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Design community issues COVID-19 main street challenge

Design community issues COVID-19 main street challenge

OTTAWA — Two design associations are issuing a Canada-wide challenge to develop solutions for the nation’s main streets both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Main Street Challenge, developed by the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC), “invites Canadians interested in place-making and design to develop resiliency solutions for Canada’s main streets,” a RAIC release stated.

“The main street of any city, town or urban centre, across Canada has the potential to be the vibrant and vital heart of the community. Our organization supports the investment and promotion of design excellence in this core component of the built environment,” RAIC president John Brown, FRAIC, said in the release.

“COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on Canada’s main streets. And as we look towards recovery, we know that the design community will play a critical role in developing creative solutions to help bring back our main streets,” CUI CEO Mary Rowe added.

The challenge is intended to demonstrate how design can play a key role in main street revitalization through restarting the economy and “fostering vibrant, liveable, and healthy communities, increasing public safety, reducing social isolation and restoring the public’s confidence to return to streets and public spaces,” the release said.

The challenge will also foster knowledge-sharing, collaboration and expanded access tools to rebuild communities during and after the global health emergency.

An online portal for submissions is available and all submissions that meet the project guidelines will be published online on a rolling basis in a free Main Street Design Playbook which will be released in full on Oct. 5, World Architecture Day.

Information and guidelines about the Main Street Challenge are available at

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