Voices of New Economies: Alex Wood

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Voices of New Economies - An Interview with Alex Wood
By Alicia Tallack

For Alex Wood, Senior Director, Policy and Markets at Sustainable Prosperity, the concept of new economies is directly aligned with that of green economies.

AlexWoodheadshotCurrently, Alex is working on the Sustainable Prosperity Framework project. Focusing on the three pillars of environment, economy, and society, the Framework is designed to create a new vision for what a sustainable, competitive Canadian economy might look like in the coming years. That vision, which will be developed with leaders from business, civil society, and academia will form the basis of a sophisticated communications effort that will engage and inspire Canadians. 

What are the key elements of "new economies"? 

The Sustainable Prosperity Framework will focus on three elements:

  1. Sustainable – When defining green or new economies, there is a tendency to emphasize new forms of economic development and new sectors that have a lighter footprint. Our take on this, is that the definition can and should be recognized in the Canadian context, but we also need to bring in the ‘brown’ (non-sustainable) models of industry in our economy, to shape their future in a way that lightens their footprint. This is about how and who you engage, and why. We find a negative reaction when we discuss sustainability in traditional sectors of our economy (especially the extractive sectors), so we need a definition that includes these sectors and defines for them the opportunity that a more sustainable and competitive economy presents.. We want to focus on building out the greenest green, and engaging the “brown” green, to see how they can all contribute to our long-term sustainability.
  1. Competitive – This tracks closely with the sustainability point, which looks at how we build an economy on the back of a growing greenest green sector. If we’re going to continue to extract resources and use our natural capital, how do we do that in a way that sets us up for long-term competitiveness? A focus on sustainability in those sectors that is driven by innovation, that improves our competitiveness globally, and create solutions that then drive sustainability is important. As they focus on their models and solutions, they become more competitive. Sustainability then makes a business case because it can be competitive.
  1. Inclusive – We wrote our green economy white paper 2 years ago, and since then, there has been an increased focus on the social dimension of the green economy in global discussions. The basic assumption is that even if you choose to green your economy, there are choices that promote better social outcomes versus other options. Social outcomes such as economic opportunity, inclusivity, and improved economic benefits for aboriginal communities are all critical. The steps that Canada takes to create a sustainable economy can’t lead to worse social outcomes. The policies and solutions in the green economy must have concern around social issues embedded in them.

How does this relate to cities?

Our framework project will have a substantial component focused on cities. There will be three likely elements to this: cities, innovation, and investment. When it comes to cities, you have a platform that allows you to integrate policies, public, and private sectors. This is a huge opportunity – cities give us a platform on which we can say look at this city, its infrastructure, transportation, natural capital, etc., and think about how you can transform this into something more sustainable. The other dimension of this, of course, is that over 80% of Canadians live in an urban setting. So engaging Canadians in a positive, affirmative, our discussion of the green economy needs to describe what that looks like in an urban setting.

What happens in cities is what will determine the course of our sustainable economy.

What is your perspective on the recently launched Ecofiscal Commission?

There is a personal thread running through Canada’s Ecofiscal Commission for me, which dates back to work that I did 10 years ago on the National Roundtable on the Environment and Economy, as the project I managed was on ecofiscal reform in Canada. I worked on that for four years, and it had some profile and success, but the Ecofiscal Commission has really taken that discussion to a completely different level. This is important, because it points out the significance of communications around this. We have known for some time the economic and environmental arguments for ecofiscal reform, but coming from “us”, it hasn’t always translated the way it is now. When it comes to shaping economic decisions, people with backgrounds like mine (coming from the environmental side with an economic background) need additional voices of support in making the economic case. So the Ecofiscal Commission is a very exciting opportunity to do just that.

What does real wealth mean to you?

The word “wealth” provokes a personal response, and makes me think about a holistic definition of wealth, not just the economic part. Most of the time, my default is to think on the macro level, and to think of what wealth is in Canada. Often, we communicate about this based on concepts that are not well grounded, and that are hard to base in personal experience. As an economist, I’ve got a set definition of what wealth is; but as a human being, I’ve got a broader definition. For me, that definition is rooted in a set of experiences and a set of values that shape our experiences and our choices all contribute to this.

