streets.

12:05:21          From Sakshi Nanda:Hello from Mumbai! Looking forward to this talk!

12:05:28          From alison to All panelists:Hello from International Ave in Calgary

12:05:50          From paul mackinnon:Micheal’s ideas about supporting local community as our best strategy is coming to fruition! Michael, what POLICY changes can we push for to help this effort, while gov’t is really listening.

12:05:54          From Maureen Luoma:Happy to be joining in from Sudbury BIA

12:06:16          From Janette MacDonald:Hi from London, Ontario. Hey Paul & Maureen!

12:06:26          From Gillian Mason:Hello from Scarborough with its abundance of strip malls and local spaces at the heart of multiple communities.

12:06:29          From Canadian Urban Institute:CUI is looking for volunteers to help us continue the great work of our COVID-19 initiatives. If you can help, please contact us at

12:06:31          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff:Today’s panel:


Charles Montgomery –



Michael Shuman –


Jake Stacey –



Judith Veresuk –

Regina Downtown Staff

12:07:06          From 0 Jamieson to All panelists:Walter here from Ryerson University.

12:07:30          From Frances Wilbur to All panelists:hello from Peterborough. A new website to help our downtown, worth checking out.

12:08:22          From Kay Matthews:Hi from the Ontario BIA Association (OBIAA). Kay Matthews –

12:08:51          From Brian Yeomans:Hello from Brian Yeomans, Downtown Windsor BIA (DWBIA)

12:09:58          From Jonathan Giggs:from Port Credit in Mississauga

12:10:16          From Alyssa Valente:Hello from Toronto!

12:10:33          From Amy Calder to All panelists:hello from west end of Toronto!

12:10:41          From Howaida Hassan to All panelists:Hello! Howaida from the City of Edmonton.

12:10:55          From Michael Shuman:You can learn more about my points on my blogs at

12:11:11          From Canadian Urban Institute:Reminding attendees to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:11:35          From Laurel Davies Snyder:Hello from London, ONT home of 5 BIAs and many traditional main streets.

12:11:36          From Chinelo Enemuo:Hello from Nigeria!

12:11:58          From Howaida Hassan:Hello! Howaida Hassan from the City of Edmonton

12:12:34          From alison:Hello again from International Ave in Calgary. Calgary’s Culinary and Cultural

12:12:49          From Lenore Swystun:Really appreciate these sessions. Judith, great to see you representing Saskatchewan. – Lenore from Saskatoon

12:12:55          From Mark Campbell:Hi from Roncesvalles Village, in Toronto.

12:13:41          From paul mackinnon:Hi from Halifax! Great to ‘see’ some familiar faces and names!

12:13:46          From Mike Mattos:Please address how retail on main street can survive with reduced traffic and high rents/drastic tax increases. Any developer will want to build condos near transit, NOT retail. SO retailers are doomed until those issues are addressed.

12:14:18          From Alyssa Valente:Queen St West!

12:14:19          From Chantal Tranchemontagne to All panelists:Hello from Cornwall, ON!

12:14:19          From Mary Kenny:Halifax

12:14:21          From Frances Wilbur:hello from Peterborough. A new website to help our downtown, worth checking out.

12:14:21          From Mariyan Boychev:Hi from Toronto

12:14:24          From Melissa L to All panelists:Hi from Vancouver!

12:14:31          From Michael Gallant:Hello from Peterborough!

12:14:33          From Christy Chrus to All panelists:Hi from the Town of Whitby! (2 historic main streets – Downtown Whitby and Downtown Brooklin)

12:14:34          From Debi Croucher:Hello from Downtown Windsor BIA

12:14:34          From Dominic Ali to All panelists:Yonge Street in Toronto

12:14:37          From Belinda Wick-Graham:small town Minto Ontario (Clifford, Harriston and Palmerston)

12:14:39          From Lisa Thomson-Roop:Hello from Downtown Orillia Ontario!

12:14:41          From Tanya FInk:Hello from Vancouver

12:14:41          From Heather Bennett:Bloor Street Toronto

12:14:41          From Mike Mattos:From Mount Dennis in Toronto, a focus area for redevelopment on the Crosstown LRT

12:14:42          From Gillian Mason:Hello from Scarborough with its abundance of strip malls and local spaces at the heart of multiple communities.

12:14:42          From Diane Kalen-Sukra to All panelists:Hello from Kootenays, BC!

