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Design Discussions: Documenting Main Street

Main streets are arguably the heart of rural communities’ social and transportation infrastructures. Concentrations of commercial and day-to-day activities—banking, shopping, personal services, trips to the library—orbit around these smaller, older, secondary highway roads. But these community main streets tend to have lost their way as cohesive-feeling places and lack the physical and social accessibility for much of Nova Scotia's population.

The FBM Planning Studio and its partners have been elevating the conversation around main streets toward helping define and rediscover their social, cultural, and economic value. A report, the Nova Scotia Main Street Initiative Community Workbook, is the result of months of research and hands-on study. The 72-page Community Workbook provides principles, approaches, and policy considerations to foster vibrant Main Streets throughout Nova Scotia.

Now in its second phase, the initiative has identified new community partners, engaging residents and businesses to investigate the potential for main street ideas and improvements.

FBM and its partners are also developing a main street “readiness report card.” The checklist contains criteria to help communities understand and identify feasible enhancements to their main streets, and that can improve safety and mobility, and resulting economic vitality.


Design Discussions’ is a bi-weekly, virtual event series, for and by FBM. Every two weeks we explore important conversations about the built environment. Collectively these are a way to bring together multiple perspectives and thinking to explore new ideas about how we can build a better future together.

This week's Design Discussion was facilitated by FBM Planners, Kieron Hunt and David Paterson.

The work is being conducted under Connect2, a federal program through the Nova Scotia Ministry of Energy and Mines is “based on a vision that all trips under two kilometres to key destinations in Nova Scotia communities can be made using sustainable modes of transportation.” 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.