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Evergreen’s 5 city building trends to watch for in 2018

The future looks bright for Canadian cities. Evergreen CEO Geoff Cape talks us through the top things to watch next year.
A bird's eye view of a city's streetscape.
Top image caption: Downtown aeriel view

Published on December 12, 2017

By: Geoff Cape, Evergreen CEO

We are at a transformative moment.

With more than half of Canada’s population living in cities, it is vital that Canadian cities take a leadership role in amplifying and accelerating a multi-sector shift toward inclusive low-carbon urban innovations.

Since its inception, Evergreen has strived to build knowledge, networks and actions to catalyze innovation in how we invest in, govern and engage in the future of our cities. Faced with some of the greatest challenges of our time — inequality, climate change and economic pressure — cities around the world have an unprecedented opportunity to take the critical steps to ensure that communities of all sizes flourish for generations to come.

This calls for big ideas and next year, we are watching for more of these bold actions:

Investment in low carbon economy: In 2018 Evergreen will continue to convene leaders from Canadian financial sectors, non-profits dedicated to clean energy and multi-levels of government to support the creation of a green bank unit in Canada within the planned Canada Infrastructure Bank. Such investments will enable innovation and push for higher standards in how we build sustainable and economically vibrant cities for the future.

Already, we’ve seen a glimpse. In 2016, the Government of Ontario announced plans to create a provincial Green Bank as part of its Climate Change Action Plan, which would capitalize revenue from the province’s cap-and-trade system and focus on deploying distributed clean energy technology. 

Laneway consultation at Evergreen Brick Works.

More collaboration: Cities need to become bigger partners by bringing together leaders from the private sector, academia, government and civil society to shape our communities for the better. Organizations like the Canada’s J. W. McConnell Foundation, the Community Foundations of Canada, the Maison de l’innovation sociale in Quebec and Reimaging the Civic Commons in the US have successfully combined significant new forms of capital, urban and/or public sector innovations and networks that lead to place-based community capacity building.

Innovation in how we build cities: Testing and disseminating innovative prototypes is the pathway to raise the bar in how we build resilient cities of the future. This process is already in action at Evergreen Brick Works, Evergreen’s national headquarters in Toronto. Next year we come closer to reaching our ambitious goal to create a carbon neutral campus with the redevelopment of the Kiln Building. And through it, we are creating a new hub where thought-leaders and citizens come together to test and drive change for future low carbon cities across the country.

Working group at a computer

Creation of a national urban data strategy: New data-driven solutions must address growing urban complexities of Canadian cities. Nationally, Code for Canada helps government and communities harness the power of technology and design to solve civic challenges.

Acknowledge Indigenous presence in Canadian communities: Cities must be incubators for new economic opportunities that manifest values of reconciliation and integrate Indigenous communications and perspectives in building more inclusive and equitable cities. The Indigenous Placemaking Council, for example, strives to create inclusive, culturally appropriate, sustainable communities that reflect and celebrate Indigenous identity, world-views and values.

On the provincial level, the Bras d’Or Lakes Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative (CEPI) in Cape Breton, initiated by the 5 Mi'kmaq Chiefs of Unama'ki in 2003, engages multi-level government partners and the broader community to address an environmental management issues plan for the Bras d’Or lakes and watershed lands.

It’s time to rapidly scale our culture of innovation in this country. This coming year, we look forward to working together on these initiatives to ensure that Canadian cities become the international standard for great places to live, work and play.