12:14:42          From reg nalezyty:Hello from Thunder Bay

12:14:43          From Sara Hines to All panelists:Hi from Bloordale in Toronto!

12:14:44          From Eric Bergeron:Hello from Cornwall

12:14:44          From Jennifer Roth:Hello from Downtown Hamilton!

12:14:46          From Valerie Fox:Hi from Cabbagetown Toronto

12:14:55          From Francesca MacKinnon:Hello from Montreal!

12:14:57          From Felipe Canavera:Hello from Edmonton Alberta!!!!!!

12:14:58          From Kitty Yung:Hi from City of Vaughan

12:15:00          From Jean-Marc Mangin:Hi from Montreal

12:15:00          From Claudia McKoy:Hello from Brampton

12:15:01          From Nancy Arsenault:Comox BC, tourism industry training and development focus

12:15:02          From Ralph Cipolla to All panelists:hello from Orillia ontario

12:15:03          From James Vaclavek:Hello from County of Wellington!

12:15:09          From Katherine Danks:Hello from midtown Toronto

12:15:12          From Tanya FInk:Hello from Vancouver!

12:15:16          From alison:My concern is that e-commerce could take away the need for brick and mortar storefronts which will lead to even more issues.

12:15:16          From Donald McConnell:Hello from Downtown Sault Ste. Marie

12:15:17          From Olusola Olufemi to All panelists:Oakville downtown

12:15:20          From Robyn Small to All panelists:From St. Lawrence Market BIA 🙂

12:15:24          From Tracy Tang:Hello, from the lovely lake-side City of Burlington. Go Brant Street and Lakeshore’s downtown.

12:15:26          From Dana Kripki:Hi from Saskatoon

12:15:27          From Trevor Davison:Hello from Calgary!

12:15:32          From Ivana Osojnicki:Hi from Kitchener!

12:15:32          From Wendy Gaertner to All panelists:Hello from Aurora,

12:15:54          From Nora Cottrill to All panelists:Hi from Toronto’s waterfront !

12:16:07          From Eunan Quinn:Checking in from Letterkenny, Ireland….huge parallels for the experiences here, particularly in relation to how quickly local stakeholders are mobilizing.

12:16:14          From Leasa Gibbons:Love this discussion – way to go Judith! It’s Leasa Gibbons with Regina’s Warehouse Business Improvement District. We get shit done!

12:16:17          From Dave Waldron:Wondering what the panelists thoughts are about deciding how much public space (roadways, etc.) should be used for restaurant/cafe/retail ‘spread’ while taking into account all needed uses, including mobility and access to businesses? What would be your criteria?

12:16:20          From alison:We have over 40 languages spoken on our stree

12:16:25          From alison:t

12:16:49          From Gil Penalosa:Hello Gil Penalosa, 8 80 Cities and living in Toronto, in middle of 3 great main streets: Roncy, Bloor West, Junction. All suffering, local business closing.

12:16:53          From RANDALL SHARP to All panelists:Randy Sharp West Broadway Vancouver

12:16:55          From Lester Brown:Why does Vancouver have a more robust Credit Union System than Toronto.? We have Credit Unions in Toronto but having lived in BC, I know that the Credit Unions are more robust there.

12:16:59          From Nadine Tischhauser:Hi from Riga, Latvia!

12:17:15          From alison:it has been very stressful seeing the suffering of ma and pa shops

12:17:29          From James McCallan:Hi all! Joining from the town of Montreal-West, and rooting for our community hubs and businesses along Westminster.

12:17:32          From Frank Miele:Hi from Ryerson Local Economic Development Certificate program which has BIAs and Downtown Revitalization as main discussion activities with our participants.

12:17:38          From Maureen Luoma:Question from Downtown Sudbury BIA ( – how can we effectively expand the use of public space (for both restaurants and retailers) while at the same time not impacting or further creating a loss of on street parking, strengthening the opportunity for safe-distancing, etc

12:17:45          From Lester Brown:In The Distillery but interested in having robust main streets throughout Toronto.

12:18:10          From Abby S:If we recognize the importance of independents, and the role that restaurants in particular play, both in terms of supporting families, the point of entry for newcomers who may start small establishments as well as contributing to the vibrancy of Main Street…how do we change the model with regard to real estate and rentals as ownership of Main Street moves from landlord to bigger landlord and make if unaffordable for any establishment other than chain stores?

