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Front St E in Toronto at dusk.

What is Future Cities Canada?

Future Cities Canada is a collaborative platform that harnesses the momentum for change already in progress in cities.

It brings together people, ideas, platforms and innovations from across sectors to address two of the most pressing issues of our time: inequality and climate change and their consequential challenges facing cities.

Drawing on the expertise of its founding organizations and together with a diverse and growing network of partners, Future Cities Canada’s unique collaborative infrastructure will accelerate innovation to build regenerative, inclusive cities of the future.

Now is the time for us to realize the potential of cities

The opportunities to transform cities are growing at an unprecedented rate:

  • Canada’s governments have committed $750 billion over the next 10 years, sparking private investment that can multiply it sevenfold.
  • The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) recognize the central role of urbanization in sustainable development to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.” This priority will shape public policy and development finance for the next 15 years, making the “urban SDG” a tremendous opportunity for cities.
  • Cities are leading the way toward the Paris Agreement commitments, with mayors across the globe setting bold carbon reduction targets and creating decisive implementation plans.
  • New technologies allow responsive cities to monitor, connect and share insight-bearing data at an exceptional scale.
  • The Government of Canada has made commitments to advance reconciliation and renew a nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples. There is increasing recognition of the value of restoring Indigenous presence to our urban spaces across the country. 

Future Cities Canada is the cross-sector collaborative platform Canada needs to accelerate innovation to transform cities for the benefit of us all.

Who we are

The groundwork for Future Cities Canada began three years ago when Evergreen and McConnell Foundation came together on the We Are Cities campaign. We engaged thousands of citizens, asking them to imagine an agenda for the future of our cities. In the end, five priority areas for action were recognized.

A subsequent report, Towards a Civic Commons Strategy, revealed the need for a collaborative infrastructure to catalyze inclusive urban innovation for our cities. It became clear we needed Future Cities Canada.

With founding partners the McConnell Foundation, TD Bank Group, Evergreen, Maison de l'innovation sociale and Community Foundations of Canada, and an ever-growing network of partners, this collaboration provides the required infrastructure for us to collectively imagine our future, focusing on four areas of urban innovation: 

  • Capital: How can we develop new ways to align public, private and philanthropic resources to advance inclusive, low-carbon growth?
  • Infrastructure: How can we test and scale new approaches in carbon reduction and resilience planning, forge private-public sector relationships to commercialize clean urban technologies, and build community partnerships to create a thriving civic commons?
  • Governance: How can we advance hybrid collaborative governance, foster more nimble cooperation among public sectors, industry and civil society, and grow an evidence base to support city-government innovation?
  • Participation: How can we scale new modes of civic engagement, and build a greater capacity for local governments and communities to participate in problem solving?

Now is the time to realize the potential of cities, but we can’t do it alone. Together we must step forward to ensure Canada continues to be a leader in building and shaping thriving cities of tomorrow – cities that are equitable, regenerative and prosperous for all:

  • Equitable: Where social and economic inequalities are eradicated, and opportunity and access are inclusive and accessible to all.
  • Regenerative: Where improving the state of the natural environment is the aim.
  • Prosperous: Where economic opportunities are abundant for everyone.

Future Cities Canada will find new ways to accelerate innovation to transform cities for the benefit of us all.

Leadership

 
A headshot of Geoff Cape.

Geoff Cape, Evergreen

Geoff Cape is the founder and CEO of Evergreen. Since being founded in 1991, Evergreen has evolved into a national organization focused on integrating people, natural and built worlds, turning spaces into great places.

Selected in 1999 as one of Canada’s “Top 40 Under 40” by The Globe and Mail Report on Business magazine, Geoff has also been honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of “Canadians who have made outstanding and exemplary contributions to their communities or to Canada as a whole.” Geoff was invested into the Order of Canada in 2018 for his outstanding achievement and leadership in creating sustainable, thriving urban environments in schools, public spaces and communities across the country. Geoff has been a regular participant and speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and is on the “Future of Urban Development Advisory Board” and the “Technology Pioneers Selection Committee” for the World Economic Forum.

Geoff provides leadership to the strategic direction and vision of Future Cities Canada.

@gcape | @EvergreenCanada

 
A headshot of Ian Bird.

