Canada’s largest city and financial capital, as well as the political capital of the Province of Ontario, Toronto is one of the world’s more successful places. But it is also challenged to maintain its edge.
It has become the nation’s most expensive city and is experiencing an immigration-driven population surge that is expected to boost its population by 50% in less than 20 years. That growth is already straining transportation systems: Toronto commuters travel longer round trips than any other commuters in the world.
The city, provincial and Federal governments are addressing these challenges with a development strategy stressing ICT, environmental sustainability and innovation. A key component is Waterfront Toronto, North America’s largest urban renewal project, which is transforming a vast brownfield zone at the edge of Lake Ontario into a new city center with 40,000 residential units, one million sq. meters of commercial space and 300 hectares of parks.
A new center for knowledge industries in North America’s third-largest knowledge economy, it will be served by a 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-premise network and integrate green technologies and practices into every aspect of its design and operations. But Waterfront Toronto is only the most ambitious of a range of programs that seek to keep the city’s edge sharp.
Five universities have evolved specialized programs in computer science and digital media as well as a graduate program that looks broadly at the power of ICT to drive economic, social and cultural change. The MaRS Discovery District, George Brown College Gaming Incubator, Center for Global eHealth Innovation and Fashion Incubator have become “factories” for generating, incubating and accelerating innovative new businesses.
From Internet access and training in public libraries to a kids@computers program that funds technology for low-income families, Toronto is working to extend the benefits of its success to every part of society. In the process, it is preparing citizens and businesses to compete and win in a global market.