Main Streets represent distinct points of pride and sustainability for Nova Scotian communities. They facilitate safe and comfortable movement of people of all age and abilities, whether they are walking, cycling, driving, or using mobility devices. Shops and services on Main Streets are predominantly locally-owned and clustered together to benefit each other on streets that are vibrant, human-scaled, and express genuine local culture. The Main Street experience responds to local resident needs and attracts visitors and newcomers to explore, spend time, develop roots, and invest in the community.
The intent of the Nova Scotia Main Streets Initiative is to create momentum and identify opportunities for community-based approaches to improve Main Streets, while also providing considerations for government strategies, programs and policies.
Community Main Streets Assessment Method
Published in September 2021 and building on the momentum created by the Community Workbook, Phase 2 of the Main Street Initiative has gone a step further with a Main Street Assessment Method. The goal is to be a resident-friendly self-service tool for community members and leaders to assess Main Street elements in their own community by identifying what’s working well and what could work better. It will be a missing link to guide municipal and community leaders in leveraging their unique community strengths and opportunities.
A series of conversation prompts (in the Conversation Guide and Ideas Book) and worksheets (in the Conversation Worksheets) guide community members to ask themselves realistic and tough questions about what they need to do to strengthen their Main Street areas. This is intended to be a collaborative process bringing together multiple actors to develop a community vision for identified Main Street areas and, based on that vision, prioritize efforts and investments to support placemaking, economic vitality, and connectivity.
Engagement and the development of this project were facilitated by FBM in partnership with the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities’ Active Transportation Committee in 2020/2021. Input was provided by staff at Bicycle Nova Scotia, the Ecology Action Centre, Develop Nova Scotia, and the province of Nova Scotia (departments of Public Works; Public Health; and Communities, Culture and Heritage).
This project is supported by a Connect2 community capacity-building grant. These grants support reductions in Nova Scotia’s greenhouse gas emissions through community initiatives and local projects that promote clean transportation solutions, including active transportation.
The organizations below provided further support in input, with community engagement in Elmsdale, St. Peter’s, Westville, Hubbards, Canning, North Sydney and Sydney Mines.
The Main Streets Initiative Community Workbook was released on July 6, 2020 (read the news release), It summarizes research and community engagement conducted in early 2020 by a collaborative team focused on the Main Streets in Nova Scotia’s smaller towns, villages and communities, typically with populations of under 10,000.
This project was initiated by the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities Active Transportation Committee, working with FBM Architecture, Interior Design and Planning, and Bicycle Nova Scotia.
Community engagement and research for the Nova Scotia Main Streets Initiative was led by FBM, with assistance from the Ecology Action Centre, Develop Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, and Dalhousie University School of Planning students.
The work and associated engagement was also made possible by support and input from the following organizations: Cape Breton Partnership, Halifax Regional Municipality, Municipality of Chester, Municipality of East Hants, Pictou County Regional Enterprise Network, Municipality of the County of Richmond, St. Peter’s Economic Development Organization, and Town of Westville.
The combined interest of these organizations highlights the multi-faceted importance of understanding and investing in Main Streets in Nova Scotia.
Main Streets Summit
The culmination of the Nova Scotia Main Streets Initiative was a summit of people and organizations working on main street issues throughout the province. The Nova Scotia Main Streets Ideas Exchange happened on April 27, 2023, in Antigonish and was a chance for community leaders, elected officials, advocates, and placemakers to share aspirations and success stories for Main Streets and Downtowns in communities across the province