Canada launches Smart Cities Challenge

On November 23, Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities officially announced the Smart Cities Challenge. The challenge is open to all communities in Canada, including “municipalities, regional governments and Indigenous communities (First Nations, Métis and Inuit). The Challenge encourages communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology.

The Smart Cities Challenge

Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Across the country, communities large and small are bursting with new ideas. As Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, I have been privileged to meet with leaders from coast-to-coast-to-coast and hear their bold and innovative plans to improve the quality of life for their residents. Through the Smart Cities Challenge, we will help bring these ideas and plans to life, and find solutions that achieve real and positive outcomes.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also discussed the Smart Cities concept while at Google’s Go North event in Toronto. Speaking specifically to Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs plan to turn an unused “portion of Toronto’s waterfront into a new model city of the future.”

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Canadians have a tendency to travel, Trudeau said, and that results in a global outlook on how cities work and their different approaches to things like traffic and how people live in urban environments. The new waterfront project gives Canadians “amazing opportunity to innovate or leapfrog” in urban innovation, since existing cities grew organically into what they are and how they work, for better or for worse, but the new smart city area won’t “be built on the bones of past failure and past successes,” but will instead be developed from a clean slate.

13 goals for a more sustainable Canada

Canada’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy includes 13 broad goals for the country:

  • Effective action on climate change
  • Low-carbon government
  • Clean growth
  • Modern and resilient infrastructure
  • Clean energy
  • Healthy coasts and oceans
  • Pristine lakes and rivers
  • Sustainably managed lands and forests
  • Healthy wildlife populations
  • Clean drinking water
  • Sustainable food
  • Connecting Canadians with nature
  • Safe and healthy communities

So while the U.S. Federal Government strips references to climate change from Department of Energy websites and welcomes Canada’s leaky Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, Canada is actively working toward a more sustainable future for its citizens.

Coral Gables Museum Receives Grant to Expand Green City Program

Coral Gables Museum,  285 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon AV, Coral Gables, FL

The Coral Gables Museum announced that it “has received a $200,000 grant from the State of Florida’s Department of Education to expand its Green City Program and provide it at no cost to all K-12 students in Miami-Dade County.”

The Green City Program is dedicated to the practice and purpose of teaching future generations about designing communities with the principles of environmental sustainability. It introduces students to important disciplines such as architecture, landscape architecture, design, urban planning as well as historic and environmental preservation and sustainable development.

The program curriculum explores everything from what one can do at home to decrease their carbon footprint, to how to design a LEED-certified building or a green city. Students of all ages will learn about environmentally friendly design through presentations and tours. There will also be experiential learning activities that will teach students about the relationship between the built and natural environment and will further their understanding of worldwide environmental threats and how sustainable design can be a solution to those challenges.

“The future of our planet and the cultural, environmental and social vitality of our communities depend on our youth,” said Christine Rupp, Director of the Coral Gables Museum. “Thanks to this grant, the expanded Green City Program will now be a free educational program to K-12 students in Miami, giving them the tools to make important decisions about the design and livability of their communities.”

From its beginning, the Coral Gables Museum has been has been a local green leader.  Using the principle that the greenest building is often the one already built, the Coral Gables Museum restored the historic 1939 Police and Fire Station, using the building’s original materials and the new wings achieved LEED certification. Part of the museum’s mission is to provide an “educational platform for visitors and students to learn about green design and practical solutions for a more sustainable community.” Included in their upcoming events:

  • “Effects of Everglades Restoration on Sea Level Rise Resilience in Urban Miami” panel discussion
  • “Designing the Resilient City” panel discussion
  • “Socio-ecological Vulnerability and Resilience in Miami-Dade” panel discussion
  • Dr. Harold Wanless on Rising Sea Levels
  • Miami 2100: Envisioning a Resilient Second Century – Exhibit

This $200,000 grant will allow the museum to hire experts to teach classes and conduct tours around the theme of “Green Cities”. Hired by the museum:

· Carmen L. Guerrero, licensed architect, Associate Professor in Practice, and Academic Coordinator of Explorations in Architecture at University of Miami, will serve as the curriculum consultant for the Green City Program.

· Kiki Mutis, who has developed environmental education programs for Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, Citizens for a Better South Florida and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, will lead native garden design activities for elementary school students.

· David Rifkind, professor at Florida International University’s College of Architecture and the Arts, will provide personal tours of his acclaimed green home to middle and high school students.

· Jaime Correa, Associate Professor in Practice at the University of Miami, will provide tours of the current exhibit Miami 2100: Envisioning a Resilient Second Century and provide presentations to middle and high school students on designing urban solutions for climate change and sea level rise.

If you would like to register your school for the Green City Program, please contact Dianely Cabrera or Ashley Montano at (305) 603-8067 or e-mail education@coralgablesmuseum.org.