12:18:20          From Marty Williams:Hello from Downtown Guelph (Ontario).

12:18:20          From 0 Jamieson:Walter here from Ryerson University looking at the relationship of tourism/visitor industry and Man Streets.

12:18:22          From alison:Sudbury, our City relaxed sidewalks for patios

12:18:23          From Joanne Pickard to All panelists:Hello from Midland Ontario

12:19:02          From Maureen Luoma:Thanks Alison – we are currently in that discussion with the City and look like we will have the fees waived for this year

12:19:09          From alison:Business Revitalization Zones too

12:20:15          From paul mackinnon:Judith is the excellent chair of IDA (International Downtown Association) Canada. If there are BIDs on this call who are not involved, please reach out to Judith. We want to ensure we are well connected.

12:20:17          From alison:Hurrah!

12:20:44          From LoriAnn Girvan:Greetings from Artscape – artists and cultural organizations are part of the heart, health and hope of main streets of all forms!

12:21:38          From alison:Our bike shop is crazy busy-good news

12:21:39          From Geraldine Cahill:Hi, Geraldine Cahill, listening from Toronto. Director, UpSocial Canada and Chair, Jane’s Walk Steering Committee. Super interested in supporting main street surviving/thriving.

12:21:46          From Jennifer Roth:Hamilton also just passed policy to open up streets and parking lots for outdoor patios.

12:22:26          From alison:What is everyones experience with social disorder on your street during the pandemic?

12:22:31          From Lester Brown:Happy to see Charles on this panel. Great ideas.

12:22:43          From Sara Udow to All panelists:Hello – Sara from PROCESS here in Toronto. Have worked with BIAs affected from construction in TO and working with arts and culture across the GTHA. Interested in role of main streets in suburban settings (in addition to Toronto)

12:22:46          From Abby S:How does food security play into this conversation…there are neighbourhoods with no access to services at all…walkable or not.

12:22:50          From Maureen Luoma:Hi Jennifer – would you happen to have a link that you can share for this info??

12:22:55          From Mike Mattos:SOcial DIsorder is doing well

12:22:56          From Sara Udow:Hello – Sara from PROCESS here in Toronto. Have worked with BIAs affected from construction in TO and working with arts and culture across the GTHA. Interested in role of main streets in suburban settings (in addition to Toronto)

12:23:23          From alison:not in Alberta only business

12:23:40          From Gillian Mason:Social order fine in Scarb

12:24:11          From Venczel Gloria:Small Businesses, the providers of public spaces or the “third place” where people could meet their neighbours and build community in MetroVancouver, were already on the edge of closing because of speculation/taxes and the resulting triple net leases. Now with covid- another large hit, can neighbourhoods afford to give up on public spaces/social resilience provided by small businesses in the time of climate change + covid?

12:24:20          From Mike Mattos:Shootings and domestic violence has decreasd in Scarboro?

12:24:22          From 0 Jamieson:Given Mary’s expansion of discussion can we deal with poverty in the Main Street agenda

12:24:33          From Robert Plitt:Do we have a sense of the cities across the country that either have or don’t have significant numbers of “Main Streets”.

12:25:02          From Abby S:@Robert great question. Define Main Street

12:25:16          From Abby S:vs neighbourhood

12:25:21          From Nadine Tischhauser:Here in the Baltics: there was a good article on how the capital Vilnius in Lithuania is giving more open space to cafés and bars to allow social distancing.

12:25:33          From alison:We have ten foot sidewalks from our new redesign so patios are easier for us

12:25:45          From Robert Plitt:One could suggest that the main streets in Calgary are 1950’s strip malls which are not walkable. How do we connect creative mobility solutions to these types of environemtnes.

12:25:47          From Kay Matthews:OBIAA has a list of communities across Ontario who do not have main streets and will be uploading this to ARCGIS over the summer

12:26:11          From Marisa Williams:Marisa from Caledon – how do we encourage landowners to lease their vacant storefronts rather than leaving them empty with the expectation that they can sell to land developers?

12:26:24          From Abby S:CSA—model

12:26:42          From Abby S:There are a few in Toronto area who have done this…(Montifiore Cheese)

12:26:43          From Venczel Gloria:Would love to hear more about curbside management on Main Street and the opportunities that covid has opened up with the new context?

