MaRS Discovery District supports the Healthy Communities Initiatives across Canada

As Canadians continue to adapt to the realities of COVID-19, local governments and community partners across the country are adapting their spaces and services to keep residents safe and healthy, support economic recovery, create jobs, and build vibrant, resilient communities.

TORONTO, May 14, 2021  – Today, the Government of Canada alongside Community Foundations of Canada, the Canadian Urban Institute and a network of partners including MaRS are announcing projects taking place across Canada as part of the first round of the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI). The $31-million CHCI is building safer spaces and ensuring a higher quality of life for people across the country, by helping communities adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

“Community digital solutions – for example, a virtual farmers market, an iPad/tablet lending library, a platform that allows volunteers to coordinate grocery deliveries to the elderly and a local food delivery app for northern communities –  have a lot of potential to help people most impacted by COVID-19,” said Alex Ryan, SVP, Partner Solutions, MaRS. “MaRS is working with a network of CHCI partners to mobilize new solutions that connect people and improve health in the community.”

The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative partners are experts in building vibrant, equitable and livable public spaces and include: the Community Foundations of Canada, Canadian Urban Institute, 880 Cities, Park People, Vivre en Ville, MaRS, Canadian CED Network, ICLEI, the National Association of Friendship Centres and Jay Pitter Placemaking.

To learn more, see a map of projects and sign up for an information session, visit 


Quick facts

  • The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative was created to help communities adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and create safe ways for residents to access services and enjoy the outdoors. The Initiative is designed to fund eligible projects between $5,000 and $250,000 that fall under three main themes: creating safe and vibrant public spaces, improving mobility options, and digital solutions.
  • Community Foundations of Canada together with its partners, including the Canadian Urban Institute, is working with community foundations across the country to manage the funding process and serve the distinct needs of communities across Canada, including equity-seeking groups, interested in applying.
  • A variety of community-led organizations are eligible to apply, including local governments, charities, Indigenous communities, and registered non-profit organizations. 
  • The first intake for projects was launched on February 9, 2021 and closed on March 9, 2021. Successful projects from the first intake have been and will continue to be announced in the coming weeks.
  • The second intake will open on May 14, 2021, and close on June 25, 2021. Applicants wishing to apply for the second round can access further details on the Community Foundations of Canada website.



“The projects we’re announcing demonstrate the creativity and commitment of communities and community partners across Canada to respond to the unique needs of their residents and create a high quality of life for them as they continue to remain vigilant in this pandemic. Through these projects, the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative will help Canadians and their families enjoy safer, more vibrant, and inclusive communities now and into the future. It’s through investments in infrastructure that we’re working to ensure outcomes with triple benefits – growing our economy, fighting climate change, and reducing social inequality and ensuring a better quality of life of all Canadians.”
– The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities


“COVID-19 has put a serious strain on cities and towns across our country, impacting the way our neighbourhoods look, work, and feel. In response, the Government of Canada has introduced the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative, designed to bring joy back to our streets in a safe and innovative way. We’ve seen many innovative projects, like the ones announced, roll in from across the country and we’re excited to see how they enhance the lives of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”
– Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Member of Parliament for Halifax


“The Healthy Communities Initiative is supporting organizations across Canada to bring people together in our communities both in person and digitally, while respecting public health measures. These projects show us the creativity and resourcefulness of communities as they create temporary and longer-lasting solutions that enable people to connect and access public spaces safely.”
– Andrea Dicks, President, Community Foundations of Canada


“The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative is broadening our understanding of what infrastructure truly is and can be: better and more equitable ways for people to connect, problem-solve, and create community-led places for everyone. Congratulations to all who were funded in Round 1! The incredible response to the program from across Canada demonstrates how willing Canadians are to partner and work together for the benefit of their communities. Round 2 presents another opportunity for organizations to submit projects that will help communities emerge from the pandemic more resilient, more accessible and more vibrant.”
– Mary W. Rowe, President and CEO, Canadian Urban Institute