Skip to content
People walk on a city street.

May 23, 2018

Reimagining Our Urban Futures: Why we need to plan like we’ve never planned before

We are in the midst of a transformative moment for our cities. Not only is this thanks to unprecedented investment from both the public and private sectors, but it’s also because of disruption.

Our cities are changing at a rapid rate due to disruptive forces such as climate change, demographic shifts and technology. Urban changes in the 20th century will pale in comparison to our urban transformation over the next 80 years.

We must build cities not just for today, but for the future. Rapid change means it’s even more important to imagine and plan for the needs of our cities 10, 20 and even 50 years down the road.

Our governments, businesses and researchers are realizing the potential of our cities, their infrastructure and their people. They are also seeing the need for transformation.

A bird's eye view of a highway.

Over the next decade, all levels of government will invest upwards of $750 billion in our cities. Followed by potential investment from the private sector, that number has the potential to grow sevenfold.

It’s an opportunity to position Canada as a leader in building thriving cities for all — a moment to ensure we build flourishing cities that are equitable, regenerative and prosperous. 

Data-driven foresight and scenario planning is a key tool that will help us build these types of cities, and respond to the rapid disruption they’re facing.

Our Urban Futures is a phased research and foresight planning project to support and enable this ambition.

Future Cities Canada is connecting the people already doing this long-term scenario planning to plan and build flourishing cities. A multi-sector group of stakeholders, beginning with Deloitte, OCAD University, University of Toronto and Century Initiative, is assembling around this work, developing a collective vision for our cities.

We’re working together to consider the future of our population growth, climate change, changes in governance and civic participation, alternative infrastructure investments and how to these changes, collaborating to establish an informed, effective and long-term strategy for Canada’s cities.

Grounded in data and fueled by optimism, Our Urban Futures is a foundational project that is part of our broader work. It’s a chance to imagine the cities we want, together.

People work on a map at an event at Evergreen Brick Works.

This project has three distinct phases.

Phase 1 will serve as the research component to the project, producing a report based on current trends in urbanization, projecting financial investments to the year 2067.  The investment forecast will extrapolate on current patterns, gross domestic product and planned spending. This financial forecast will characterize the economic envelope and provoke the question: how will we invest in our future?

Phase 1 will spark a national conversation about “our urban futures”.

Phase 2 will convene stakeholders in cities across Canada to imagine alternative, aspirational scenarios for how we might build our cities to create a more flourishing future for everyone.

This is the most important phase, given the opportunity to develop a collective vision for cities in the process. We will ask diverse groups of stakeholders to dream big and imagine alternative futures for our cities, supported by leaders in the field of strategic foresight and visualization.

Phase 3 will see groups working together to bring our envisioned future to live. They’ll convene for design sessions, working together to develop policies, programs and action-oriented plans to create more equitable, regenerative and prosperous cities.

Our Urban Futures will help craft a point of view that looks at the horizon with intentionality, to help chart a path forward and show the world how cities can, and should, be developed.

Join us today and sign up for the Future Cities Canada newsletter.