Recap: Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice

The second online Community of Practice for Ontario’s downtown revitalization community was held in late March. The participants learned about a range of ways in which physical improvements made to downtown areas have contributed to business success.

Here’s a quick summary:

Click here to download the introductory presentation.

  • Sean Kelly, founding partner of Stempski Kelly Associates Inc. and Director of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph offered insight into the benefits of physical improvements in the downtown area; the challenges posed by physical improvements pre- and post-development, and how to overcome them; and thoughts on how to handle completion of physical improvements on inter-jurisdictional infrastructure. Click here to download the presentation.
  • Dana Barnett, the Capital Projects Coordinator for the City of Belleville gave an overview of the $34.5 million Build Belleville project, including the larger scale capital projects completed (e.g. underground infrastructure, reconstruction of streetscape), smaller scale projects and programs implemented (e.g. façade improvement, gateway signage, banners, street furniture), strategies used to mitigate challenges with business continuity and resident perception, and early indicators of how the project is shaping revitalization in the downtown. Click here to download the presentation.
  • Brigid Ayotte, economic and community development co-ordinator for the Township of Cavan-Monaghan highlighted how large-scale (e.g. wastewater upgrades, asphalt resurfacing, new sidewalks) and small-scale (e.g. bike racks, barn quilts) physical improvements being made in Millbrook are supporting business success, and the strategies they have used to address business concerns since revitalization began. Click here to download the presentation.

I provided an update on OMAFRA programming, the format and objectives of the Community of Practice, and the recently launched Main Street Revitalization Initiative which is administered by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

Participants came from across Ontario (see figure below), with most representing municipalities (61%). Business improvement areas (12%) and federal or provincial government (12%) covered most of the remaining participants.

participant map

The objective is to see the distribution balanced further across Ontario, and the diversity of the group grow to include more participants from other organizations (e.g. not-for-profits, businesses). If you would like to join the DR COP mailing list, or have suggestions for future session topics, please contact me at 519-826-6634 or Stay tuned to this blog for information on our next session, tentatively scheduled for mid-June.

The online Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice (DR COP) was developed to provide a venue for practitioners with an interest in economic development or downtown development to promote leading practices, share success stories, and build capabilities for supporting downtown revitalization across the province on a quarterly basis.

OMAFRA facilitates and coordinates resources and tools to assist rural Ontario communities with engaging in economic development. For more information on OMAFRA’s Downtown Revitalization program, visit our website or call the Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 to connect with your Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor.



Leave a Reply