August has been dubbed ‘Downtown and Main Street Month’ by the Canadian chapter of the International Downtown Association (IDA) as the organization looks to raise awareness of the critical economic and social role of the downtown core in communities across the country.

Merritt’s downtown core is host to a number of businesses, services, and non-profits, and has been the target of revitalization efforts for many years. Organizations such as the Merritt and District Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures Nicola Valley, and WorkBC Merritt offer supports to businesses looking to establish themselves in the downtown core, and in the community as a whole.

IDA called downtown cores the “heartbeats of their municipalities and provinces, and vital parts of the Canadian national identity” in a press release, urging people to visit and support their community’s downtown in a number of ways. 

“Connect with your local Business Improvement Association (BIA) and small businesses,” said David Downey, president and CEO of IDA Canada. “Visit downtowns and main streets, shop local, and voice your support, whether that’s around the corner or across the country.”

As businesses begin to recover from the economic downturn and other impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, IDA stressed the importance of the public, the business community, and decision-makers alike to celebrate Canada’s business districts, and bolster support for their interests and impact.

“Initiatives from the pandemic that supported small businesses and public space were invaluable, and many have shown their permanent value given their revitalizing impact on downtowns and main streets,” added Kate Fenske, IDA Canada’s chair.

IDA urged that people visit their downtown cores, support local businesses, and raise awareness of the overall importance of downtown cores and main streets across the country.