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A close-up of a person's hands as they write on a Post-it note. Image Credit: Jamie McMillan/Crazy Dames
Image Credit: Jamie McMillan/Crazy Dames


Our resources, from toolkits to research papers, build capacity among city builders to help create flourishing cities that are equitable, regenerative and prosperous.

Building Our Urban Futures: Inside Canada’s Infrastructure and Real Estate Needs

Canada’s historical underinvestment in infrastructure has reached a critical crossroads. Despite increased investment in infrastructure in recent years, we still have a significant gap between our collective needs and current projections. The scope of this challenge is enormous.

This newly released report, Building Our Urban Futures: Inside Canada’s Infrastructure and Real Estate Needs, from Evergreen and Deloitte takes a long-term view and asks: what will be needed 50 years in the future? We estimate that between now and the year 2067, Canada will need between $11 trillion to $22 trillion in infrastructure investment just to maintain current standards of living, let alone make improvements.

It is now clear that we need to urgently strategize and act collaboratively so that we make choices now to rise to the challenges of our futures.


A Guide to Using Scenarios: Foresight for Resilient Cities

To build resilient communities and be effective in a complex and ever-changing world, municipal staff, city builders and other decision-makers must look ahead to anticipate emerging trends, issues, opportunities, and threats. Strategic foresight is a field that enables them to do just that—it enhances people’s capacity to detect, respond to, and learn from patterns of change. Find out how to use a prominent strategic foresight tool called scenario development in A Guide to Using Scenarios.


Indigenous Architecture and Placekeeping: Roundtable Webinar

Inspired by the Unceded: Voices of the Land exhibition showcased at the 2018 Venice Biennale and now housed at the Canadian Museum of History until Fall 2020, this Future Cities Canada Roundtable dialogue focuses on the unique ways that Indigenous architects and designers are channelling their respective Indigenous identities, values, ecologies, relationships to land and place, stories, cosmologies, resistance, and creative expressions into exciting and holistic methods for building cities and communities that are more restorative, community-driven, inclusive, resilient, and humane.

This Roundtable is also an invitation to architects, urban designers and planners, civic and cultural institutions, and decision-makers to learn from renowned Indigenous thought leaders and practitioners: Douglas Cardinal, Tamarah Begay and Daniel Glenn about the value of consulting with Indigenous communities, worldviews and methods; and engaging with processes of decolonizing and righting relationships within all city building initiatives that occur on occupied Indigenous territories.

People, Places & Programs: The Untapped Value of Community Hubs

Spaces that support and connect communities play an essential role in providing public benefits and economic opportunities while instilling a sense of belonging for residents. When properly resourced and community-driven, hubs are invaluable to flourishing communities. But the impact of a community hub may not always be linear or quantifiable, so many of these hubs remain underfunded. Through twelve case studies from coast to coast to coast, this research demonstrates the great potential that is unlocked when community hubs are properly supported by funds, relationships and physical assets. These examples showcase the innovative toolkits, partnerships, and business models that help community hubs thrive.


Getting to the Open Smart City

Smart cities are becoming an increasingly significant part of our world as our dependency and use of data and technology continues to rise.

Getting to the Open Smart City, a new report from Future Cities Canada and OpenNorth, explores the concept of “openness” within a smart city context. The report analyses how the use of open smart technologies and approaches can help cities achieve more accessible and equitable outcomes, and provides recommendations to how our cities can integrate openness into our data policies.

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Green Bank Financing to Accelerate Clean Energy Deployment in Canada through the Canadian Infrastructure Bank

This report finds that the creation of a Green Bank division within the new Canadian Infrastructure Bank can fill an institutional and finance gap in Canada and spark greater private investment in clean energy infrastructure.

The Green Bank model has been deployed around the world to accomplish similar goals, and has proven effective. Canada is well suited to adopting the Green Bank model because of its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals, its focus on “green infrastructure” investment, and its present lack of institutions dedicated to project finance for the broad deployment of commercially viable clean energy solutions. The new Infrastructure Bank would be an ideal institutional home for a Green Bank.

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Investing in Civic Assets Concept Brief: Building a Roadmap for a Civic Assets Investment Fund

The purpose of this Civic Assets study is to explore new forms of collaboration and resourcing to optimize the physical assets that comprise our civic commons – libraries, under-utilized or surplus government lands/properties, parks, community centres, faith-based properties and other buildings that act as places of civic gathering.

