Evergreen CEO Geoff Cape on shaping Canadian cities for the future
When social innovation is done right Canada can lead the way in advancing low-carbon cities of the future.
The scale of urban development across the country is massive.
Canadian cities find themselves in an exciting position. Over the next decade, three levels of government are poised to invest $750 billion in urban infrastructure. And the private sector is set to follow suit, investing up to seven times that amount. That’s upwards of more than $4 trillion aimed at city building. So how can we ensure that the cities we create are progressive, sustainable and inclusive – a model for the rest of the world?
The opportunity is enormous and the next generation of leaders need to be smart in how they build in innovation to shape our cities for the future.
For over 25 years, Evergreen has been at the forefront of making cities flourish by moving bold ideas to action in communities across the country. Our unique approach of connecting people, natural and built worlds has accelerated change in areas of housing, transportation and mobility, climate resiliency, conservation, urban agriculture and outdoor learning and play.
When social innovation is done right, Canada can lead the way in advancing low-carbon cities of the future. Here are three essential actions to make it happen:
- Convene across sectors. Our role at Evergreen has been to bring together partners to test and drive change in city building. Through more than 80 projects currently on the go, we have connected government, industry leaders, academics, Canadian innovators and citizens to transform spaces into amazing public places. The creation of the Don River Valley Park project, a massive 200-hectare greenspace in the heart of Toronto’s ravine system, is one example of how organizations, private donors and the city can build inspiring public space that is inclusive in urban design and city systems growth.
- Collaborate to push the boundaries in how we build sustainable cities. Since its inception Evergreen Brick Works has been a test site to prototype innovative low-carbon city projects that can be scaled up for communities across the country. This year we’ve set an ambitious goal to create a carbon neutral campus with the redevelopment of the historic Kiln Building – creating a new hub where thought-leaders and citizens come together to the push boundaries of city building. The project is one of the first in Canada to set and strive for a carbon neutral target.
- Catalyze change by focusing on the role of people and public places play in cities. No question, we need to engage citizens how their cities can be built. Projects like Evergreen’s Green Bloc Neighbourhoods in Vancouver and the annual 100In1Day festival demonstrate how small citizen-led changes can make big improvements to our cities.
Together, I know that we can position Canada as a global leader and create an exportable opportunity that will impact cities around the world. Places themselves that are doing great work to transform and innovate their cities through programs like Living Cities, Fab City, Participatory City and Google's Sidewalk Labs.