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City Builder Glossary

The #CityGlossary will help guide you through the realm of city building. What does it mean when we talk about capacity building or smart cities? What even is a city builder? Find out!

Streetscape in Tokyo. Image: Chris Chan/Unsplash
Image: Chris Chan/Unsplash

In our work helping create flourishing cities across the country, we come across, and use, terms that would be considered jargon in everyday conversations. But this isn't always the best when we're trying to create city building that is inclusive for all. This glossary will help you to understand more about city building. Follow the conversation online with #CityGlossary. 

City Builder Terms:

Capacity Building

/kə-ˈpa-sə-tē bil-diŋ /

Providing the support and resources, such as workshops, mentorship and research, needed in order for people to make a positive impact on their cities, from residents and organizations to practitioners and city officials.

City Builder

/ˈsitē ˈbildər/

A person who influences positive change to the cultural, social, environmental, physical and/or economic components of a city.

Civic Engagement

/ ˈsi-vik ‘in-ˈgāj-mənt/

A process and practice that seeks to include residents in the decision making around city building. This can be led by individuals or groups, by public or private organizations, or by the government.

Civic Incubator

/ˈsi-vik ˈiŋ-kyə-ˌbā-tər /

A program that nurtures city builders by providing them with skills training and education, and access to a network of resources.

Flourishing City

/ˈflər-i-shiŋ sitē/

A city that is thriving, resilient and inclusive at its core, where all residents benefit from the thoughtful integration of the natural and built world.

Inclusive Innovation

/in-ˈklü-siv ˌi-nə-ˈvā-shən/

People of diverse experiences and backgrounds working collectively to find new ways to solve complex urban challenges that make cities a better place for all.



Adding homes, transportation, jobs, schools and other forms of density in already developed, urbanized areas.

Mid-Sized Cities

/'mid sīzd 'sitēs/

Canadian cities with populations ranging from 50,000 to 500,000 residents. These cities have the potential to become leaders of sustainable and inclusive city-building initiatives across Canada.


  1. The ability to move all people safely and affordably between where they live, work and play. Includes walking, cycling, the use of wheelchairs, public transit, cars and more.
  2. The ability to transport goods in an efficient and sustainable manner for the benefit of all

Regenerative City

/ri-ˈje-nə-ˌrā-tiv, ˈsi-tē/

A city designed to eliminate negative environmental impact and help restore balance with natural systems. Regenerative cities are low-carbon and rely on renewable energies, not fossil fuels.

Smart City

/'smärt 'si-tē/

A resilient, inclusive and collaboratively-built city that uses technology and data to better the quality of life for all people.

Urban Intervention

/ˈər-bən in-tər-ˈven(t)-shən/

A project that alters a city or neighbourhood to make it more enjoyable. These projects are often temporary, low-cost and run by the community.