12:26:58          From Mike Mattos:Tax policy has to penalize empty buildings

12:27:11          From Amy Calder to All panelists:What is preferable for a main street restaurant during covid recovery: facilitating delivery and curbside pick up, or increasing pedestrian traffic and enabling the creation of dedicated patio spaces?

12:27:20          From Tim Lee:Hi all! Hamilton’s comprehensive Zoning By-law introduced new commercial and mixed use zones in 2017 where the intent is to be flexible. Retail is any retail! Restaurant is any type of restaurant! All but one commercial zone permits residential uses. The intent is to improve our commercial main streets

12:27:22          From Jennifer Roth:Marisa – short term rental leases, low risk to future sales to developers.

12:27:35          From Olusola Olufemi to All panelists:Most Main streets in Developing Countries are disorderly and chaotic because of the informal sector and informal street trading, hawking activities that has taken over these streets thus blurring the meaning of space/place making and putting organised local businesses on the back seat. How can we possibly begin to bring order to these streets and intentionally separate informal trading from pedestrian and vehicular traffic? I know these issues are quite different from what obtains here in North America.

12:27:59          From alison:We have done research about community development corporations to redevelop land on our street

12:28:12          From Amy Calder:What is preferable for a main street restaurant during covid recovery: facilitating delivery and curbside pick up, or increasing pedestrian traffic and enabling the creation of dedicated patio spaces?


12:28:16          From alison:Will be in our wheelhouse here

12:28:34          From Lester Brown:I am one of the founders of CCEC, a community credit union in BC. We need more of these.

12:29:03          From alison:Co-operative based businesses which are owned by the community is the way forward

12:29:37          From Dave Waldron:Vancity’s Unity fund is an excellent idea! Happy, to invest in it with RRSP investment! When does Vancity expand (or at least its values) across BC, etc.?

12:29:47          From Patty Cuttell:Joining late — but want to give a shout out to Radish in Montreal who has developed a consolidated cooperative delivery platform / service.

12:30:05          From Patty Cuttell:Look at how to do something similar in Halifax.

12:30:33          From Mike Mattos:IS a guaranteed annual income a fundamental need to enable main street to survive?

12:30:47          From Robert Plitt:Kay, would love to see that study and learn about the methodology. Can it be replicated across the country?

12:31:11          From alison:Love to have VanCity on our street! Need to expand into Alberta please

12:31:55          From Gil Penalosa:Charles, you touched a great point. without density, main streets will disappear; COVID is just making it much faster. How to ‘piggy-back’ in the crisis to change land use regulations, as Minneapolis did citywide and Oregon did statewide. We need to be able to split current homes, easy and fast. Also to promote 4 – 10 stories on all arterials. It’s about economic development, physical / mental health, AND climate change. Urgency.

12:32:45          From LoriAnn Girvan:few main street businesses are property owners but still get the high cost of taxes passed on without getting upside of the value they create – there is an opportunity to extend opportunities like community land trusts to acquire and steward affordability for independent and NFP commercial and retail enterprises.

12:33:27          From alison:Problem with trade agreements regarding procurement.

12:33:37          From Ronny Yaron:Why can’t federal and provincial govt do something to affect the huge rents for retail which is the largest expense of retail enterprises ? The landlords are often speculators who don’t care if their tenants go bankrupt ?

12:34:05          From Gillian Mason:Yes: a lifetime in Scarborough

12:34:17          From Gillian Mason:yes: we do live in the blocks that surround that are.. these are our main streets.

12:34:37          From ALAN KAN:Mississauga has very few main streets except in isolated areas

12:34:38          From Michael Shuman:Start more community land trusts for both housing AND commercial centers…

12:34:43          From Robert Plitt:Would love to hear more about co-operatives. I think this is a huge opportunity. According to Future of Good, 70% of small and medium sized businesses in Canada will transfer ownership in the next decade. Huge opportunity for new co-operative worker owned models

12:35:26          From alison:Robert Pitt talk to me later. I’ve been working with some great partners on this

12:35:41          From Jennifer Roth:Where was the ‘flex zone’

12:35:46          From Sara Udow:Agree with LoriAnn. We are exploring community land trust opportunities some with some of our municipal clients in the GTA but its not something many are aware of/how to do it is seen as a huge barrier/difficult.

