We Are Cities was a campaign that engaged Canadians across the country, asking them to imagine the cities they want for the 21st century.
Canada’s prosperity and quality of life is directly tied to the health of our cities — where 85% of Canadians live. Our cities have long faced pressure to respond to complex and growing challenges. This is why we launched We Are Cities. The outcomes of We Are Cities are shaping the future of our projects as we looked to build flourishing cities where all can live, work and thrive.
We Are Cities was a campaign that engaged Canadians across the country from 2015-2016, asking them to imagine the cities they want for the 21st century. A joint initiative between Evergreen and Cities for People, We Are Cities set out with the idea that our national and provincial policies should be reflective of the needs and interests of cities.
We Are Cities aimed to reveal new insights into the challenges we face and identify a path forward for cities to achieve resilience, prosperity and inclusivity. We Are Cities sought to engage Canadians in the co-creation of a policy action agenda for our cities.
This agenda would determine a path forward for cities to achieve resilience, prosperity and inclusivity. We planned to use feedback from citizens in this engagement process to determine the future of our cities, an agenda for urban innovation.
2,500+ participants from all over the country took action through 75 roundtables across 35 cities that sparked 2,000+ ideas.
In the end, we came out of this project with the We Are Cities Action Agenda, a collective expression of the kinds of cities we, as Canadians, want. The Agenda was built with the intention to inspire and catalyze action—locally and nationally—building on efforts already underway across the country. It identified five opportunities for our cities:
Prosper: The Equitable Community
Establish a national strategy to increase equity that supports local efforts and strengthens political, social and economic rights. Connecting local strategies to a national endeavour that supports action on poverty reduction is essential to addressing the root causes of inequity, and improving access to the means to live a good, healthy and happy life.
Leverage: The Civic Commons
Reimagine Canada’s civic commons in order to leverage underutilized assets and strengthen city resilience. Connecting a city’s system of civic assets provides a platform through which to deliver a broad range of benefits to cities and their residents.
Measure: The Informed City
Make data open and accessible to enable better decision-making and innovation. With improved access to data and a better understanding of how to apply this information, decision-making at all levels of government would be better informed and grounded in evidence.
Connect: An Urban Aboriginal Coalition
Establish national representation of urban Indigenous communities through an Urban Aboriginal Coalition. First Nations, Métis and Inuit operate successfully within their own cultural protocols but often lack a common table for the discussion and sharing of knowledge concerning urban Indigenous issues. A coalition could establish a collective voice and platform for these communities in influencing decisions both locally and nationally.
Adapt: Future Proof Cities
Develop a path forward to mitigate and adapt to changes in our climate. In order to mitigate and plan for the effects of climate change we need to develop a national climate change action plan. By working together, a Canadian climate change action plan will make cities more resilient and reaffirm Canada’s commitment to achieving global environmental targets.