Downtown Revitalization

Do you wish to revitalize your downtown?

Downtown Revitalization (DR) program provides training and support to implement comprehensive revitalization initiatives.

What is Downtown Revitalization?

When it comes to revitalizing a downtown, people often think of structural and tangible improvements. However, frequently there is more to the picture than the appearance of the downtown. Each downtown has its own unique architecture, cultural traditions, heritage, human talents and other assets to build on. A successful DR project focuses not only on a community's buildings and structures but on many factors including: the demography of the area, overall attractiveness to investors, and the impression a community gives visitors. The "four point approach" to DR includes:

  1. Economic Development - Assists merchants in targeting new customer/market segments and identifies new businesses opportunities that could complement the downtown mix.
  2. Leadership and Management - Engages all downtown stakeholders in the enhancement and improvement of all aspects of the downtown's operation by ensuring the coordination of efforts and that the implementation of the strategy developed is managed to maximize the downtown's revitalization opportunities.
  3. Marketing and Promotion - Ensures the identity and positive image of the downtown is communicated and that activities enhance the downtown.
  4. Physical Improvements - Restores facades, streetscaping, parking, safe and walkable communities.

The DR initiative is aimed at communities that:

  1. Have at least 50 commercial enterprises or 70 structures or storefronts in the downtown.
  2. Have a population of under 100,000.
  3. Have the capacity to undertake a long-term project.
  4. Have completed one or more related programs or resources such as First Impressions Community Exchange and/or Business Retention and Expansion.

Why is it important?

Merchants, property owners, residents, community organizations and local government all benefit from a healthy, vibrant downtown. DR is a process of improving the economic, management, physical and social well-being of a community's traditional town centre by:

  • Strengthening local businesses, and encouraging investment by building and property owners.
  • Creating enjoyable public streets and spaces animated by a variety of creative and civic activities.
  • Providing work and living opportunities for residents.

What is the Downtown Revitalization Process?

The DR initiative follows a "4 stage process":

  1. Organizing and Scoping - This stage involves: engaging stakeholders (citizens, business owners, heritage groups, etc); forming a Management Committee, hiring and training a Coordinator, holding a public "Launch" of the project, collecting existing studies, reports, etc., preparing a preliminary Work Plan, and undertaking a "visioning" exercise.
  2. Collecting and Assessing - This stage involves the completion of up to five market analysis tools which include: the Building and Business Inventory, the Business Mix Analysis, the Business Owner Survey, the Customer Origin Survey, and the Resident Survey. This stage may involve the community retaining the services of a Landscape Architect or other design professional to engage the community in the development of streetscape and façade design plans and perspective drawings that help provide the community with direction for the physical revitalization downtown.
  3. Planning and Prioritizing - The results from all of the surveys and analytical tools undertaken are considered and analyzed, a "Market Position Statement" is created for the downtown to guide the community in obtaining its vision "Goals" and "Activities" are identified and prioritized, "Action Plans" are developed and the "DR Strategy" is prepared, which will provide direction for the project for the next two years and beyond.
  4. Implementing and Monitoring Success - "Work Plans" are prepared to guide the implementation of the "Strategic Plan" and "Action Plans". Benchmarks are identified, and measures and success indicators are established, to monitor the success of the various initiatives in terms of the "Goals" originally established for the revitalization of the downtown.


  • Regional Economic Development Branch Advisors are available to provide guidance and advice throughout the process.
  • An in-depth step-by-step Coordinators Manual is provided, which includes electronic resources and templates.
  • Training and information sessions for Project Coordinators and community members to learn how to effectively coordinate and implement DR projects.

How do I get it?

Regional Economic Development Branch Advisors are available to provide additional information on the DR program. Contact an Advisor or call the Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300

Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 25 May 2011
Last Reviewed: 26 May 2017