12:35:55          From Venczel Gloria:For small business to thrive, cities new sources of taxation, cities need a “new green deal”! Cities have revenue from only property taxes to run a wildly expanded set of services, as downloaded from senior gov’ts because cities are the junior partner, outside of roads, sewers and parks to include affordable housing, social service funding for youth programs etc..

12:35:56          From Robert Plitt:To Mary’s point this is a multi-solving challenge. Density tied to ramping up immigration.

12:36:18          From Trevor Davison:Robert Plitt that last point was for you. You might want to read up on Calgary’s Main Streets Projects.

12:36:37          From Abby S:@alison I also want more info on worker owned co-ops similar to Arizmendi in Oakland…and Hot Bread Kitchen in NYC

12:36:43          From Jake Stacey:We are very familiar with working with Land Trusts – feel free to contact me about how we do that

12:37:02          From alison:We have an agreement with our City to control our public square. Can use as we see fit to create vibrancy

12:37:11          From Trevor Davison:

12:37:15          From Samira Farahani to All panelists:perfect Charles, feel better and provide more stuffs

12:37:20          From Gillian Mason:City of Toronto is looking at leveraging its investment in the extension of the LRT in Scarborough to bring the main streets to life!

12:37:36          From Heather Bennett:All the neighbourhood grocery stores that existed in TO and people could walk to where the biz owners lived upstairs. have all been turned into single family homes; Suburbia could adopt this ‘’old model”!

12:37:54          From Gillian Mason:Centre for Connected Communities worked with local community and local plazas to express their preferences for their community.

12:38:07          From Jake Stacey:

12:38:10          From Venczel Gloria:@Heather- 100%

12:38:25          From Gillian Mason:Yes: connecting with each other, and having places to do that, is critical and missing in many of our Scarborough retail hearts.

12:39:05          From Kay Matthews:The beauty about Main streets is their resilient. This is why they have been around for the whole time that Canada has exists.

12:39:20          From Leasa Gibbons:Woot! Woot! Thanks Judith! Mainstreet is the comfort zone as people look to support local.

12:39:29          From Sara Udow:Thank you Jake!

12:39:48          From Ralph Cipolla:is beautification the key to survival of main streets

12:40:24          From Antoni Wisniowski:Is it time for local governments to rethink the tax ratio between commercial and residential properties. While it will result in a shift to residential property owners, it can be considered a form of investment in local businesses. This crisis may provide a unique opportunity for a discussion on a reset.

12:40:24          From Lester Brown:What will be the impact on commercial areas if more people work at home. I find that commercial activity more than just residential attracts new businesses or sustains those there.

12:40:29          From Gillian Mason:Community affinity with one or two businesses: critical to understand.

12:41:17          From Bernard Hellen to All panelists:I am late to the party but isn’t Amazon and other online retailers the issue here? After a couple of months online how do we convince people to go back to offline shopping?

12:41:37          From Leasa Gibbons:Well said Judith – so many hours spent finding solutions for small business. They are so busy hustling to stay alive, they need support building long term (which might be a week out these days).

12:41:42          From Canadian Urban Institute:Welcome new joiners! Just a reminder to please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:41:50          From Lester Brown:Excellent point Antoni. People in North Bay can’t believe how little we Torontonians pay in residential property tax.

12:42:00          From Ronny Yaron:No one reacted to my question about whether some govt legislation could affect exorbitant rents that retail have to pay……the largest expense…..aaawhy is this not a topic of discussion ?

12:42:14          From Gillian Mason:Thank you Jake. Incidentally, Scarborough Business Ass’n offering session on cash flow for small and medium businesses tomorrow morning.

12:42:32          From Heather Bennett:We’ve wanted to have places to just sit and watch the world go by, but those are deemed to ‘attract the homeless’ so have not been installed. It seems to me that beautification and welcome are critical!

12:42:48          From Venczel Gloria:Main Street needs a local anchor plus a myriad of local small businesses who have their finger on the pulse of neighbourhood needs.

12:43:25          From Sakshi Nanda:Hi Charles! What are your views on high density cities all around the world? and the impact on public transport? I recently read Happy City, great book! I am a recently graduate architect from Mumbai.

12:43:48          From Caitlin Ottenbreit:How do “free” spaces like parks and libraries factor into main streets? Public libraries are major draws for a major cross section of the population, and draw all kind of folks into one centre – does this impact where/how main streets thrive?

