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Evergreen’s checklist for future leaders

Ten top decisions to make in order to build flourishing provinces, territories and municipalities in Canada.

People jogging down a recreational trail.

Published on June 06, 2018

We have been hard at work facilitating change, collaborating with other city builders to convene, collaborate and catalyze ideas into actions.

Part of this work is preparing our provinces and territories, our cities and municipalities, and our communities to ensure that Canada continues to lead the way in creating inclusive cities of the future. This means planning for disruption, whether it be technological advances, changing demographics or a changing climate.

We want to spur innovation and investment in the low-carbon economy, build our cities to be more sustainable and inclusive, and help create amazing public spaces that connect people to where they live and to one another.

Evergreen has identified 10 items on our checklist in order for leaders to help build future cities.

1. Promote and plan for intensification, not sprawl: Building in already developed, urbanized areas will create cities that are accessible, affordable and healthy. Our leaders need to recognize that more compact development is the way to build thriving cities. An effective land use planning system offers opportunities to curb sprawl and protect farmland and green spaces, and build more complete communities. Complete communities meet people’s needs for daily living throughout an entire lifetime by providing convenient access to an appropriate mix of jobs, local services, a full range of housing, and community infrastructure including affordable housing, schools, recreation and open space for their residents.

Laneway consultation photo.
Photo: Jamie McMillan/Crazy Dames

2. Diversify and support all types of housing options in neighbourhoods: It’s important to provide all residents with access to established, sought-after neighbourhoods. Retrofitting older apartment buildings and approving laneway suites are just two ways we can do this.

3. Invest in a low-carbon economy: Markets have provided clear policy signals across all Canadian jurisdictions that a low carbon economy is not only important for meeting climate and environmental goals, but it is also good for economic prosperity and job growth. In order to build a better country, cities, communities and provinces a shift from fossil fuels to renewable and efficient energy is imperative. Carbon pricing programs that use that money to create low-carbon infrastructure is one powerful way to advance this transition. Last year, Evergreen began convening leaders from multi-levels of government, financial sectors and non-profit dedicated to clean energy to support the creation of a green bank unit in Canada within the planned Canada Infrastructure Bank.

City street at night.

4. Create and support a data strategy: Data is a large and invaluable component to building cities that have a real impact on their residents. Research has shown that more technologically innovative cities are also more unequal cities. It’s more important than ever to look at how cities can be more innovative and increasingly equal at the same time. Evergreen and its partners are hard at work convening the Future Cities Canada Urban Data and Governance Lab to help guide data-driven solutions to inform and design the development of a national data policy strategy for cities.

5. Invest in growth and development within mid-sized cities:  Currently home to over a third of the Canadian population, mid-sized cities are increasingly seen as a key ingredient to Canada’s future growth. Mid-sized cities suffer from a scarcity of planning models suited to their particular needs and circumstances. This must change.

Kids play with each other outdoors.

6. Support nature play and outdoor education for all children: Green school grounds are inspired by the natural world, incorporating elements such as trees, rocks and shade to create a diverse landscape for children to explore and play. When combined with movable features—or with something as simple as sticks and shovels—they can bring out a child’s inner builder, architect and adventurer.

7. Develop mobility systems that offer solutions for everyone: We must offer people ways to get around their communities that are accessible, sustainable and safe.

An indoor photo of the kiln building at Evergreen Brick Works.

8. Build infrastructure that is resilient: We need to plan and build for our changing climate. We must mitigate the effects of climate change with green infrastructure and by offsetting carbon that occurs in the construction process. Since its inception Evergreen has been pushing the boundaries of sustainable design and construction. Our ambitious project to redevelop the historic kiln building at Evergreen Brick Works aims to create one of the first carbon neutral sites.

9. Integrate technology and data in positive ways: Building smart cities requires that technology and data be used in ways that better the quality of life for all people, fulfilling a need in the community.

Gargoyle sculptures along a bike trail.

10. Investing in urban greenspace in innovative ways: Greenspace in our cities is becoming increasingly important as our urban population continues to grow. We encourage our leaders to think of creative ways that will bring people out to connect with their natural environment, such as incorporating public art in these spaces. Evergreen, through its Don River Valley Park Art Program, has been working with artists to present a series of works that respond to the ecological, cultural, industrial and Indigenous histories and future of the Don Valley in Toronto, adding a new narrative to the city's collective ravine story.  

We hope all our leaders will work to build future cities by following this checklist. Do your part and get out and vote for the candidate you feel best represents your needs!