Real wealth is about a more holistic definition of a well-lived life.

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Alexander Wood is one of Canada’s leading experts on the green economy.  Alex has over twenty years’ experience working at the interface of the environment and the economy, with a particular focus on the development of market-based policies that contribute to a sustainable economy.  He has worked in the non-profit (WWF), public (NRTEE), private (TD Bank Financial Group), and is now Senior Director, Policy and Markets at Sustainable Prosperity. Alex is a graduate of the University of Toronto (B.A.) and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (M.A.)

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This blog is part of the 'Voices of New Economies' series within Cities for People - an experiment in advancing the movement toward urban resilience and livability through connecting innovation networks. 

The Voices of New Economies series is collectively curated by One Earth and The Canadian CED Network.

This series is an exploration of what it takes to build the economies we need - ones that work for people, places, and the planet. We are connecting key actors, finding patterns, noting interesting differences, and highlighting key concepts and initiatives. Together, this series offers insights into the new economies movement as it develops. 

Why Cities Can (and Should) Lead the Sustainable Consumption Movement

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 From October 29 – November 1, 2014, researchers, policy experts, municipal governments, and NGO representatives from across North America gathered in the host city of Eugene, Oregon at a workshop sponsored by The Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI) and the Urban Sustainability Director’s Network (USDN).

The Role of Cities in Advancing Sustainable Consumptionworkshop was a unique opportunity to examine what action cities can take to promote sustainable consumption at the community scale. The workshop was attended by Vanessa Timmer, Bill Rees, Jennie Moore, and Rosemary Cooper on behalf of One Earth / Cities for People who also participated in early design of this workshop and are active in the follow-up documentation and working group. The workshop idea originated at the meeting of the North American Roundtable on Sustainable Production and Consumption (NARSPAC).

Further details (including the workshop agenda, list of participants, and selected presentation slides) are available here on the City of Eugene’s workshop.

SCORAI posted an overview of the workshop and links to the videos on their website here.

The recording of a follow-up webinar organized by the West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum is available here.

Videos of all the key presentations and plenary sessions can be found here.

The following article is from our friends at Shareable.net; the original can be found here.

Why Cities Can (and Should) Lead the Sustainable Consumption Movement
By Cat Johnson – originally 9 December 2014

Cities may be our best hope for making meaningful progress in the area of sustainability. Cities are where most people live, they're more nimble than national governments, and there's a more direct connection between city officials and citizens. When it comes to moving ahead with sustainable consumption, cities could be a driving force.

In October, sustainable consumption experts gathered at The Role of Cities in Advancing Sustainable Consumption workshop in Eugene, Oregon to explore this possibility. Hosted by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI), and the city of Eugene, the workshop brought together city sustainability staff, academics, and NGO representatives (including Shareable's Neal Gorenflo) from around the United States. The Eugene event was the first of its kind and an important step in starting the conversation about the role cities play in sustainable consumption.

Last week, several workshop attendees participated in a webinar discussing their takeaways from the event. Webinar panelists included Babe O'Sullivan from the City of Eugene; Maurie Cohen from SCORAI; Brenda Nations from USDN; and Terry Moore from ECONorthwest. The webinar distilled a thought-provoking event showcasing many different perspectives down to its essence. What follows is a summary of lessons learned.

What’s the Problem?
The problems caused by over-consumption include natural resource depletion, unhappiness, growing inequality, and climate change.

The starting point is this basic fact -- the growth imperative of our economic system is fundamentally at odds with our finite natural systems. We need to refocus on individual, family, and community well-being and spread the message that sustainable consumption does not mean going without. Rather, it means better quality of life for everyone. To address inequality, we need to shape the economy for more equitable access to resources.

We need to rethink government’s influence on consumption. A growing economy is seen as a healthy economy and governments support economic growth. Shifting to sustainable consumption is seen as a threat to local business.