12:43:55          From Ralph Cipolla:is tenant mix the saviour of main streets

12:44:17          From Elizabeth Jassem to All panelists:Hello to Everyone, you’re are the best Jake! SHARING SPACE is such super idea… and even known for decades, still re- discouvering ..

12:44:42          From alison:Am loving this discussion. You are speaking my mantra!

12:45:02          From Janell Ranae Rempel:@CaitlineO: I’m also thinking about the great potential of partnerships with public libraries…

12:45:13          From Abby S:It is almost a gift card model expanded…purchase ahead of time..

12:45:33          From Elizabeth Jassem to All panelists:Thank you Mary for your hard work..

12:45:52          From LoriAnn Girvan:Re commercial taxes – City of Toronto is expanding its Creative Co-location Facilities property tax subclass championed by arts hubs in Toronto in 2018 to music venues for covid recovery – opening in the window further on tax tools

12:46:13          From Jaffer M:here on the other side of the pond in London, we have multiple “main streets”, not just places in the absolute centre of the city, but areas have their own “main street”, so we don’t have to take a car/train to the centre for everyday basics. Polycentricity…also helps with COVID, things being nearby

12:46:26          From Patty Cuttell:@LoriAnn – that is amazing.

12:46:46          From Canadian Urban Institute:You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at


12:46:54          From Michael Shuman to Patty Cuttell and all panelists:Nice to see you here!

12:47:19          From Geraldine Cahill:Great news @LoriAnn

12:47:20          From Patty Cuttell:Hi Michael!

12:47:38          From alison:Interesting discussion but I think e-commerce is a huge threat as well.

12:47:41          From Christy Chrus to All panelists:Businesses may need to rethink how they use their bricks and mortar space – can they consider flex space to co-locate multiple businesses within one storefront? Or use part of store as warehousing space and retail space?

12:48:00          From Antoni Wisniowski to All panelists:I think that municipal deficits are a slippery slope. Municipalities have the ability for capital financing through bonds, which are limited by the municipalities ability to service their debt within the constraint of their existing budgets. I think we should exhaust the concept of backstop support from the provincial and federal levels who already have the ability to run deficits.

12:48:34          From KIERON HUNT:I think it is important to define main streets dependent upon whether they are in a downtown urban environment or whether they are in smaller secondary or rural communities. In Canada we have so many small communities that have “main streets” that need to be looked at with an eye to how they can be reinvigorated in a way that is compatible with the community’s needs. In a small community, developers are usually local players and not the big players with the financial savvy and capable of doing mixed-use developments. For small main streets in smaller rural communities infill can’t always be mandated for mixed-use, but it can be a good single level use if the design guidelines are set out well within the context of safer and healthier streets and sidewalks. If COVID has taught us anything it is how much local businesses give back to their communities and I feel that coming out of COVID, main streets should be the beneficiary of consumers giving back to those local businesses.

12:48:36          From Gil Penalosa:An easy, simple action is to eliminate car parking and double the size of sidewalk to keep physical distance. Seems obvious. But mayors like Toronto’s choose car parking over people walking, with tiny exceptions. BIA and non-organized business need to be more open minded, trial and error, pressure politicians. Have cars parking on side streets or back of stores. Make shopping fun, exciting, joyful.

12:49:17          From Canadian Urban Institute:Keep the conversation going #citytalk #bringbackmainstreet @canurb

12:49:22          From Geraldine Cahill:Waterloo University is running a Legacy Leadership Lab looking at exactly this

12:49:32          From Venczel Gloria:Without a “New Green Deal for Cities”, only chain stores could afford the rents. A Main St full of chain stores , who are the only ones that can afford the high taxation rates, generally have their genesis in malls, have large marketing budgets, do not understand a “sense of place” and public spaces that build social resilience and enhance civil society in times of change, like covid + the climate crisis. Can someone speak to that?

12:49:48          From Mike Mattos:Main Street needs e-commerce, shopping is the buggy whip of the 21st century. Main Street is about services now

12:49:50          From Eunan Quinn:The speed with which many local businesses adapted to an online presence was dramatic. As Mary cites it does not suit all small or micro entrprises i.e those that need people through the door to get a particular service.

12:50:16          From Geraldine Cahill:“the Legacy Leadership Lab will develop market interventions and prototypes that allow conventional and social finance players, business service providers, and community leaders to facilitate social purpose conversions of existing businesses in their own towns.”

