issues and experts

New database aims for post-pandemic recovery of ‘main street’ retail and services

September 17, 2020


Andy Yan, director, The City Program             

Expertise: urban regeneration, applied demographics, neighborhood development.

Shradhha Sharma; University Communications and Marketing, 604.202.2504,

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted global communities on many fronts, including changes to the retail and services of “main streets”, prompting an economic downturn and magnifying pre-existing weaknesses and inequalities.

To help plan key strategies in economic recovery and “bring back” city main streets, Andy Yan, director of The City Program at SFU, has helped to create the Main Street Data Primer: A Resource for Policymakers, Main Street Stakeholders and Urban Researchers.

The resource is designed to help municipalities and business improvement areas, along with analysts, advocates, advisors and researchers, to navigate through “oceans of data sources” to inform urban and main street recovery planning.

While still in the midst of a pandemic, recovery is also on the horizon, as the B.C. government is set to announce its economic recovery plans for the province. Yan says the new, nationally coordinated research and advocacy campaign is about finding the best solutions to ensure main streets recover from COVID-19 and emerge from the crisis more resilient than ever.

“The idea behind this primer is to highlight the importance of how good decisions begin with good data,” says Yan, whose collaborators include experts from across the country, led by the Canadian Urban Institute in Toronto.

The resource draws on SFU’s extensive expertise in urban studies and geography, as well as its big data initiative, KEY, and connections with both community and government levels.

Yan can elaborate on how communities can benefit from strategic planning based on good data. His specializations include urban regeneration, applied demographics, and neighborhood development.

Prior to becoming director of The City Program, Yan worked extensively in the non-profit and private urban planning sectors in Vancouver and several U.S. cities.


About Simon Fraser University: 

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 35,000 students. The university now boasts more than 160,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.