The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Downtown Revitalization Program takes a comprehensive four-stage approach to support the efforts of rural communities who want to revitalize their historic downtowns. As part of the program, OMAFRA provides the Downtown Revitalization Coordinator’s Manual, which is designed to support communities that have identified downtown revitalization as an economic development priority. As with many of OMAFRA’s other program resources, the Downtown Revitalization Coordinator’s Manual is now available online, at no cost, just fill out the form on the OMAFRA website.The manual was written for the Coordinator responsible for downtown revitalization activities, and builds on leading practices to outline a step-by-step framework to guide downtown revitalization planning and implementation projects. The manual may also be useful for:
- Municipal planning and/or economic development staff who provide technical support like data gathering, assessment, and planning for downtown revitalization
- Municipal councillors and community business leaders who want to understand the costs and benefits of downtown revitalization before endorsing it
- Staff of local and regional economic development organizations – e.g. Business Improvement Areas, Chambers of Commerce – who are involved in downtown revitalization activities
The manual can be used by communities of varying sizes, from small rural hamlets to mid-sized cities. It emphasizes relatively low-cost and straightforward techniques that engage volunteers and build relationships among local organizations, while working towards the development of a common vision and goals for the downtown area.
Over the next few months, on this blog, we will take a closer look at some of the key parts of the downtown revitalization process, with some helpful tips for communities moving through each stage.