12:50:48          From Canadian Urban Institute:For more information go to:

12:50:59          From Heather Bennett:The suggestion has been that people 50+ will move to smaller centres how might they be encouraged/supported to revitalize such communities?

12:51:00          From Michael Shuman:Here’s the handbook I mentioned:

12:51:08          From Mike Mattos:Parking within 50m is key, not necessarily on street. But definitely NOT on adjoining residential streets!

12:51:42          From alison:100% Charles-tax is key

12:52:08          From paul mackinnon:Research (Gehl, etc.) shows that ground floor drives value for upper floors. We need a restructuring of rent and taxes to alleviate the cost burden on ground floor.

12:52:25          From Kay Matthews:As well as leveling the levels of Red Tape – Provincial, Federal, Municipal and Regional…

12:52:30          From Mike Mattos:tax and parking are opposite sides of the same coin – municipal budgets!

12:52:46          From Venczel Gloria:@Charles M.- it’s very difficult for a muni to decide who is a small business and who isn’t. Many have turned it down in BC. Need a “New Green Deal for Cities”.

12:53:14          From Kay Matthews:There should be a “Main Street Class” of business – officially…

12:53:24          From Gil Penalosa:Promote riding a bicycle to main streets.

‘Lockdown is opportunity of a lifetime for bike lanes’

12:53:47          From Robert Plitt:Alison how can I reach you?

12:53:59          From

12:54:00          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff:Help us improve our CityTalk programming and tell us what you want to see –

12:54:13          From LoriAnn Girvan:we are focusing on main streets futures vis a vis consumers but COVID has exposed the vulnerability of essential workers who are the backbone of these enterprises – new models – like workers coops – must also incorporate decent wages and health access

12:54:51          From Ronny Yaron:What about the exorbitant rents on main streets ? Only francises can survive !!

12:54:54          From alison:Nice! Michael Shuman very true

12:54:55          From Heather Bennett:Main Street has to be really appealing to aging boomers who won’t be able to/shouldn’t drive in coming years!

12:55:18          From Venczel Gloria:Our Canadian taxation system was set up in 1867, with a few small updates since, -when we were an agrarian and fur trading nation. We are now an urban nation, with cities the main economic drivers of the country. Need a “New Green Deal for Cities”.

12:55:29          From Canadian Urban Institute:CUI is looking for volunteers to help us continue the great work of our COVID-19 initiatives. If you can help, please contact us at

12:56:40          From Ariana Holt:Check out our memo on Types of Main Streets Across Canada. Let us what you think. Does this cover the types of main streets in your community?

12:56:48          From Antoni Wisniowski:Current tax ratios are a aberration and an anachronism. It will require very bold leadership to rebalance the ledgers. This is the time and opportunity for such leadership.

12:56:49          From Frank Murphy:So many good ideas. Re-localizing investment and finance for one. Terrific discussion, thanks everyone.

12:57:06          From Samira Farahani:exactly Judith! wait too long and studying too much

12:57:15          From Lester Brown:In 1974, several of us sat down and realized that nobody, including Van City, were willing to risk financing community/cooperative businesses. We formed CCEC and it still operates today.

12:57:33          From TJ Maguire:The Broedplaats program in Amsterdam is an inspiring example of revitalizing spaces with arts and culture. “Every year, a special bureau of the city council, Bureau Broedplaatsen, creates over 10.000 m2 of new space for artists each year. A Broedplaats is always temporary and lasts for 3 to 10 years.”:

12:57:37          From Abby S:@Robert would love to discuss co-ops further as well.

12:57:55          From Gil Penalosa:3 actions? Density, density, density on main streets and all arterials. Allow houses behind the main, with some divisions, but change and promote 4-10 stories where you have 1-3.

12:57:59          From alison:Jump on opportunities as they become available. Most be nimble organizations

12:58:25          From Nader Shureih:Very much agree with the sentiment regarding nimbleness. Agility in decision-making can come with the right insights. There’s lots of data out there. Taking advantage of it can provide agile decision-making capacity for municipalities and BIAs of all sizes

12:58:39          From Eunan Quinn:Great to see what is energising the chat across the Atlantic….and to know that there are similarities all over the place.

12:59:39          From Abby S::) @mary

12:59:40          From Tim Lee:For the future, flexible zoning is key in Main Streets. Zoning is the last thing businesses want as a problem. Permitted uses should be flexible as possible.