To move forward in meaningful ways, we need more data, measurable goals, and outcomes around sustainable consumption. Cities can be, and in some areas already are, leaders in sustainability as they are able to produce on the ground results. But there is a lack of tested practice. There needs to be cross-sector research and support for local action to find effective leverage points.

Phrasing
A challenge the sustainable consumption movement faces is in the phrasing. What’s the definition of sustainable consumption? What is sustainable? What's wrong with consumption? We need to get clear with what it is we’re talking about. How will we know if it’s sustainable?

Which part of consumption are we trying to get rid of? At the workshop it was suggested that we create a one-sentence description of sustainable consumption, such as: Creating human and ecological well-being by transforming the economy so that it serves what we value.

The Role of Cities
Cities are positioned to make systemic change through policy around housing, economic development, wage and worker issues, institutional purchasing and more. They can frame sustainable consumption for a local audience, create balanced and proactive regulatory mechanisms around the sharing economy (which means not getting caught up in debates about Airbnb and Uber but seeing the bigger picture of the sharing economy as a tool to create healthy communities and environments). What’s the significance and role of the sharing economy and maker movement in sustainable consumption? Cities provide countless opportunities for grassroots sustainability and sharing initiatives.

We can conceptualize cities as metabolic systems that assimilate resources, process them in various ways, and then expel byproducts and other wastes—and create policies from that perspective. We need to look at the ecological footprint of cities. Even Vancouver, which we consider one of our most sustainable cities, is at more than twice the per capita biocapacity.

Sustainable consumption is at the heart of the challenge of city governance. City governments have long been about creating well-being for their constituents through ensuring public safety and public health. They go about these tasks under the umbrella of upholding public welfare

Some think sustainable consumption is something city governments should not be involved in, but city governments have been involved with all kinds of public well-being and regulatory activities for a long time.

Picking Up the Pace
The US is behind in the sustainability movement. In Europe, they are creating national sustainable consumption plans. In the US, developments on this front have been slow in coming. Reduced, or even different, consumption practices raise anxieties about economic growth and the maintenance of preferred lifestyles.

Beyond Tech
Sufficient progress limiting greenhouse emissions and addressing other sustainability challenges cannot be achieved on the basis of technology alone. Singular reliance on technology deployment has numerous consequences in the form of rebound effects and other unanticipated side-effects. We need to begin to consider absolute reductions in resource utilization from a system perspective focused on different consumption domains (food and food waste, energy, transportation).

An Economist’s Perspective
We tend to discount the future too much in economics. By making short run solutions we don't give enough scope to long run systems. Environmental abundance allows relief from external costs, but that’s changing. A growing population, plus growing average per capita consumption, means total consumption is going up and we have a problem.

When things get unstable, efficiency is not the greatest idea. We need to slow down and think about what obstacles are out there. Simplification and redundancy is what gives resilience, and that is not the same as efficiency.

We are not at the whim of markets. We can set the rules for markets. We can make the market serve what we value. It’s about making markets pay attention to full, long-run costs.

Facing Facts
Bringing our consumption practices into the sunlight creates difficult political obstacles. We need to put on the table what those obstacles are and not sugar coat them or sidestep them.

Sustainable consumption is one of the more important tasks that city governments should be working on. We’re not going to make significant progress if we stay on “soft” solutions such as green consumption. Most of us would acknowledge that consumption is the gorilla in the room and we have to get serious in achieving real, meaningful reduction.

Next Steps From the Workshop
Participants are creating a one-page summary tentatively called the Eugene Memo. This will be a guide for how to best frame the issues for local leaders. It will list opportunities for sustainable purchasing research, provide literature review on key drivers for city strategy, and offer research proposals such as the negative effect of regulations banning clotheslines.

Sustainability experts and officials need to create a toolkit to filter and prioritize the most important actions that would have the biggest impact; and there needs to be cross-sector work between researchers and agencies.