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Building Canada’s Low-Carbon Approach to Infrastructure Investments through Prioritization, Policy and Procurement

A proactive approach is required to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions across government decision-making. The purpose of this report is to provide recommendations for the federal and Ontario governments on the public policies that will drive clean innovation and growth, and provide guidance for investments in sustainable, low-carbon, resilient infrastructure that are aligned with compact, complete community design, provincial growth planning, and that provide economic and community benefits.

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Civic Innovation from the Outside In

Speakers: Shea Sinnott, Stephane Guidoin, Janet Moore, Greg Woolner, Brad Badelt, Duane Elverum

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From Disengaged to Decision Maker

Speakers: Ryan Lo, Bojan Francuz, Veronika Bylicki, Kristina Smith, Megan Marcoux

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Future Cities Canada Roadshow Report

From late 2017 to early 2018, Future Cities Canada worked with partners across the country to host a series of roundtable conversations and meetings with municipalities and communities. These meetings gathered insights about the opportunities and challenges facing cities and regions in order to collectively build a vision for equitable, regenerative and prosperous 21st century cities. These conversations from each city are captured in this final document.

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Future Cities Canada: A Systems Approach to Urban Innovation

Historically, cities have always been natural incubators for experimentation, change and progress. Today, our cities are on the brink of a new wave of innovation, driven by emerging practices related to governance and participation, a panoply of powerful new technologies, the availability of massive amounts of urban data, and novel sources and forms of capital investment. But the forces of inertia are also present in the form of established procedures, legacy mind-sets, and vested interests. To make progress, it is important that forward-looking people share a vision and language of change, take inspiration from successful models of change, and have a sense of where change can be achieved with the least resistance.

This brief report takes a modest step towards addressing these needs by sketching out a theory of change that could be used by Future Cities Canada to guide the partners as they design and develop this promising new coalition.

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Future Planning: Infrastructure and Investment

Speakers: Beth McMahon, John Purkis, Patrick Robinson, Carl Skelton

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How to be Smart(er) in Mid-Sized Cities in Ontario

It is increasingly clear that data and technology are becoming synonymous with city-building. This movement towards “smart cities” will continue to accelerate in the years to come, presenting a critical opportunity and challenge for leaders in communities of all sizes. This paper, written in partnership with Code for Canada, discusses the opportunities for data and technology in Canada’s mid-sized cities, with a particular focus on Ontario.

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Realizing Social and Economic Objectives through Infrastructure Planning and Investment

Municipal governments own almost 60% of Canada’s infrastructure. In Ontario, billions of dollars in investment are forthcoming from the provincial and federal governments over the next decade to assist with municipal infrastructure needs. In light of the scale of this investment, and growing interest in this topic in Ontario, this study was commissioned by Evergreen with three objectives:

  • to explore how Ontario municipalities can use community benefits to maximize social and economic outcomes through better infrastructure planning and investment, in order to deliver greater value for people and communities;
  • to address how community benefits can be aligned with or incorporated into Ontario’s municipal asset management program; and
  • to provide preliminary thinking as to how community benefits can be evaluated.
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Realizing the Resilient City

Speakers: Christine Arthurs, Elliott Cappell, Grant Ervin, Andrew Salkin, Jeb Brugmann

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Strategies for Inclusive Economies

Speakers: Rosemarie Powell, Colette Murphy, David Hulchanski, Daniele Zanotti, Hugo Steben, Patience Adamu

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Urban Territories 1: Places for People, Stream 1

Stream 1: Canadian Relationships and Reconciliation for Indigenous Identity and Space, with speakers Suzanne Stewart and Robert Sleeper and Clayton Shirt

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Urban Territories 1: Places for People, Stream 3

Stream 3: Revitalizing an Under-Utilized Ecological Asset in the City, the Don River Valley Park with speakers Doug Bennet and Lisa Ditschun

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We Are Cities Action Agenda

The We Are Cities campaign, an initiative between Evergreen and McConnell Foundation’s Cities for People, engaged thousands of residents, asking them to imagine an agenda for the future of our cities. In the end, this Action Agenda was created to establish the five priority areas for action.

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Introducing the Civic Commons Catalyst

Mary Rowe, Senior Advisor at Evergreen and Bridget Marquis, Director of Reimagining the Civic Commons, US. Bridget and Mary discuss the state of civic commons in Canada and share lessons from our southern neighbours in the first webinar of Future Cities Canada’s Civic Commons Catalyst.

