The Canadian Urban Institute, along with a growing coalition of partners, has launched a national research and advocacy campaign to ensure the people, businesses and organizations on Canada’s main streets can recover and emerge from the COVID-19 crisis more resilient than ever.
The campaign is working with policymakers to shape policies that can provide immediate relief for businesses, residents and communities, while also building tools for their full recovery as drivers of community wealth and neighbourhood vibrancy.
The partnership includes main street business leaders, academic research partners, industry and professional associations, BIAs/BIDs across Canada, government stakeholders and municipal recovery working groups, corporate endorsers, developers, industry and professional associations, and advocacy groups across Canada.
Issues to be tackled include the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), an emergency benefit designed to lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses affected by the pandemic.
Over the past two weeks, members of the Main Street Action Network, a coalition of participants in the initiative, have contributed research and analysis, or advocated directly to policymakers for program changes to address these concerns:
- Commercial landlords may choose not to take up the program, resulting in many eligible small businesses losing out on urgently needed support.
- The program design is too restrictive, with regards to factors like eligible rental arrangements and financial thresholds for revenue decline.
- The mid-May launch timing may be too late for many small businesses, who could be evicted before that date for failure to make May rent.