Big Picture Perspective
We, as consumers and business owners, take a short run perspective There’s a difference between consumption and investment and we need to start doing more investment. We also need to deal with social fairness. Normal market vaguaries make some people winners and some people losers. Under this model, the distribution of resources will become more and more unbalanced. It will create a social unrest that will manifest in a number of ways.

Flip the Script
To engage stakeholders at the local government level we need to stress the idea of well-being. It’s an effective way to educate people about the effects of their lifestyle and buying habits. It’s not about deprivation or going without, but understanding what it is to have enough. It’s important to have optimism and focus on the positive changes we want to see.

After the basics (shelter, clothing, food, water) are covered, well-being is less dependent on material goods. This needs to be a central part of the sustainable consumption movement. As Terry Moore explained during the webinar, “After the conference, I didn’t talk about sustainable consumption. Instead, I said, ‘Living my life in a way that will be better for me, my family, my community and my planet.’”

Photo credit: SCORAI

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What Bike Sharing Says About Our Cities and Our Values

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By: Michaela Kramer, Evergreen CityWorks, Intern

Bike sharing programs have gained immense popularity over the past decade. There are variations in over in 500 places around the world. Yet their presence often sparks controversy- with advocates pointing to their popularity and social value while critics object to their economic instability. Both positions speak to wider questions about what we, as a city, consider to be a public good, how new programs should be paid for, and how we can improve access to services among low income communities. The dialogue around bike sharing is important in order to improve these programs as they continue to grow, but also to explore what this global trend says about our cities more generally.

What is bike sharing?

A bike sharing program is a transportation system in which bikes are available to the public at stations around a neighborhood, or across a city, on a short-term basis. Usually these systems offer yearly or one-day subscriptions, both of which allow users 30-45 minutes of riding time between stations, with additional costs attached to rides that exceed this time limit. The systems are geared toward city residents or tourists travelling from one destination to another rather than those interested in taking leisurely cycling trips.

While the idea was originally developed in Paris, the largest system now operates in Hangzhou, China with a total of 66,500 bikes available. The first Canadian city to receive a bike sharing system was Montreal, whose BIXI program launched in 2009. This was followed by Ottawa a month later, and Toronto in 2011. In 2015, Vancouver is expected to launch a bike sharing system as well.

Bike.Share.PhotoA Hangzhou Public Bicycle station, Source: Flickr 

For most, the appeal of bike sharing stems from its ability to provide users with mobility and flexibility. Bike sharing can be added to car or transit trips to make commuting more seamless or to reach places where transit does not extend to. It allows people to cycle to their destination and then take transit back if the weather, or simply their mood, changes. And unlike owning a bike, users don’t have to worry about the initial cost of purchase, storage, maintenance expenses, or theft.

Why does it matter?

Bike.Share.Photo(3)Bike sharing programs have numerous benefits, including environmental, health, and economic effects. They are important drivers of urban sustainability, helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and traffic congestion. In Denver, 34 percent of B-Cycle members use bike sharing to replace trips otherwise taken by car. Also, bike sharing promotes healthy living by providing exercise to users, lowering their stress levels, and helping them to feel happier. 31.5 percent of Capital Bike Share members in D.C. saw their stress levels go down once they started bike sharing. They also help attract tourists, they can serve as a local employer, and boosts the business of bike-related shops.

BIXI riders in Montreal, Source: Flickr

Yet these benefits are not without costs. Bike sharing programs, alike most public transportation systems, provide the predicament of being expensive to implement and run while needing to be relatively cheap to the user, in order to ensure accessibility and to dissuade people from driving. Subscriptions, normally at a cost of $60-$100 per year or $6-$10 per day, despite their popularity, are not enough to finance the operating costs that bike sharing demands.This means that the revenues from subscriptions must be subsidized, either through tax dollars, by a local community group or nonprofit organization, a public-private partnership, or a corporation.

Is bike sharing a public good?

There are two ways of looking at bike sharing: either as a public amenity that the city has interest in maintaining but seeks private funds to run or as a public good that should be financed through city revenue due to its public value. The former was adopted in New York City when proposals for Citi Bike were endorsed as a privately funded project.

But what makes bike sharing any different than other transit systems or other public goods? Many argue that bike sharing programs are an extension of public transit and should be publically financed because of their essential value to the city. These are the questions that some New Yorkers are asking as Citi Bike endures another year of financial loss despite its overwhelming popularity among users. . Similar concerns were raised when Montreal company, BIXI, filed for bankruptcy last January.

Bike.Share.Photo(2)BIXIs outside a Montreal metro station act as an extension of transit, Source: Flickr 

Some claim that the model of financial self-sufficiency was not only overly optimistic when Citi Bike was proposed but possibly unnecessary as well. If sustainability and healthy living are goals that city governments endorse, why shouldn’t more support be given towards bike sharing systems?

This is the thinking that has been adopted in Washington D.C. where Capital Bike Share is partly funded by the United States Department of Transportation and in London where Barclay’s Cycle Hire is largely subsidized by Transport for London. In Minneapolis, Nice Ride is operated by a nonprofit with money from a federal grant and the Blue Cross. In these cities, there is an understanding that the public good generated from bike sharing systems far exceeds their financial loss.

Can bike sharing systems be improved?

Accepting that bike sharing programs are a worthwhile expenditure of tax dollars is one thing, but the work doesn’t end there. There is a major problem of inaccessibility for low income communities around the world that needs to be addressed, especially if public money is going to be funding these projects. One reason for this is that in many places bike sharing stations are clustered in the commercial centers of wealthy residential neighborhoods (usually where an abundance of transit exists anyways) with disparities in low-income areas. For example, this has been a critique of Bike Share Toronto, which barely reaches beyond the city’s central core. Another problem is that low income residents are more likely to have longer commutes that might exceed the 30-45 minute time limit of most systems.  Furthermore, bike sharing programs require users to have credit or debit cards, which restricts some people from accessing these services.

These maps illustrate the differences in accessibility between various bike sharing systems, Source: modified from Quartz 

Unfortunately, these limitations stand in the way of bike sharing being accessible to the people who could benefit from it the most. Low-income neighborhoods are usually not as well served by public transit compared to other areas, so bike sharing can be an important tool to mitigate the inadequacies of transit. The person who finds it most difficult to manage the upfront cost of purchasing a bike would benefit greatly from having a bike sharing membership. Low-income residents are more likely to spend a greater portion of their income on transportation costs so developing more transit options can work to alleviate this burden. Overall, there is a need for bike sharing networks to be designed in more accessible and inclusive ways so to benefit the city as a whole.

There are various ways of going about this, some of which have been implemented and others that have only been proposed. One strategy to expand the accessibility of bike sharing is to more evenly distribute stations in low income neighborhoods or next to strategic locations like social housing. Another method is to make memberships more affordable by offering discounted rates, payment plans, or waving the temporary insurance fee that most systems charge. In Boston, qualifying low-income residents get a $5 membership and a free helmet. Capital Bike Share in Arlington County, Virginia developed a special marketing campaign in Spanish aimed at reaching Latinos with limited English proficiency. Ultimately, one of the biggest barriers is the credit card requirement. To solve this, some have proposed that local organizations or nonprofits could recommend people they trust who do not have access to a credit or debit card.

What bike sharing teaches us

Bike sharing is not about making a profit and it’s not about providing a novel amenity. It is about leading positive change on the critical issues facing local cities today. Supporting bike sharing programs illustrate the values of a local government, prioritizing health, sustainability, and livability. It improves the environment of the city and the experiences of the people in it.

Bike.Share.Photo(5)Citi Bike riders in New York, Source: Flickr 

Hidden Gems- How Daylighting Rivers are Revitalizing Cities

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By: Michaela Kramer, Evergreen Cityworks, Intern

The saying “you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone” has come to resonate with cities around the world that are reclaiming their once abandoned natural features. While pressures of industrialization and urbanization at one time led planners to cover up natural sites in cities, many are now coming to realize the social, environmental, and economic benefits of rediscovering these hidden gems. Cities have embarked on what’s known as ‘daylighting’ wherein buried streams and rivers are exposed from beneath pavement or underground tunnels to become vibrant public spaces. The success of such projects, with cases from Yonkers, New York to Seoul, South Korea are inspiring more people to rediscover the hidden waterways in their city too.

The history of covered-up urban rivers and streams is a common one, with examples including Sunswick Creek in Queens, River Westbourne in London, the Neglinnava River in Moscow and most other places. They were usually the result of city officials reacting to flood problems, heavy pollution in streams-turned-sewers, or the demand for more space to accommodate urban sprawl. Once covered with pavement or channeled into tunnels, rivers and streams were soon forgotten, with new generations having no idea about their existence right under their feet.

Yet there has been a renewed interest in the streams secretly flowing beneath freeways and parking lots. Urban explorer and photographer Steve Duncan has found his way into many of these sites and in Toronto, local environmental organization host tours of what they call The Lost Rivers. But it’s not just adventurous urbanites that have become fascinated, city governments and planners are coming to rethink the city’s initial position on these environmental treasures.

CheonggyecheonSource: LAF, Inhabitat

This was the case in Seoul where the Cheonggyecheon River was paved over and replaced with the 1970s Cheonggyecheon Freeway, then considered a symbol a modernism and engineering achievement. As the highway infrastructure began to crumble 40 years later, the city decided against reinvesting in outdated infrastructure that prioritizes cars, and instead worked to reintroduce the river to the city as a public space. Two years, and $348 million dollars later, the five-kilometer daylighted river acts as a centerpiece of the city, attracting 500,000 visitors each week.

Saw.MillSource: Steve Duncan, Flickr

Other more modest examples belong to Arcadia Creek in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Broad Branch Stream in D.C. In 2010, Yonkers in New York State restored the Saw Mill River, which had been paved over in the 1920s due to sanitation and flood problems.  Today, the exposed river acts as a successful new space for people and wildlife, a highlight of the city’s ongoing revitalization project.

Beyond the role these serve in introducing natural spaces to the public, daylighting projects boasts impressive environmental and economic benefits as well. Exposed streams and rivers absorb storm water runoff much better than underground pipes, not to mention the money this saves cities from having to repair old pipes that are being overused during storms. This is especially important considering the heavier-than-ever downpours being experienced in many places due to the onset of climate change.

Moreover, rivers and streams are important places of biodiversity: they help to improve water quality and mitigate heat island effect. The Cheeonggyecheon River in Seoul has seen the rise of fish species from 4 to 25, bird species from 6 to 36, insect species from 15 to 192, and plant species from 62 to 308. Also, the average summer temperature in the area has dropped by 5 degrees. Daylightng serves to boost local economies, attracting tourists and investment in nearby areas. For instance, Cheeonggyecheon increased property prices within 50 meters by 30-50% and earns millions in tourist spending.

Overall, these cases bring to light (pun intended) an ideological shift in cities where people are coming to value environmental assets over unchecked sprawl. This is the same line of thinking that has lead many places to reconnect with their waterfronts or remediate polluted wetlands. Nature is no longer seen as an obstacle but instead as something to celebrate, benefitting the city in various ways.

Source: WordPress

 

100 Ways to Make Ideas Seem Possible

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Why We Should Care About Zoning

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By: Jesse Darling, Evergreen CityWorks, Urban Project Designer

Canadians cities have been shaped by numerous influences. Natural assets such as waterfronts, canals and mountain ranges have always, and will continue, to play a role in molding the urban fabric. Infrastructure such as ports and railways opened up the door to economic development. But above all, zoning and land development has shaped the built form and morphology of Canadian cities.

While the patterns of land development vary throughout Canada, one unifying theme exists: planning has always been altruistic. Planning is an endless pursuit to preserve public good. The desire to improve economic prosperity, the health and quality of life of all city residents are the pillars of city building.

Planning emerged as a profession to combat urban challenges such as the quality of housing, congestion, urban design and zoning. Almost a hundred years later, these issues still resonate in city building conversations. Affordable housing, congestion and public space are the forefront of debate in municipalities across Canada.

Despite its profound role in shaping not only the physicality of a city, but also its character, zoning evades public interest. Zoning is an omnipresent force that holds political, economic, environmental and design-related implications. It is important for city residents to understand the power and influence zoning has on a wide range of municipal issues.

In the 19th century, zoning was predominately used as a tool to protect the economic interests of landowners. Consequently, comprehensive zoning was enforced to ensure neighbourhood stability and to protect land value from the threat of undesirable development. This resulted in entire parcels of land, whether vacant or pursuing development, to become pre-zoned. Cities remain constrained by these zones today. But, why does this matter?

While the intention of zoning is to take public safety, environmental preservation, community aesthetics and economic development into consideration, most of the time, zoning limits the potential of a place. One of the best examples of this is within Toronto's inner suburbs. Despite being neighbourhoods with high density and diversity, zoning bylaws have prohibited tower block apartment buildings from having farmer's markets, public health services or day care on site. These archaic laws have stunted the growth and potential of these communities.

Mixed-use development is an integral part to building sustainable, vibrant neighborhoods. Having healthy food options, public transit, parks and community centres within walking distance of residential areas are essential for the economic, environmental and social longevity of Canadian cities. While some cities have taken prudent steps to reform restrictive zoning, there is more work to be done.

By allowing different types of zoning to work simultaneously, it encourages strong development around transit routes, reduces reliance on the personal automobile and maintains the vibrancy and safety of communities. Strategic zoning can act as a source of municipal innovation and serve as a mechanism to introduce novel planning ideas to the city landscape. The challenges of our urban regions are interrelated and complex. Creating flexibility in the laws that determine their built form and character will create more creative, interesting and meaningful places.

CityScapes: The Natural & Built Environment

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With more than 80 percent of Canadians living in cities, the need for resilient and livable cities has never been greater. Our economic, social and environmental success depends on the quality of life provided by cities.

And yet, our cities face unprecedented challenges- from aging infrastructure and increased traffic congestion to inefficient energy systems to urban sprawl. Our cities need to work better.

Innovation is a key driver of our prosperity, but our urban centres seem to struggle to find ways of encouraging and adopting innovation. Nowhere is this more evident than in our built and natural environments- our parks, public transit, energy and housing.

Smart planning, innovation, experimentation and investment will be a determining factor in the resiliency of our urban centres. We cannot build the next 100 years of infrastructure using the concepts and methods of the past 100 years.

CityScapes will be a platform for driving innovation that tackles our critical infrastructure issues and advances our economic, social and environmental prosperity. It will bring together the public, innovators and decision makers to accelerate the shift to more livable and resilient infrastructure in cities across Canada and beyond.

Transformative change can happen when Canadians are engaged with new ideas, in ways that are relevant to them.

100in1Day

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100 in 1 Day banner

What if hundreds of people united, each putting in place the changes they wish to see in their city, all on the same day?

100in1Day is a citizen-driven festival that unites people across the city by engaging them in a common city-wide project to transform their community—raising awareness of urban and social issues, inspiring new ideas and solutions, and motivating leaders to consider new approaches to old problems.

100in1Day began as an idea and quickly became a global movement. Launching in 2012 in Bogota, Colombia with 250 urban interventions and over 3000 participants, it has since inspired citizen-driven transformative change in 15 cities around the world. On June 7, residents in Toronto, Vancouver and Halifax will join the movement and re-imagine how they live, work and play in their city.

What is an intervention?

An urban intervention is a one-day community-based project, led by an individual, group of like-minded residents and neighbours, or an organization. These projects, be they whimsical and fun or advocating for social justice and change, are a simple, low-cost way for people to showcase their ideas for a better city. Not only do they transform the city, they inspire and engage participants and onlookers alike—fostering a strong sense of community and positive change.

How do I get involved?

You can volunteer to help co-create the event, or visit 100in1day.ca!

You can also check out this great video by Legato Productions highlighting Montreal’s 100in1Day event: 100in1Day Montreal