Hubs as Part of the Civic Commons

​Marina Queirolo and James Chan speak about their research on place-based hubs and why they play such an important role in our civic commons. They share insights from their research within the Civic Commons Catalyst and highlight some innovative ways that hubs are connecting, supporting, and empowering their local community.

Civic Commons Catalyst webinar: Inclusive Public Celebrations in the Civic Commons

For cities, holidays and cultural celebrations drive transformation in community atmospheres. Suddenly streets change colours, decorations hung, and festivals turn sleepy downtown cores into large-scale parties for locals and tourists alike. Festivals have countless benefits; they bring diverse people together, increase economic opportunities, celebrate food and culture and increase a sense of belonging. However, more often than not, community or multicultural groups encounter barriers to hosting their celebrations in public spaces. Even worse, cultural festivals can result in cultural appropriation and commercialization by other groups. Join Sabina Ali and Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in a conversation about the importance of saying YES to cultural celebrations in public spaces and why these events need to be led by the community they represent.

From Consultation to Co-creation - Accelerating Innovation in Participatory Practices

There is tremendous variance in the levels of enthusiasm and proficiency with which civic engagement is carried out across different communities (and even between different departments within municipalities), and just as much divergence in its actual effect on policy- and decision-making. Join Synapcity and BetaCityYEG as they discuss the role of civic commons in advancing civic participation and empowering residents in influencing and shaping city building decisions. This webinar will be hosted and moderated by Ayana Webb.

Civic Commons Catalyst webinars: Resilient People, Places, and Social Infrastructure

This conversation will explore the role public assets play in building opportunities for resident participation and belonging within cities and the mechanisms available to build, enhance, and protect these spaces. Hear from Ajeev Bhatia of the Centre for Connected Communities (C3) as he showcases and unpacks clips from Tamika Butler and Eric Klinenberg’s TD Future Cities Speaker Series talk to frame a conversation about how we create resilient places and communities for people to flourish. This webinar is hosted and moderated by Ajeev Bhatia and supported by Ayana Webb.

Civic Commons Catalyst webinar: Libraries Reimagined

In the first webinar of 2020, we’ll explore a unique twist on a Civic Commons classic – the library. Often referred to as a “third space” for many people, libraries have been diversifying their offerings in recent decades. We discuss the protection of libraries as expanded spaces for learning, gathering and mobilizing.

Civic Commons Catalyst webinar: Participatory Places

A conversation with the Winnipeg Boldness Project and Vivo for Healthier Generations around participatory places. Learn more about their approaches to enabling collective decision-making, creating places for resident empowerment, and building participatory cultures in their cities. This webinar was hosted and moderated by Ayana Webb.

Community Hubs as Resilience: Before, During & After Crisis

Community hubs have been adapting their services in response to COVID-19 public health recommendations. What is the role of the community hub now, amidst crises? What can they be doing? What have they already been doing to strengthen resiliency leading up to a crisis? And what do they represent in the vision of a stronger future afterwards?

Civic Commons Catalyst webinar: Faith-Based Community Hubs

Many faith-based spaces are changing considerably, and congregations within the United Church are emerging as leaders in repositioning their centres as community assets. This includes the potential to share land and infrastructure available through faith-based centres, while balancing challenges around funding, public perception historical and present exclusion in faith centres, decolonization and reparations.

Drawing from Sherbourne Primrose United in Dufferin County ON and Kirk Centre United in Edmonton AB, this webinar dives into how connectedness and shared values, combined with a true investment in partnership and relationships can bring faith-centres back into the hands of the community.

Smart City Discourse the Importance of Communication in the Development of Smart Cities

Cities in Canada and across the world are grappling with the many operational, technical, and ethical concerns that accompany the adoption of smart city approaches. Alongside these challenges is a growing public dialogue on smart cities. Communication is an important area of focus, and we should consider how society, and its institutions, talk about and frame the concept of smart cities in the public dialogue.

This research brief was written by Michelle Collyer and focuses on the communications aspects of smart cities, and specifically analyzes Infrastructure Canada’s communications surrounding the Smart Cities Challenge (SCC).


Everyone Left – Smart City Maintenance and Continuity

Smart city projects are initially successful when innovators are dedicating their attention to specific sites, but what happens when innovators move on? A lack of attention can lead to things falling apart and experimental systems failing faster than expected.

