Successful Pedestrian Street 

Successful Pedestrian Street 

About The Mainstreet Initiative 

The Challenge

MHBC has embarked on a design-related research initiative based on the concept of the Mainstreet with one goal:

Can we find commonalities between elements of existing Mainstreets that can form the basis of an evidence-based approach to achieving healthy, walkable and vibrant corridors?

The Premise

The Mainstreet is a complex condition in our built environment, one which we feel occurred through an evolution and cannot be recreated by simply borrowing ideas from an existing precedent. We need a greater understanding of the existing Mainstreet condition to fully appreciate the elements or influencers within that condition that are critical to achieving healthy, active and vibrant corridors.

The Mainstreets

For the purposes of this study, we consider the candidate Mainstreet to be a linear corridor that has an active street life, a broad mix and range of uses, low vacancy rates, and has achieved a sense of place and local identity to its visitors, residents and workers.

Candidate Mainstreets will be selected from communities across the Province of Ontario, Canada to obtain a balanced perspective on the Mainstreet condition.  The ideal candidate Mainstreets will be the “anomaly” corridor, being a stand-alone, linear corridor that thrives on its own right, unsupported by other external factors.  For example, candidate Mainstreets:

  •  would not represent a downtown, regional or local centre condition;
  • would not represent the immediate extension of those conditions noted above;
  • would not be supported by any mass transit such as subways, LRT or streetcars;
  • should have a combination of traditional built form and newer infill development; and,
  • would be within the jurisdiction of the Province of Ontario

The objective

The objective of The Mainstreet Initiative is to reveal, through an intense design analysis and research, what those key elements or urban influencers are to achieve healthy, active and vibrant corridors from a number of candidate Mainstreets. 

The results of this initiative will be an in-depth understanding of what makes a Mainstreet tick and confirm whether we are making the right planning and design decisions to bring about healthy, connected, active corridors in our communities. The initiative will also provide a methodology to assess the success of Mainstreet conditions and propose the appropriate tools and mechanisms to achieve healthy, walkable, active and vibrant Mainstreets.

The results of this initiative are intended to be refined over time as Mainstreets are added, assessed and considered.