CityStudio Montreal: inspiring creativity and innovation to solve urban challenges

The CityStudio project

Almost 50 people attended the CityStudio Vancouver conference on February 19, 2019, in the Young Project Transitional Laboratory. The public was able to hear testimonials from Janet Moore, professor, strategist and chair of the board, and Duane Elverum, managing director, both of whom are co-founders of CityStudio Vancouver.

The CityStudio conference at the Young Project

Wanting to answer students’ questions about the possibility of “making a living while saving the planet”, this concept, created in 2011, was born from the desire to use the imagination and energy of university students in the service of cities. By building a strong and trusting relationship between municipal employees, citizens and students, the project aims to inspire actions needed to solve urban issues by creating more resilient, inclusive, sustainable and healthy cities.

A proven concept

At the conference, the project’s founders shared concrete examples of solutions that emerged from this collaboration between the university community and government bodies, such as:

  • Parklets, street parking spaces transformed into urban gardens and public spaces for people to relax.
  • TeaTalk, a mobile tea-serving cart that creates a space for conversation and social connection, all while sharing of a free cup of tea. 
  • The production of animated films to promote the 529 Garage service, in collaboration with the Vancouver Police Department, to encourage the use of bicycles and their registration, making them easier to find it in case of theft.
  • The creation of the Hey Neighbour! concierge service, which encourages the residents of large buildings to meet and organize parties and events, in order to break through social isolation.

In short, CityStudio participants are asked to design and implement concrete solutions to current urban issues while developing their skills in innovation, design, public participation, partner mobilization, governance, project management and much more.

The results are conclusive: 87% of participants feel more connected to their city and see new opportunities for improvement, and up to 91% of participants feel that Vancouver is more livable in a sustainable way.

With these results, the project has become a true centre of training in just eight years. The project is being replicated in a number of cities across Canada and has seen international growth all the way to Australia. In total, 674 projects have been initiated since the creation of CityStudio and its international satellites and more than 5,000 students from 194 universities have participated.

CityStudio from Vancouver to Montreal

The success of CityStudio is attracting the interest of more and more actors in Québec. Montréal is also the next city on the radar for the program. Still in the implementation phase, the CityStudio Montréal initiative is coordinated by the Espaces temps organization, in partnership with the Maison de l’innovation sociale and Concordia University.

Duane Elverum et Janet Moore (CityStudio Vancouver),
Raphaëlle Bilodeau (CitéStudio Montréal) et
Vincent Chapdelaine (Espaces Temps)

The founding team of CityStudio Montréal was inspired by the Vancouver model and adapted it to the context of Montréal while keeping a common vision: that of a metropolis where all sectors work together to create a city that’s a good place to live, work and learn.

The MIS, with the support of the Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation, is committed to providing support to launch the initiative by facilitating exchanges between civil society and municipal authorities, by linking the initiative with activities of the innovation studios of its Future Cities program and by giving access to resources such as consultation, support for scaling-up projects, networking with other programs and a workspace at the Young Project for the prototype phase of the project.

This is another great project aimed at fostering the emergence of social innovations and the democratization of approaches that are an inherent part of their design. Stay tuned in coming months!

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