Ian Bird, Community Foundations of Canada

Ian is President of Community Foundations of Canada, where he explores opportunities to mobilize a diverse network of community-based philanthropists to achieve greater collective impact across the country. From expanding the organization’s circle of champions to include new voices and expertise, to building new partnerships based on common interests and outcomes, Ian has worked hard to leverage the power of collaboration and find new ways for the movement to address complex issues facing Canadian communities, such as belonging, inclusion and reconciliation.

Under Ian’s leadership Community Foundations of Canada established a landmark Smart & Caring Communities initiative and he was also instrumental in founding and incubating the Rideau Hall Foundation, and served as its first Executive Director for from 2013 to 2015. He spearheaded Community Foundations of Canada’s work towards Canada’s sesquicentennial via the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th and is now helping guide that work beyond 2017 using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for communities.

@IanBird_Canada | @CommFdsCanada

 
A headshot of Jane Engle.

Jayne Engle, Cities for People, McConnell Foundation

Dr. Jayne Engle leads Cities for People at the McConnell Foundation, an initiative which aims to increase urban equality, in ways that create the city as a commons. Jayne has worked globally at the intersections of city planning and revitalization, urban policy innovation, collaborative governance and social change. Her experience spans urban development in US cities to participatory research in post-earthquake Haiti. She worked in policy at Groundwork UK in London, founded a Business Improvement District in Pittsburgh, was Co-President of the Ecocity World Summit in Montreal, and directed The Entrepreneurship Centre in Slovakia.

Jayne is passionate about bridging innovative community action on the ground with policy and systems change, particularly in ways that foster freedom in people and the right to human flourishing. She is Adjunct Professor, McGill University School of Urban Planning, and holds a Master of Urban and Regional Planning, an MBA in real estate development, and a PhD in Urban Planning, Policy and Design.

Jayne provides leadership to the strategic direction and vision of Future Cities Canada.

@JayneEngle | @cities4people | @jwmcconnell

 
A headshot of Patrick Dubé.

Patrick Dubé, Maison de l’innovation sociale

Patrick Dubé co-director of MIS Maison de l’innovation sociale, an organization dedicated to developing social innovation capabilities and the emergence of social entrepreneurs in Quebec.

Following a master’s degree in anthropology and doctoral studies on the theory of complexity, Patrick began a research career in the medical sector. From 2006, he supported organizations in the development of their creative and innovative practices. From 2011 to 2017, he co-directed the research department at the Society for Arts and Technology (SAT). In 2013, he founded Umvelt Service Design, a consulting firm specializing in open innovation.

In recent years, he has contributed to the emergence of a community of Living Labs in Quebec. He is now involved in developing networks of practices in social innovation and in the development of smart and inclusive cities across the country.

Fellows

Mark Cabaj, From Here to There, Tamarack

Mark is President of the consulting company From Here to There and an Associate of Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement. His current focus is on developing practical ways to understand, plan and evaluate efforts to address complex issues.

Dan Hoornweg, UOIT, TSSA
Keystone Meekison Fellow, Future Cities Canada

Dan Hoornweg is the Richard Marceau Chair and Associate Professor of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT), and the Chief Safety and Risk Officer for the Province of Ontario (Technical Standards and Safety Authority, TSSA). He is a recognized global expert in urban resilience, sustainable cities, and community consultation and participation for better service delivery.

Indy Johar, 00

Indy is co-founder of 00, a Senior Innovation Associate with the Young Foundation and Visiting Professor at the University of Sheffield. On behalf of 00, Indy has co-founded multiple social ventures, from Impact Hub Westminster to Impact Hub Birmingham and the HubLaunchpad Accelerator, along with working with large global multinationals and institutions to support their transition to a positive Systems Economy.

@indy_johar | @DarkMatter_Labs

Alex Ryan, MaRS Solution Lab

Alex Ryan is VP of Systems Innovation and Program Director of the MaRS Solutions Lab. He most enjoys bringing diverse groups of participants together to jointly innovate on society’s most complex and important challenges.

@DrAlexRyan | @solutions_lab

Team

As one of the founding partners, Evergreen, an organization dedicated to making cities flourish, is providing the foundational leadership and support in the coordination of Future Cities Canada and its programs. 