13:00:21          From Tracy Tang:The pandemic has been a business disruptor like never seen in recent memory other than the 2008 recession. Maybe we should be rethinking businesses and commerce through entrepreneurship, innovation and multi-downtowns. Expand e-commerce, delivery systems, more services within homes (home-based businesses), multi-space ownership, bring back people in homes closer to the downtowns, better use of land (low rise buildings with residences and businesses below, unique funding with partners.

13:00:25          From Amy Calder:density along main streets is great, but let’s make sure it’s livable density. increasing standards for managing noise of main streets for residents, like better soundproofing in residential buildings. We can cut down some of the conflicts that often come up between main street business, street life and residents

13:00:29          From Patty Cuttell:Taxation is part of it, but so is the entire market. What is really driving costs on Mainstreet rental? Interest rates are super low, there is more Mainstreet commercial spaces then ever before thanks to urban building codes requiring ground level commercial, etc. — yet rental rates higher than ever. I think the whole system top to bottom needs to be reconsidered. Banks, landlords, and municipality together. Need to make Mainstreet small businesses more of an economic priority.

13:00:31          From LoriAnn Girvan:@Mary – You got peanut butter in my chocolate!

13:00:35          From Abby S:What this pandemic has shown is that if there is a will, things can happen at light speed

13:00:36          From alison:Thanks CUI for an awesome session! Well done.

13:00:41          From Venczel Gloria:While financial tools are important, there has to be a vision for reinventing Main with covid + climate change. Then throw money at it.

13:00:49          From Ryan Walker:Excellent panelists; a real highlight to hear from Judith in Regina

13:00:59          From Abby S:@patty…yes…it is the entire system

13:01:00          From Lester Brown:Glad Day bookstore was developed by many of the LGBTQ community each putting up $1,000.

13:01:03          From Alyssa Valente:thank you to all the Panelists!! such a great discussion!!

13:01:05          From Janette MacDonald:Great session folks.

13:01:07          From Sara Hines to All panelists:This was great! Thank you.

13:01:11          From Camila Uriona to All panelists:Great conversation! Thank you all!

13:01:13          From Eva Salinas to All panelists:Great discussion – thank you!

13:01:16          From Laurel Davies Snyder to All panelists:Excellent session. Need a Part II.

13:01:17          From Lester Brown:Thank you panelists.

13:01:21          From Catherine Creager:Great panel, thanks everyone!

13:01:22          From Abby S:Thank you panelists!

13:01:22          From alison:Bye All!!!

13:01:24          From Todd Mitchell:Thank you panelists.

13:01:25          From Dawn Pond:excellent panel! Thank you!

13:01:25          From Eva Salinas to All panelists:I hope Hamilton is listening!

13:01:26          From Eva Chu:Really enjoyed this talk!!! Thanks so much 🙂

13:01:27          From LoriAnn Girvan:thank you – great panel!

13:01:27          From Eunan Quinn:Thanks to everyone.

13:01:28          From Emily Wall, CUI Staff:Help us improve our CityTalk programming and tell us what you want to see –

13:01:28          From Patty Cuttell:thanks!

13:01:29          From Elizabeth MacLeod:Thanks all!

13:01:30          From Tracy Tang:Thank you. An excellent webinar. marsha in Burlington.

13:01:30          From James McCallan:Thanks!

13:01:32          From Amelia Hall:Thanks!

13:01:33          From Amy Calder:thanks to the host and panelists!

13:01:39          From Ramyata Ambilwade to All panelists:Thanks

13:01:50          From Ralph Cipolla:thank from orillia

13:01:51          From Carley Bringeland:Thanks everyone!

13:01:55          From Lisa Mactaggart:the Guelph Box is an innovative service to help small business survive.

13:02:04          From Lisa Mactaggart:thank you

13:02:15          From Chinelo Enemuo:Thanks everyone. Really enjoyed this!

13:02:17          From Maureen Luoma:Thanks to everyone – – only one complaint – it was too short LOL

13:02:20          From Elizabeth Jassem to All panelists:SUPER DISCUSSION MARY – EVERYONE!! THANK YOU

13:08:38          From Canadian Urban Institute:Thanks for participating in the chat! Please leave your final comments, links and references now as we will close the chat in a few minutes.

13:11:07          From Mary Shaughnessy to All panelists:Is the chat available to download in any way?

13:13:00          From Canadian Urban Institute:Yes! it will be available at within 48 hours.