News from the Top

The Re-Invention of Our Identities and Roles

Chief Executive Officer, Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
Chair, IDA Canada Leadership Group

Across the country, Canadians are beginning to return to our neighbourhoods and districts. However, it’s not about getting back to normal. Instead, it is an opportunity to look more closely at the identity and role of our downtowns and main streets. It’s time for a bit of re-invention.  

Support programs provided by the Government of Canada have been critical in helping businesses survive over the last two years. From rent relief to wage subsidy programs, the support has been much appreciated but has not all been what we need or what is in the long-term best interests of our downtowns and main streets. We need more critical, long-term and innovative thinking. To that end, through IDA Canada, we are encouraging our federal government to work more with their provincial and municipal counterparts as well as the private sector to help re-think our downtowns and main streets.  

Over the last few years, business improvement associations across Canada have been working together to create change in our communities. Through the pandemic, we realized we need to be more focused and put greater effort into advocating for change federally. Together, we are 500 strong, with our associations representing an estimated 250,000 business and property owners in districts that contain billions of dollars in assessment and economic activity. Collectively, we represent businesses that employ millions of Canadians.  

IDA Canada’s efforts have shifted from networking and sharing to advocating with one single, clear voice. We are working with our MPs in Ottawa to move our priorities forward in three areas that impact all of our neighbourhoods.   

  • Street Issues are having a significant impact on our downtowns and main streets. As a result, IDA Canada is asking the Federal Government to take immediate action by working with and providing funding to provincial and municipal governments and their partners to help support low barrier shelters and safe spaces, inpatient addiction resources and harm reduction funding.   
  • Continued Small Business Assistance is needed not just to survive but to rejuvenate our local businesses devastated by the pandemic. Offices have remained closed and foot traffic has dramatically decreased. IDA Canada is thankful that Parliament has provided many critical supports to our small businesses but is calling for the expansion of the critical CEBA loans and continued financial support for shop local promotional programs. 
  • Infrastructure funding is being requested by IDA Canada to help stimulate the economy and revitalize our downtowns and main streets to make them more accessible and sustainable by continuing funding for the redesign and creation of complete streets, adaptation of public spaces for new cultural performances and social gatherings, and incorporation of more green thinking. 

Please visit the IDA Canada website to view the full Federal Priorities paper (EN | FR). 

This spring and summer, we are working with our colleagues to identify Urban Champions within the Canadian Parliament with whom we can work to address the many issues which have pre-existed or have developed in downtowns and on main streets during the pandemic. It is also the chance to capitalize on opportunities which exist to make the cores of Canadian communities stronger, more vibrant and vital. 

Save the date! Join the IDA Canada Policy Summit on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 in Vancouver, BC during IDA’s 68th Annual Conference & Marketplace. It is critical for us to come together to reassess our collective priorities to make further progress in seeking support from the Federal Government for downtowns and main streets.