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City building: Who controls the future?

Cities and schools both grew at remarkable rates over the last sixty years. This growth produced tremendous opportunity, wealth, and change.

It also planted the seeds of future problems. How can cities move, house, and employ unprecedented numbers of people? How can universities stay relevant in the face of relentless competition and online disruption? Simple: they cooperate to create attractive, dynamic places that attract and retain people. Stantec’s Nancy MacDonald and Léo Lejeune explain.

Transcript of the video follows
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<p><b>NANCY</b>: If we start to look around the world, we’re seeing a huge shift from rural populations into urban areas, and that’s having a dramatic impact on economies.</p> <p>By the year 2030, we’re going to see well over 60 percent of the world’s population in cities, so we’ve got more and more people moving into cities.</p> <p>It’s starting to dramatically change how we live.</p> <p>Bringing in people is great.</p> <p>But it also creates challenges. We’re seeing more and more pressure on our infrastructure, we’re seeing more pressure on our park spaces and our schools, seeing more pressure on our public transit systems.</p> <p><b>LEO</b>: One of the biggest challenges that higher education institutions are facing these days is, quite simply, funding.</p> <p>After the Second World War, with the explosion of post-secondary demands, a number of institutions cropped up around North America and indeed the world.</p> <p>Now, the tide has turned, and there are a number of choices all students can make where they go for higher education. Each of these higher education institutions is looking for a way to attract those students, because they are going to be what drives the financial viability of those campuses.</p> <p>Schools that aren’t thinking about their own economic and academic sustainability will ultimately face demise, especially in very, very competitive markets for students.</p> <p>It makes sense for higher education institutions to partner with cities to solve these problems, because really they’re chasing the same thing. Campuses need housing, they need transportation, they have infrastructure, they have economic challenges, and last, they are dealing with the quality of the human experience.</p> <p>So as both public institutions and municipalities are dealing with the same needs, so too should they be looking at solving those needs together.</p> <p>Even right here in Edmonton, there are a number of great examples of how some of these partnerships with other local industry or local municipalities have paid off.</p> <p>When the University of Alberta chose to put its foot down in the heart of downtown Edmonton, with the purchase of the Hudson’s Bay Company building, not only did they develop academic space, but they developed space for small incubator companies.</p> <p>This has led to some of the great start-up companies turning in very highly profitable enterprises that have gone on and become huge success stories for the legacy of the University of Alberta.</p> <p><b>NANCY:</b>&nbsp;If you take a look at MacEwan in Edmonton, one of the things they did was move to a downtown campus. Then they started to consolidate their campuses. They’re leveraging their proximity to the arts district, to the new LRT system, to the arena district downtown.</p> <p>From the city’s perspective, the MacEwan campus was an old rail yard. So you start to see that it was a hole in the urban fabric that’s been filled and is now a very vibrant and attractive place.</p> <p>Cities and post-secondaries compete on a global stage for attraction and retention of students and people</p> <p>People move to your city for jobs generally speaking, but why do they stay? They don’t stay just because of the economics, they stay because of the experience. They stay because of the place and the things that they do.</p> <p>The public realm in a city is critical to providing that experience. So what we start to see is a real shift and a transformation that’s going to focus on quality over quantity in the public realm.</p> <p>And so it’s really big change in urban design. Looking at our streets, for example, and what we do with streets. Streets are not just a way to move cars. They’re a way for people to actually be in the street, to have an experience in the street. What does a boulevard look like? Where are the trees? What’s the paving treatment? All of these things are really important, and they’re critical to providing that qualitative piece of the experience</p> <p><b>LEO:</b>&nbsp;Why does all of this matter? Well it matters both to municipalities and public institutions in that they both are interested in long-term sustainability. They both want to know that they’re going to be here 30 and 50 years from now.</p> <p><b>NANCY:</b>&nbsp;The end result is long-term sustainability for both post-secondaries and cities.</p> <p>We all benefit from an economically successful and viable city and post-secondary institutions.</p>

By the year 2030 we are going to see well over 60% of the world's population in cities.

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