CityInclusive in Ottawa: Partnership Building

CityInclusive just concluded a trip to Ottawa where we met with key stakeholders of the Smart Cities Challenge.

On Monday, April 23rd, we had a chance to meet His Excellency, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. We delivered a set of policy recommendations together with other Jeanne Sauvé Foundation fellows. Among them was the following call:

“The federal government must provide funding for municipal governments to create frameworks for inclusive community engagement (data collection, mapping, consultations, outreach), and enhance their capacity to engage marginalized communities at every stage of the local decision-making process”.

CityInclusive team members and other Sauvé Fellows with his Excellency Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The following day, April 24th, we had a chance to sit down with the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. We were inspired by Minister Sohi’s personal story. He came to Canada as an immigrant and served as Edmonton’s City Councillor before ascending to his current role. The Minister believes that his life story is a testimony of how engaged communities unleash the potential of their citizens. During the meeting he reiterated that, “communities that leave anyone behind are not sustainable.” We shared with the Minister the preliminary findings of our work on how small and mid-sized Canadian cities are engaging their communities as they’ve been drafting their Smart Cities Challenge submissions.  

CityInclusive team with Minister Sohi (Photo credit Daniella Barreto)

We also had an opportunity to connect with Marc Miller, Parliament Secretary of Infrastructure and Communities Canada and our Montreal representative in the Federal Parliament. The extensive and candid discussion with MP Miller explored, among other things, how to engage communities in municipal-level decision making.

The day concluded with meeting Gerard Peets, Director of the Smart Cities Challenge at Infrastructure Canada. Together with his team, he was working late into the day given April 24th was the deadline for the Smart Cities Challenge submissions. With Mr. Peets, we had the opportunity to discuss our work and also get behind-the-scenes insights into the design and implementation of the Smart Cities Challenge.  

This trip to Ottawa validated CityInclusive’s work and the need for creating and promoting inclusive community engagement practices. We forged new partnerships that will enrich our work in the future around the Canadian Smart City Challenge.