Background

The Main Street Saskatchewan program is a downtown revitalization program that is administered by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport. The program supplies training, technical services, and funding support for accredited members. Main Street Saskatchewan focuses on using the Four-Point Approach to begin a long-term reversal of trends that saw businesses and residents flocking to the suburbs post-World War II.

Main Street originates from a program that was developed in the United States in the late-1970s. Since then, the program has been used to rejuvenate approximately 2,000 communities, generating $54B in investment, 450,000 jobs and over 200,000 building rehabilitations in the US. In Canada, Alberta and Quebec currently have programs that are based on this Main Street model.

The Main Street Four-Point Approach

The Four-Point Approach is a community-driven, self-help approach to downtown revitalization. The following four areas of activity operate simultaneously to ensure successful, sustainable revitalization.

  1. Community Organization – Focus on building consensus and collaboration between all groups that have a stake in the success of downtown. Broad support makes it easier to work toward a common goal, and draws on a broad range of perspectives and skill-sets.
  2. Economic Restructuring – Strengthening and diversifying downtown’s economic base. This involves retaining and expanding existing businesses and attracting new ones to achieve a commercial mix to meet the needs of the area. Key to this is finding new commercial uses in existing unused or underutilized properties.
  3. Marketing/Promotion – Advertising, promotions, special events and branding to create a positive image of downtown as a distinctive and appealing place to shop, visit, operate a business or invest.
  4. Design/Heritage Conservation – Creating an inviting pedestrian-oriented downtown through public realm improvements, rehabilitation of heritage buildings, and new construction that is compatible with the area’s historic character.

Main Street Regina

Regina Downtown Business Improvement District was approved as a Main Street Affiliate community in November, 2014.  Since then we have engaged in a number of programs designed to move forward the pillars of Main Street within our district.  In 2015, RDBID embarked upon an ambitious community engagement process as part of the development of our new strategic plan.  Through the Imagine Downtown consultation process, we engaged over 1,600 survey respondents, hosted two town hall meetings and held five focus groups sessions (with City Council, City Administration, downtown retailers, downtown restaurants and other peer organizations). The RDBID Board participated in two strategic planning sessions at the conclusion of the project.  The resulting Imagine Downtown Strategic Plan was adopted by the RDBID Board in January of 2016.

Adapting the Four-Point Approach to Downtown Regina

Community Organization

In 2015, RDBID set two major goals to order to improve and enhance community initiatives. These goals included; building the Main Street Regina approach foundation and increasing involvement in our programs. These goals were met by developing a plan of action, understanding the needs of our members through the Imagine Downtown initiative and increasing member participation and interaction. Specifically, we improved communication and increased participation of the Regina community and our members through member forums, e-newsletters, developing a member database and starting the process of developing a new website.

RDBID also developed a strategic plan to lead our organization into 2018. This plan was developed and shaped by the Imagine Downtown initiative, where we gathered feedback through forums and focus groups and surveyed 1,662 people on their view of downtown Regina.

ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Developed a strategic plan to lead RDBID into 2016-2018
  • Coordinated a downtown walkthrough
  • Hosted member forums
  • Developed a member database
  • Identified potential volunteers

Promotion

In 2015, RDBIDs promotional goals were to increase activity in Downtown Regina and engage businesses in promotions and events. These goals were achieved by increasing communication within the community by creating an events calendar, developing an e-newsletter and updating our website. Other value-added events and initiatives implemented include; walking tours, Market under the Stars and Salsa on the Plaza and Cinema Under the Stars. These successful and growing events bring 38,690 people downtown to dine, shop and play.

ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Developed a calendar of events to increase awareness in the community about downtown events
  • Updated website with details about events
  • Created an E-Newsletter to distribute to subscribers
  • Collaborated with Regina Farmers Market by participating in Market Under the Stars
  • Created outdoor walking tours
  • Assisted with executing Salsa under the Stars
  • Hosted a member forum
  • Developed a member-only E-Newsletter
  • Developed the 2015 Annual Report
  • Organized multiple shopping events
  • Organized Restaurant Week

Economic Restructuring

Economic development goals set out for 2015 included; increasing public and private investment downtown and attracting and retaining retail, restaurant and service uses in downtown.  In order to reach these goals RDBID increased communication with downtown members through surveys, property owner outreach and business focused focus groups. In order to grow downtown investment, RDBID focused on becoming an advocate for construction and repair downtown through identifying priority improvements, building relationships with key decision makers and participating in steering committees focus on key municipal projects.

ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Continually build relationships with key decision makers in the downtown community in order to be an effective advocate for investment
  • Participated in steering committees focused on key municipal projects
  • Identified high priority public realm improvements
  • Conducted business focused surveys
  • Increased communication with members by reaching out to property owners
  • Hosted business focused forums
  • Identified available locations for new business

Design and Heritage Conservation 

In 2015, RDBID created two goals to enhance Regina Downtown’s design and heritage conservation efforts. The first, encourage visual improvements through effective design, was partially achieved by implementing a way finding system in the downtown core.  The second goal, promote heritage –sensitive development and historic rehabilitation throughout downtown, was partially achieved through hosting historic tours around downtown for the publics benefit.

ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Implemented a way finding system through effective signage
  • Hosted multiple historic property tours for the public to educate about the value of historic property