As the downtown revitalization community of practice sessions have come to an end, we thought it would be a perfect time to reflect on the key learnings and benefits that these sessions provide to our clients. Community of Practice sessions are generally held as a knowledge transfer opportunity; these sessions aim to provide feedback, support, and guidance to those who wish to partake in a downtown revitalization initiative.
In partnership with OBIAA, three sessions were held to showcase the downtown revitalization program in each of the respective host communities. This year, these sessions were held in Port Hope, Alliston, and Renfrew, and hosted a total of 60 people from communities across southern Ontario.
- Downtown revitalization processes are flexible. Many communities were surprised to find out that while OMAFRA’s downtown revitalization process is comprehensive, it can be customized to fit the specific needs of a community.
- Learn from the experience of others. Other participants may have valuable insight into challenges your community is facing. Attending these sessions provides individuals with an opportunity to network, ask questions and share experiences. For example, representatives from the town of Minto were able to share their experience on how to survive “big dig” capital improvements to a downtown core at the Allison session. (see a presentation from those representatives, here).
- OMAFRA’s First Impression Community Exchange (FICE) can be a first step for communities interested in taking on a downtown revitalization initiative. FICE is a highly effective and fun community assessment process that provides an opportunity for communities to gain a fresh perspective on how they are seen through the eyes of first-time visitors.
Community of Practice sessions are hosted in communities that are at varying stages in their downtown revitalization program, and provide individuals with an understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with launching a downtown revitalization initiative. These sessions also create a collaborative environment in which individuals can ask OMAFRA specialists questions pertaining to personal community needs. For more information on Downtown Revitalization, http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/rural/edr/dr/index.html