Backgrounder: Government of Canada announces funding to help Canadian communities explore and implement smart cities approaches


The Smart Cities Community Support Program will run in parallel with the Smart Cities Challenge, providing support to communities, organizations and citizens both within and outside the context of the Challenge.

As the organization selected to deliver activities under this program, Evergreen will act as a central, third-party advisor to all communities as they explore and implement smart city approaches. It will fill gaps in the reach of existing actors in the smart city space by helping to ensure that all communities across Canada – including small and medium-sized cities, rural, remote, Indigenous, Northern and isolated communities – have access to the information and guidance they need to improve the lives of their residents.

The open callout to select a Canadian not-for-profit organization to deliver the Community Support Program was announced on June 7, 2018. Interested not-for-profits had until July 20, 2018 to submit their applications. The Application Guide contains information on the Community Support Program requirements, process, roles and responsibilities.

Evergreen will work with OpenNorth, the Future Cities Canada collaborative platform, and numerous non-profit institutions and foundations to deliver activities across Canada.

It will bring together stakeholders to share their guidance, expertise and knowledge. It will also build networks and facilitate connections between subject matter experts and communities; conduct research and build awareness of emerging smart cities issues (i.e. data ownership, cybersecurity and privacy).

Evergreen will deliver support to communities through two broad categories:

  1. One-to-one advisory and capacity services: offering communities deep and specialized support.
  2. One-to-many advisory and capacity services: offering broad capacity-building supports that encompass awareness & community engagement, building & sharing community knowledge, and matchmaking & connecting the ecosystem.

Evergreen’s plans include support activities for communities such as a Grant program to enable communities with limited resources to access information and guidance, an online Smart Cities Portal, a research network, a series of ‘100 in 1 Day’ community engagement events, and regional idea camps, in addition to conferences, events and workshops.

In the longer term, the Community Support Program will bolster a culture of change, continuous improvement and innovation across Canadian communities, and build a lasting capacity in civil society that will continue to support the objectives of the Smart Cities Challenge beyond the life of the program.

Smart Cities Challenge

In November 2017, the Government of Canada challenged communities across the country to develop bold and ambitious ideas to improve the lives of their residents using data and connected technology.

Over 200 communities, large and small, from across Canada submitted their innovative ideas to the first of three rounds of the Smart Cities Challenge. An independent panel of 13 jury members evaluated these submissions based on the criteria set out in the Applicant Guide.

Twenty finalists were selected to move on to the next step of the Challenge and compete for four prizes:  one of up to $5 million, two of up to $10 million and one of up to $50 million.

Each finalist community received a $250,000 grant to help develop its final proposal that outlines all design, planning, privacy, data protection and project management components of their plans. The grant can be used for activities such as staffing, professional services, feasibility assessments, capacity building, pilot projects, community engagement, communications, and relevant training.

Final proposals are due on March 5, 2019 and winners will be announced in spring 2019.

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