History of Future Cities Canada

We shared a vision for sustainable and inclusive cities of the future. We worked together because working alone was not the answer.

What was Future Cities Canada?

Future Cities Canada was created to build off the innovative work happening in cities and improve cross-sectoral collaboration across the country. As a network of partners, we launched a number of programs to address issues that many communities face: the need for more community-level climate action, housing, shared mobility alternatives, Indigenous inclusion in city-building, resources for rural and remote communities, and digital competencies. This work lives on at Evergreen through our projects, events and partnerships.

Our group of founding partners is comprised of Evergreen, the McConnell Foundation, Maison de l’innovation sociale, TD Bank Group and the Community Foundations of Canada. Later, Infrastructure Canada, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Suncor Energy Foundation joined us with funding support.

The Evolution of Future Cities Canada

How It Started

The groundwork for Future Cities Canada began in 2015. Evergreen and Cities for People came together for the We Are Cities campaign. We engaged thousands of citizens by asking them to imagine an agenda for the future of our cities and came out of this project with the We Are Cities Action Agenda, a collective expression of the kinds of cities we want. The Agenda was built with the intention of inspiring and catalyzing local and national action, building on efforts already underway.


A subsequent report published in November 2017, Towards a Civic Commons Strategy by Evergreen and the McConnell Foundation, revealed the need for collaborative infrastructure to catalyze inclusive innovation in our cities.

What We Created

Through a process of collaboration, we created national-scale programs and projects that resulted in tools, publications, and events that will continue to advance the health and livability of our cities.


In 2018, Evergreen opened the TD Future Cities Centre, an innovative adaptive reuse of a former kiln building at Evergreen Brick Works, to become a space for urban thought leaders and city builders to gather, co-create, test and prototype solutions for building inclusive low-carbon cities of the future. The Centre was home to the Future Cities Canada Summit in 2018 and 2019. Virtual versions of The Summit were held in 2020 and 2021, also under the name #UnexpectedSolutions, and are available to watch online.


The following programs will continue to be stewarded by Evergreen.

  • AI for the Resilient City: The data visualization and analytics tool — funded initially through a grant from Microsoft’s AI for Earth program and now supported by the RBC Foundation through RBC Tech for Nature and others — aims to help municipalities across Canada plan for and mitigate the impacts of climate change, in particular urban heat islands.
  • Community Solutions Network: The Community Solutions Network is a program led by Evergreen in partnership with Open North. Our team works with communities to build capacity and improve the lives of residents using data and connected technology approaches. We deliver advisory services, workshops, and online resources that focus on key areas such as climate resilience, data governance, inclusive public space, technology procurement, and public engagement. The Community Solutions Network is supported by funding from the Government of Canada.
  • Housing Supply Challenge Support Program: The Housing Supply Challenge, delivered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), encourages residents, stakeholders, and experts from across Canada to propose innovative solutions that help break down the barriers that limit new housing supply. The Housing Supply Challenge Support Program, run by Evergreen, supports applicants to the Housing Supply Challenge by providing guidance, mentorship, and the resources needed to develop and improve their submission.


Labs, Projects and More

We are proud of the legacy of Future Cities Canada projects that we created with our partners. These projects helped us test ideas and create impact. Some of the following projects evolved into the programs we have today:

  • Civic Commons Catalyst
    Evergreen and the University of Calgary School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL) partnered to support the creation of the Civic Commons Catalyst in Calgary—a creative, shared platform to research, convene and ideate, evaluate, and develop public and private real estate investment opportunities in Alberta’s cities and communities. For more on the project, read the report.
  • Civic Capital Movement
    The Civic Capital Movement was a collaborative project seeking to fundamentally shift the way we understand the value embedded into our civic assets toward developing system financing tools and models for our current and future commons and collective wealth. Led by founding partners Community Foundations Canada, Dark Matter Labs, Evergreen, Maison de l’innovation sociale, MaRS Discovery District, and McConnell Foundation.
  • Civic Commons Lab
    The Civic Commons Lab focused on profiling civic commons and the value they create with and for residents and prototyping new tools that help to strengthen them so they may continue to create community cohesion. This project demonstrates how civic commons, particularly smaller, place-based community hubs, continue to be important anchors in our communities.
  • Data Governance Lab
    Evergreen and MaRS Solutions Lab used research from Open North to work with select communities to refine their problem statements, understand principles for good data governance for municipalities, apply the Open Smart Cities Guide principles and pilot a local Open Smart governance model that supports an existing program or initiative.
  • Our Urban Futures
    Our Urban Futures convenes infrastructure and real estate experts, including planners, agencies and members of local, provincial, and federal government from three urban regions—Calgary, Greater Toronto Area and Greater Montreal—to explore how strategic foresight tools can help Canada invest more strategically in urban development and shape initiatives that create responsive, reliable, and future-ready plans for Canada. This project was well documented and lives on via this collection of resources.
  • Future Cities Canada Forum (2019-2022)
    In the first Forum, the Future Cities Canada Advisory Group recognized it was a priority to break down silos and find opportunities for shared learning and collaboration among cities, within cities, and across sectors. The group was strongly aligned on the need to create a culture of experimentation and risk-taking. More specifically, the group understood that  Indigenous sovereignty is essential to responding to the climate crisis, and there is a need for civic commons stewards to support Indigenous governance, be willing to listen, and approach problems accordingly. For two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, the group met virtually and found ways to understand the impacts that this new challenge was bringing to cities and citizens around Canada. For more on the forum, see this round-up from 2021.
  • Indigenous Re-imagining of Cities Project
    Lives on via the Civic-Indigenous Placekeeping and Partnership Building Toolkit
  • TD Future Cities Speaker Series
    Now the Evergreen Ignite Speaker Series
  • The Future Cities Canada Summit / Le Sommet
    Now the Evergreen Conference
Moving Forward

Future Cities Canada was successful in creating a series of intensive research initiatives to help us distill the key elements to take forward and integrate into our programming. The work and collaborative spirit that began with Future Cities Canada will continue through Evergreen’s work:

  • Convening people from across sectors and hosting an annual conference.
  • Disseminating knowledge through our speaker series (now called Ignite).
  • Sharing innovative community solutions and empowering communities to minimize climate impacts.
  • Putting public places at the centre of regenerative and resilient cities.
  • Partnering with First Nations and Indigenous communities on placekeeping initiatives.
  • Encouraging innovation in housing supply access and affordability.

TD Future Cities Centre at Evergreen Brick Works

Evergreen is committed to working with organizations, communities and individuals in the pursuit of equitable and regenerative cities and communities.