This paper was written by Graeme Ross Kennedy and presents five lenses that outline technological risks and opportunities for building sustainable practices into smart city plans.


The Future Fix: How Innisfil is using Uber as public transit

In our first episode, we explore the unique relationship between the town of Innisfil, Ontario, and the controversial ride-hailing company Uber. Jason Reynar, the town’s chief administrative officer, explains this relationship, and how it has changed transit choices for the people there.

Listen to Episode 1 of the Future Fix!

How Local Governments Are(n’t) Engaging the Public in Smart City Initiatives

From the introduction of the automobile to the rise of the internet and now applications that facilitate a sharing economy, the form and function of cities have been shaped by technological innovation. In some instances, residents advocated for and welcomed this change; sometimes not. Sometimes this change has been positive; other times it has had negative impacts on health, prosperity, equity, and social cohesion. In Canadian democratic society, residents should have a role in choosing change, though from experience we know this does not always occur.

This research brief was written by Lindsay Toth and examines the Smart City Challenge submissions to understand local governments’ current approach to public engagement and their awareness of and response to key issues related to smart city initiatives.


The Future Fix: Who Governs the Smart City

In this episode of the Future Fix: Solutions for Communities Across Canada, we explore the role of local government has to play in smart city projects with Pamela Robinson, director of Ryerson’s School of Urban and Regional Planning, and Future Cities Canada Fellow. We also discuss the price that is paid when marginalized communities don’t have access to the data being collected about them, or any say in how it’s gathered with Jonathan Dewar, executive director of the First Nations Information Governance Centre.

Listen to Episode 2 of the Future Fix!

The Future Fix: Fast internet for rural communities

In this episode of the Future Fix, we uncover how, although access to reliable internet has become an essential service, necessary for local businesses, education, and even healthcare, there’s a connectivity gap which has left over half of rural communities without this level of service. Mayor Larry Oakden paints us a picture of Hamiota, Manitoba, and the co-operative solution the surrounding municipalities there came up with to bring everyone online. And Gary Wilson, Indigenous engagement and outreach lead for Connected Communities B.C. talks about consulting with Coastal First Nations communities in British Columbia to find modern broadband solutions that compliment their way of life.”

Listen to Episode 3 of the Future Fix!

The Future Fix: Food Security and Circular Economies

In this episode, we face the perplexing coexistence of a lack food security and abundance of food waste in Canada. Many Canadians living without reliable access to food in their day to day lives, but despite that, much of the food we do have – 2.2 million tonnes of it - goes to waste every year. Evidently, we need to change the way we produce food, and change the linear economy that leads to so much waste, and leaves many people without this basic necessity for life.

Listen to Episode 5 of the Future Fix!

The Future Fix: Inclusion and a new “smart” campus in Montreal

*This episode is part of the French podcast series, Face au Futur.

Dans cet épisode de Face au futur, nous avons voulu réfléchir à la façon dont le monde académique pourrait s’insérer dans le concept de ville intelligente. Le nouveau Campus MIL de l’Université de Montréal, inauguré en septembre 2019, correspond bien à l’idée que l’on pourrait se faire d’un établissement universitaire intégré dans un contexte de ville intelligente.

Écoutez à cet épisode de Face au futur!

A Case for the Circular Economy in the Age of “Smart” Innovation

Cities are experiencing a new wave of innovation, driven by emerging practices in governance and participation, new technologies, the availability of data, and new sources and forms of capital investment. As governments modernize, can they catalyse circular economy (CE) efforts?

Examining the Canadian Smart Cities Challenge (SCC) applications, this research paper found that CE thinking was not at the forefront of Canadian municipalities and Indigenous communities who submitted proposals and offers suggestions for ways to enable circular economy thinking throughout the advancement of smart city technology.

This research brief was written by Vickey Simovic, and is an adaptation of a Masters Research Paper presented to Ryerson University for the Master of Planning in Urban Development, supervised by Dr. Pamela Robinson.


Health and Data in the Canadian Urban Landscape

This report analyzes Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge applications with an eye to the health of cities and residents, revealing that resident health and well-being stood out as a central concern that multiple municipalities were looking to address in a variety of ways.

This research brief was written by Andrew Ramsaroop, and is an adaptation of a Masters Research Paper presented to Ryerson University for the Master of Planning in Urban Development, supervised by Dr. Pamela Robinson.