The Duke of Data Andy Yan seems to be everywhere these days, bringing practical information,municipal data, and a prudent approach on how best to navigate through the Covid crisis. He brings a clear, cogent, well researched and thought out voice to the pandemic conversation, and has really raised the profile of Simon Fraser University’s City Program as an active, engaged place with a researcher who always has time for students and discussion.

Mr. Yan  in concert with the Canadian Urban Institute has worked on a data base to assist with the recovery of retail and commercial districts in Canada. That database access is absolutely free.

With a long and still expanding list of main street partners Mr. Yan is part of a nationally-coordinated research and advocacy campaign ensuring best solutions for Covid-19 recovery. The strategy includes main street business leaders as well as leaders from academia, developers, industry and professional organizations and advocacy groups.

With an aim to enrich the “value of our main streets~their connection to the health of the economy, social life, and vitality of our neighbourhoods and cities” the work strategizes actions that “can guarantee their survival”.

As Nic Rockell in BC Business writes the Main Street Primer helps to navigate a “sea of data” to enable commercial areas to bounce back from the pandemic with resiliency.  This national project was undertaken with the Canadian Urban Institute through their “Bring Back Main Street” initiative.

By carefully examining seven commercial areas in British Columbia and Ontario, the data compares business closures, foot traffic before and after the pandemic, and other factors that changed how the street was being used.

Mr. Yan points out that some trends have been “magnified”~businesses already having economic challenges had that exacerbated by the pandemic, while other businesses that had close relationships with the adjoining community better weathered the changes. The seasonal use of outdoor patios have been embraced by communities, and that use can be extended through the  wetter, darker seasons with adaptation to a new outlook and standard for outdoor winter dining.

The messaging is about resilience and adaptation~ “Normal isn’t necessarily going back; it’s whatever that level of stability is in terms of economic and public health. This is like a developing Polaroid, and trying to adapt to how that image is going to look like—that, I think, is the trick.”

Mr. Yan also reminds us all about looking at Bringing Back Main Street from an opportunities perspective~”It’s also rethinking B.C. in that kind of local, national and global context. The global economy is down, but it’s far from out.”

You can access the Bring Back Main Street Data Primer here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *