As Canada adjusts to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our lives, communities are increasingly looking at connected technologies and data to transform how they deliver services to their residents. The pandemic has created new challenges for communities and has served to highlight how connected technologies and data can help.
Communities are using systems that transfer services and decision-making processes to online and connected platforms, ramping up telemedicine capacities, using devices to monitor health and safety in public spaces, and leveraging data that helps improve all these services.
The Government of Canada recognises how data and technology can improve the everyday lives of Canadians. It’s why we introduced the Smart Cities Challenge (SCC). Launched in 2017, the SCC was created to empower communities across the country to address the issues their residents face, using new partnerships and a smart cities approach. The SCC is an example of the Government of Canada’s support for inclusive innovation based on principles of openness, trust, and engagement.
The winners of the Smart Cities Challenge
In the first competition of the SCC, Canadian communities competed for four prizes — one $5-million prize, two $10-million prizes, and one $50-million prize. The winners of the first competition are making progress on four inspiring projects:
- The Town of Bridgewater is using its $5 million for a
comprehensive Energy Poverty Reduction Program which will reduce the rate of
energy poverty among Bridgewater residents.
- The collective communities of Nunavut
will use their $10 million to implement their Katinnganiq project, which will
help reduce deaths by suicide in Nunavut and increase the amount and
accessibility of peer support networks, educational resources, and creative
outlets that promote positive mental health to Nunavummiut.
- The City of Guelph and Wellington County are
using their joint $10 million to transform the regional food ecosystem to
become Canada’s first circular food economy.
- The City of Montreal, winner of the $50 million prize, is working with partners and the community to improve its citizens’ qualities of life by experimenting with innovative solutions to the challenges of access to quality food and transportation.
Last year’s SCC demonstrated how many smart, innovative, and forward-looking ideas Canadian communities have, and now, we want to give each one an opportunity to put that creative energy to work in response to this pandemic.
Canadians want to be able to work, play, and learn in safe, vibrant, and inclusive communities — and the pandemic is unleashing new possibilities for how we conceive of smart and equitable community infrastructure.
The communities within
That is why the Government of Canada launched the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI), which is directly investing $31 million in federal funds to help support bright ideas that are good for the quality of life in communities — practical things, like bike paths and space to walk safely, as well as the digital solutions that support community infrastructure responses and local recovery during these difficult times.
These are small projects that can have a big impact: new ways to share roads and sidewalks; creative adaptations to main streets, city lots, parks and playgrounds. Canadians want to be able to work, play, and learn in safe, vibrant, and inclusive communities — and the pandemic is unleashing new possibilities for how we conceive of smart and equitable community infrastructure.
That’s why we’re calling on interested, non-government, not-for-profit organizations to apply for funding under the CHCI, so they can work with communities to identify and fund solutions that can be put into place quickly to improve the lives of residents.
It’s through new and innovative funding approaches like the SCC and the CHCI that the Government of Canada is supporting communities across the country. We know the post-pandemic world will be full of new opportunities, and we want to help Canadians take advantage of them.