Canvas: Post Summit Report 

Drawn together for a purpose

Canvas: Post Summit Report

April 29, 2019

What a day. Canvas, our 2019 Summit, was not only a huge event itself, but it also marked the end of a period that saw nearly 1,200 of the best civic designers, artists and collaborators from all sectors and backgrounds set a new creative agenda for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Canvas happened at a time when media headlines are putting our most wicked challenges front and centre, and when trust in governments and traditional institutions continues to shift.

But what’s clear is that collective leadership is no longer a nice to have—it’s a need to practice.

What better opportunity then for us to hit ctrl+alt+delete, take stock of what’s changing in our region and see how to address some of our most pressing issues together. Over the next four years, you’ll see CivicAction respond to five key challenges primed for made-in-GTHA solutions: getting ready for the future of work, tackling housing affordability, preparing for extreme weather, preventing sex trafficking, and unlocking inclusive leadership.

Altogether, GTHA residents and leaders generated almost 800 ideas for action with three common threads:

Igniting industry interventions

More than ever, multi-sector approaches to address complex challenges need to be front and centre. But participants at Canvas also saw more opportunities for private sector to take a seat at the collective action table. People are increasingly looking to business to take a stand on social and economic issues and there’s never been a better or more crucial time to act. A topic like sex trafficking is a prime example because it touches so many areas—from banking to hospitality to digital and telecommunications— and needs private sector champions.

Greater good gear shift

Many participants and attendees saw a need to enact a culture shift among our residents and leaders. In a world that seems increasingly unpredictable, our solutions can’t be based in nostalgia—or what we don’t want in our backyards. For example, we need to do a better job of communicating why increasing density in some of our neighbourhoods can address housing affordability and bring benefits to long-time residents. To build resilient, supportive cities, we need to see what greater good can come from compromise and innovation.