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Addressing Civic Literacy at Quayside: The First Civic Lab

Dec 12, 2018

By: Stephanie Chow

Why create the Civic Labs?

Over the past year, Waterfront Toronto, along with our Innovation and Funding Partner Sidewalk Labs, have been convening public discussions on a variety of familiar topics that are helping to shape the direction of the planning for the Quayside project, such as public realm, mobility, and buildings. As the revitalization lead and public steward of the waterfront, Waterfront Toronto recognizes that the success of the Quayside project, also referred to as the Sidewalk Toronto project, depends on the support of the public and our governments; support that results from an understanding of the issues and objectives, and from frequent and informed discussion. 

The next step of Waterfront Toronto's public engagement was to convene conversations on topics that are newer and less familiar to many - topics that break new ground in public policy, such as public digital infrastructure, data collection and ownership, cyber ethics, privacy and intellectual property. The degree of civic literacy on these topics varies widely, as do public opinions on them. To move forward with planning for Quayside, we know that the work will require a greater understanding of these issues and policies, not only for Toronto residents, but also for elected officials at all three levels of government that Waterfront Toronto serves.

To help address and increase a common understanding of these issues, Waterfront Toronto and its Digital Strategy Advisory Panel (DSAP) began a series of Civic Lab discussions. These discussions will feed into the work of the DSAP, as well as the broader public consultations for the project.

CIVIC LAB 1: Digital Governance

On November 23, 2018, Waterfront Toronto hosted the first Civic Lab discussion: a three-hour seminar at the Globe and Mail Centre.  The topic of the first meeting was Digital Governance, and subject matter experts and advocates sat with Waterfront Toronto and leaders from government to discuss public policy issues. This is only the beginning of conversations that will ultimately help ensure that decision related to the digital future of Quayside include a solid understanding of the current policy landscape for digitally enabled city building.

To learn more about the discussion and outcomes from the first meeting, you can read the Meeting Summary here.

You can also watch the full meeting online on the Waterfront Toronto Facebook and YouTube pages.

To assist with the civic literacy and support a meaningful public discussion about the potential digital future of Quayside, we have created a series of Info Sheets that are now available on our website.

  • Info Sheet 1 explains the ways and places that tech can influence a city: PDF
  • Info Sheet 2 focuses on digital laws and regulations: PDF
  • Info Sheet 3 looks at data collection and use: PDF

The next Civic Lab will be in early 2019. The first meeting was a dedicated invite only consultation, but we plan to have broader consultations on these topics that will be open to public participation in the near future.

For more information on the project, please visit the Quayside project page or send your questions to CivicLabs@waterfrontoronto.ca.


post contributor

  • Stephanie Chow

    Stephanie Chow was previously the communications and public engagement coordinator for the Quayside project.