Creating a Blueprint for Canada’s Future Cities

Today, 12% of Canadians use public transportation on a daily basis. That number spikes in city centres, but cars still make up 80% of transportation in Canada.

When thinking about how to make cities of the future we can ask ourselves:

How would our streets, cities and people
transform with ubiquitous public transport?

This was the future reality explored at the Future Cities Summit at Evergreen Brickworks in November of 2018 at workshop titled: Future-Planning: Infrastructure & Investment, exploring the unexpected and imagining the opportunities for a bold and compelling new vision for Canada’s future cities and towns.

The workshop explored 5 key areas of change: mobility, housing, public space, energy and policy, each reaching radical and exciting future states. But the mobility session had perhaps the boldest imagining for future Canadian cities:

By 2075 there are no private cars on the “road” (autonomous or other).

Instead, we had created a world with a highly integrated public transit system, accessible by everyone. It’s quick, ubiquitous and maintained with the highest quality. Every city, every suburb and every person has the same level of access to transportation, accessibility and movement. We also have introduced a sharing economy and redesigned the concept of a “street” to be leisure spaces.

bike city

The Future Cities Summit is in its first year and brought together representatives from the public and private sectors. Activists, visionaries, private business owners and public servants from across sectors and interests came together to build a new understanding of what our future cities could be.

The very exciting and humbling responsibility we hold as city-makers was felt throughout the summit and it was highly evident that the choices we make now will drastically affect our future cities and the people living within. Although the reality represented above may not be completely feasible - by exploring the compelling spaces for opportunity spaces now, we can identify investment opportunities for future cities.

Top conference themes

Growing Equitably

Activist Desmond Cole challenged the audience to address the neighbourhood segregation and marginalisation of communities in Toronto. How can we address a growing socio-economic gap in our cities and ensure intentional, equitable and inclusive growth and opportunities for all communities in our future cities to overcome socio-economic barriers?

Working Together

Andrea Reimer (ex-Vancouver City Council) heavily touched on the concept of power during her part of the Innovation Showcase from North and South (North America). She stated that we need to reimagine the definition of power and redefine the current definition of power. How can we create great future cities on the framework of shared decision making, collaboration, equality and inclusivity?

Fostering Resilience

As population density builds, the concept of “resilience” will become vital to our future cities. As citymakers, we have to ask ourselves - how can we build resilience communities and cities in an ever-changing climate? How can we predict the unpredictable?

Harnessing Technology

How can we build integrated cities where we support and encourage the advancement of technology, while supporting the needs and priorities of residents and enhancing the social connection, liveability and creativity of communities?

toronto smart city

As we ended our workshop on the future of mobility, I realized that there were people in the room who could help move the dial towards that imagined world - one where public transit is free of charge and accessible to all.

At the closing of the workshop, the facilitators asked:

“What can we invest in now to make this imagined future city a reality?”

So, in that same vein, I’ll leave you with this:

“How can we, as citymakers (and everyday citizens) build and support the cities of the future?”