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The Competition

The Reimagine the Canals Competition is a two-stage process to select projects and/or initiatives that will be awarded a total of $2.5 million.


Competition submissions can describe a physical project or concept, a programming initiative, or a blend of both:

  1. Physical Concepts include projects intended to address the current challenges facing the Canal System and/or to transform the relationship between local communities, visitors, and the Canals. This could include, for example, improving connectivity between communities and the Canals, creating a new tourist destination, or re-engineering or rehabilitating existing structures along the Canal System.
  2. Programming Initiatives include concepts to address the current challenges of the Canal System by increasing the use of the Canal System and/or the Canalway Trail. This could include, for example, an event or series of events, the use of technology to enhance the visitor experience, or other concepts designed to attract tourists.


Stage One: Applicants will submit an idea as either a physical concept or a programming initiative. They will be asked to describe how their proposal relates to the aims of the Competition and addresses specific challenges. More details about the submission requirements for Stage One can be found here. While it is not necessary to partner with a local jurisdiction or a non-profit organization in Stage One, applicants may want to note any partnerships with local or canal-related organizations that they envision will facilitate implementation of their idea.

The jury will recommend up to eight finalists. Finalists will receive feedback from NYPA and the Canal Corporation about their initial proposals and receive an award of up to $50,000 each to develop their ideas for submission in Stage Two.

Stage Two: The finalists may be asked to partner with a local jurisdiction (i.e., county, city, town, or village) or a state or local non-profit engaged in Canal-related work to help advance the project as appropriate; NYPA and the Canal Corporation may assist with this partnering. Finalists will be asked to develop a detailed description of the idea as well as information about its feasibility, cost, potential funding sources, economic impact, and projected financial impact on the Canal Corporation. More detailed submission guidelines for Stage Two will be provided to shortlisted finalists.

Stage Two submissions will be published on this website for the public to vote on the proposals. The jury will consider the results of this vote, along with other factors, and will recommend two or more winners to receive awards of between $250,000 and $1,500,000 towards project planning and implementation. Actual award amounts will be based on the extent and scale of the proposal submitted. NYPA expects to enter into contracts with the winners that will set forth, among other things, the terms for receiving the awards.


The anticipated timeline, which may be subject to change, is as follows:


A well-qualified jury will assist NYPA and the Canal Corporation in evaluating Stage One and Stage Two applications. Stage Two will include a public vote, results of which will be considered by the jury, NYPA, and the Canal Corporation in making final awards.

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Competition Goals: the extent to which the idea addresses the goals of the Competition
  • Feasibility: the extent to which the idea is implementable and financially sustainable
  • Economic/Financial impact: the idea’s potential to stimulate economic growth in the surrounding communities or promote financial sustainability of the Canal System by increasing revenue streams or decreasing operating costs
  • Innovation: the extent to which the idea is novel and brings new thinking to current challenges
  • Team qualifications: the quality of the team, its experience, and its ability to implement