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People participate in a laneway consultation at Evergreen Brick Works. Image Credit: Jamie McMillan/Crazy Dames
Image Credit: Jamie McMillan/Crazy Dames

May 01, 2018

Fostering collaboration with city builders through hubs, labs and learning networks

Canadian cities have always been at the forefront of experimentation, progress and change. Our largest cities are being recognized for it.

Calgary is home to the largest number of technology start-ups per capita in Canada, Vancouver has become known as “Silicon Valley North” and Montreal has emerged as a hotspot for advances in artificial intelligence. In Ontario, Toronto was recently named one of the top 10 innovative cities in the world and Ottawa is currently undergoing a huge boom in recruitment for their innovation sectors.

How can we use this momentum, which has been largely focused around innovation in the private tech space, to build better cities across the country?

The collaborative infrastructure of Future Cities Canada is finding new ways to build cities that are equitable, regenerative and prosperous. 

The foundation of this platform to establish innovation are our hubs, labs and learning networks. These three approaches to collaboration work together to invite, encourage and enable participation across sectors. The more voices in the conversation, the better our cities will become. 

People attend a mayoral debate at Evergreen Brick Works.

Our approach to hubs, the physical space: 

Hubs are physical. They play a key role in sparking collaboration by providing dynamic and inspiring spaces where people can meet, discuss, learn, and organize to spur creativity and make connections. 

The redeveloped kiln building at Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto and Montreal’s Ville D’Avenir will anchor a community of hubs across Canada. Our hubs network will create a diverse and engaged community of innovators and change-makers to address the most pressing urban issues of our time – climate change and inequality. This network will fuel Future Cities Canada's ability to build capacity, take on new projects, and test and prototype solutions.

Our approach to labs, the incubators:

Labs act as incubators of new approaches through the collaboration of diverse people from across sectors. They provide a unique space with room for ideation and experimentation that will fuel the solutions to complex urban issues. 

There’s an opportunity to activate engagement across sectors both on a national and an international level. Our projects, such as the Capital Innovation Lab and the Urban Data Lab, sparks new ideas and strategies that will flow into our network of hubs for testing and piloting.

Our approach to learning networks, the framework:

Learning networks support peer-to-peer learning and are the foundation of Future Cities Canada’s collaborative infrastructure. They are a platform for knowledge sharing and a means to foster partnerships, support capacity development and disseminate best practices in recognition of progress made in city building around the globe.

They allow for interactive communication and participation to create new opportunities for residents, practitioners and organizations to exchange, share and enable dialogue around the future of our cities. Learning networks form the backbone of our approach at Future Cities Canada.