Small retail businesses are essential to the vitality and success of Toronto’s main streets and neighbourhoods, and key drivers of economic prosperity for residents, families, communities and the city as a whole.

To assist small businesses in Toronto to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario is providing up to $18 million for six programs comprising the Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative.

Grants, training and resources provided through the Toronto Main Street Recovery programs are available until March 31, 2024, and aim to support small business operators, community business associations, streetscape animation and retail innovation. See below for more information about each of the six programs, eligibility, grant amounts and application timelines.

The Retail Accelerator Program provides small retail businesses operating in the city of Toronto with access to training and a micro-grant of $10,000.

Participants are required to create and submit a retail business/marketing plan after the targeted retail training is complete in order to receive the grant.

Applications open on December 9, 2021.

The Main Street Innovation Fund offers funding for organizations to address main street challenges, engage in innovative place-making and animate main streets to support business recovery and success.

Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), community business organizations and not-for-profit organizations are eligible to apply. Projects providing scalable, innovative solutions to common challenges facing main streets across Toronto are encouraged.

Approved standard-scale projects will receive $25,000. Approved larger-scale projects may receive up to $50,000. Approved legacy-scale projects may receive up to $100,000.

Applications open on January 6, 2022.

The CaféTO – Commercial and Industrial Property Improvement Program offers business operators matching funding of 50 per cent for the cost of eligible improvements (excluding furnishings) to café spaces on City property (where a valid permit has been issued) or on private property.

Expenses eligible for funding include platforms or decking, fencing and accessibility improvements which meet Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) design standards and technical drawings.

The maximum grant available is $5,000. Further funding of up to $2,500, for a total maximum grant of $7,500, is available for upgrades to meet accessibility standards.

Applications open on March 2, 2022.

The Commercial Space Rehabilitation Grant Program offers matching funding of 50 per cent to commercial business operators and owners of storefronts that are vacant (or, in certain limited circumstances, at risk of becoming vacant) to undertake interior improvements, assisting businesses to re-lease space impacted by COVID-19. Improvements to meet health regulations and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) compliance are also included.

Expenses eligible for funding include structural upgrades, interior light fixtures, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), plumbing, electrical, interior painting, flooring/ceiling/walls, permanently-affixed counters, merchandise displays and accessibility improvements, among others.

The maximum grant available is $20,000. Further funding of up to $4,000, for a total maximum grant of $24,000, is available for upgrades to meet accessibility standards. Additional funding of $20,000 ($4,000 per additional unit, for up to five units) is available for multi-unit properties.

Applications are now open. Learn more and apply.

The Eglinton West corridor known as Little Jamaica is a commercial main street of cultural significance to Toronto and several Caribbean and African diaspora and immigrant communities. The area is home to dozens of Black-owned businesses including barber and aesthetic shops, restaurants specializing in Caribbean cuisine, recording studios and music stores, among other retail establishments.  

Businesses in Little Jamaica have been deeply impacted by the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) line and COVID-19 related restrictions and closures.  

With funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario for the Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative, the Black Business and Professional Association will provide technical assistance to small businesses in Little Jamaica, including area branding and marketing, web and e-commerce solutions; support with tax filing; business plan development; financial reviews; payroll; marketing; and connections to professional accounting and legal services.  

For more information, visit BBPA Programs and Initiatives – Little Jamaica. 

plazaPOPS facilitates the development of safe, green, place-making installations and programming in strip mall parking lots, while encouraging community engagement, attracting foot-traffic and providing employment opportunities for residents and youth.

With funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario for the Toronto Main Street Recovery and Rebuild Initiative, up to 15 plazaPOPs installations will be developed by 2024 in Scarborough, Etobicoke, North York or other areas of Toronto with strip mall plazas.

To learn more about the program, visit plazaPOPS.