Robert Plitt

Robert is the Executive Lead for the strategic development of Future Cities Canada, building a Canada-wide network of academics, foundations, governments, and corporations focused on building flourishing future cities. He develops novel partnerships and innovations in the key fields of infrastructure, capital, governance, and civic engagement. Prior to his role as Executive Director, Programs, he was Executive Director of Evergreen CityWorks and Director of Collective Impact, where he developed Evergreen’s Action Lab program and curated multi-sector collaborations focused on systems change at national and regional scales. He is a passionate believer in innovation through collaboration. He holds a Master’s of Fine Arts from the State Academy of Fine Arts in Amsterdam.

Isabel Cascante

Isabel directs a program portfolio focused on Evergreen’s city building projects, including the Housing Action Lab, the Mid-Sized Cities Program and 100In1Day Canada. As the Program Director of Future Cities Canada, she is a core member of the team working to shape the strategy, design and implementation of the initiative. Her work is driven by a belief in the importance of broad-based coalitions, and her projects work to integrate the strengths and perspectives of all stakeholders. Isabel has more than 15 years of teaching, facilitation and management experience in non-profit, private sector, and post-secondary education contexts. She has a BEd from the University of Regina, a BA and MA from the University of Calgary, and a PhD from the University of Toronto.

Juliana Dutkay

Juliana is Director of Strategic Partnerships at Evergreen, driving the development of partnerships and governance structures that are in line with the organization’s strategic priorities. Juliana oversees Future Cities Canada’s partnership strategy. She works closely in collaboration with the leadership team to engage both financial and programmatic partners. Juliana has more than 15 years of experience in communications, fundraising and sustainability consulting, both in the private and not for profit sectors. She holds a BA in Journalism from Bucharest University, an MA in Marketing from Emerson College, and a Master’s in Environmental Studies with a Business and Environment Diploma from York University.

Jo Flatt

Jo runs a number of Evergreen’s initiatives focused on urban sustainability and resilience. Jo is leading the programming and design of the Future Cities Canada Summit, which will bring together top urban thought leaders from around the world. As the lead of the Future Cities Canada Learning Network she works with emerging and established city builders from across sectors and communities to develop tools and resources to accelerate innovation and transform their cities for the better. She also runs the Mid-Sized Cities Program and spearheaded the organization’s consultation and research work to shape Toronto’s laneway suites policy. Jo co-teaches how to influence public policy at the Munk School, University of Toronto and is co-chair of the Mid-Sized City Caucus with the Council for Canadian Urbanism. She has a BComm from McGill University and a Master’s of Public Policy from the University of Toronto. 

Michelle German

Michelle manages Evergreen’s action labs, blending together research and action to advance solutions. She is co-designing and supporting Future Cities Canada’s innovation labs, which focus on city systems, proposing solutions to create regenerative, equitable cities. Michelle is also involved with Future Cities Canada’s work around data, civic participation and housing. Her work is focused on building partnerships with people from a variety of backgrounds to break down barriers between fields, and create solutions to advance together. She has worked in federal and municipal government, grassroots programming and non-profit research. Michelle has a BA from the University of Toronto and a Master’s of Environmental Policy from York University.

Marina Queirolo

Marina manages Evergreen’s initiatives related to food policy, public markets and hubs. She works to change the status quo of city systems, like food, to make them more just, equitable and sustainable. Marina is leading the development of Future Cities Canada’s hub program, which aims to leverage existing civic assets as a place-based approach to accelerating inclusive urban innovation, supported by two anchor hubs: Evergreen Brick Works’ redeveloped kiln building in Toronto and Montreal’s Ville d’avenir. Marina is a member of the Toronto Food Policy Council since 2013, is chair of the Council’s Public Food Market Working Group, part of the Global Place making Council and has almost 15 years working in food systems and city building. Marina has a BA from the University of Buenos Aires.

Zoya Sodhi

Zoya leads the planning, execution, delivery and evaluation of a wide portfolio of projects under Evergreen’s Future Cities Canada initiative. She has previously worked with an international consultancy and a premier urban think tank to execute pilot projects, research, stakeholder collaborations, knowledge exchange and capacity building efforts on climate change, low carbon and smart cities in India and Switzerland. She also contributes editorially to an international quarterly magazine, My Liveable City, that aims to inspire and educate the transformation of cities. Zoya holds an MSc Degree in Urban Planning and Management from Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, University of Twente in the Netherlands, and a BA Geography (Honours) from University of Delhi in India.