Media Releases

U of T Cities Podcast Ep. 4 Future Cities

October 27, 2014

Featuring Richard Florida, Patricia McCarney, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer and Meric Gertler

This final election-focused episode features U of T experts Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, Richard Florida, Patricia McCarney and Meric Gertler, as they envision cities of the future through literature, scholarship and more. Full story and more at .

Earlier episodes in the series looked at the future of traffic, transit and sustainable cities through research and entrepreneurship coming to life at the University of Toronto.




[Sting: This is the U of T Cities podcast. Brought to you by the University of Toronto]


(Music up)


Let’s start with a photograph. A gleaming lake. A scattering of buildings. And, at the centre, a dome, and a pointy tower shooting straight up from it, dwarfing everything below.


People the world over recognize the iconic shapes of the Toronto skyline. But how much longer will Toronto’s skyline look like this? And does that skyline even describe Toronto anymore, anyway? When you live here, when you come here, this two-dimensional cut-out transforms. But into what?


This is the U of T Cities podcast, I’m Brianna Goldberg.


Earlier in this series we met U of T researchers and entrepreneurs building the future of traffic, transit and sustainable cities.


They told us about new types of vehicles, new types of economies, new dreams of transit  as they push at the edge of issues polarizing this election’s candidates.


And now, as voting results roll in, we’re in the midst of a new era for the city.


So in the final episode of this election-focused miniseries, we’re going to think bigger, go farther, be wilder as we talk with U of T thought leaders who can already see the future of Toronto. They’ll give us a view – or a sketch, anyway – of the changing nature of cities in our world.


Later in the podcast we’ll check in with Richard Florida. Director at U of T’s Martin Prosperity Institute and senior editor at The Atlantic magazine. The concept of the ‘creative class’– where innovative engineers artists, and designers drive change in economies? That was his idea.


And today, he’ll explain how new class divisions in places like Toronto are remaking the structure of cities worldwide – and for decades to come.


We’ll also hear from Patricia McCarney. She’s a political science professor and director of the Global Cities Institute at U of T. And she’ll describe a new project making it possible for cities to measure against each other – for the first time ever – when it comes to data on air pollution, water cleanliness and more. It’s a huge undertaking, setting standards for cities – but it’s handing urban centres the power to make global change.


Also ahead, Meric Gertler – U of T’s president and an expert in the geography of innovation. He’ll explain why Toronto needs this university, and vice versa, and why you’ll see both the city and the university  taking a bold, global lead both now and in the decades ahead.


But first, let’s turn the page on the story of Toronto.




So far in this series we’ve talked to geographers and engineers and political scientists and architects. But it’s the artists who document the drama, the friction of changing cities, in ways that get remembered.


[Kathryn intro]


Kuitenbrouwer is a best-selling author – and both a PhD student and sometime creative writing instructor here at U of T. Her latest book, All the Broken Things, is about a boy who wrestles bears… even though the story is set in typically bear-free Toronto.


I was imagining it actually out of town and I was thinking I would write this novel set in Grimsby or somewhere in the country outside of Toronto. And I was kind of gathering information and one of the things that I do when I research is I watch movies and there are a few movies about bears that was at the Local Junction Video Store which doesn’t exist anymore, on Jane Street. And I was standing in line with the video in my hands and this man said “oh, what’s that?” I showed it to him and he said “you know what’s really interesting about it is that I used to bear-wrestle.” And I immediately knew that the story was set in The Junction because I thought, oh, it’s a city story and somehow this bear cub that the boy was wrestling moved from this country place, this like farm, to this back porch in this little ramshackle cottagey kind of house in The Junction.


The Junction. It’s the area north of High Park. It used to be called working class. But as the city grows out, it’s gentrifying at hyper-speed.


Kuitenbrouwer’s story, about bear-wrestling and ethnic tensions in the neighbourhood – plus some much darker bits of Ontario history – bucks the idea of a simply urban Toronto. It talks about a city where nature and urban spaces combine. Where ‘the city’ is so much more than just ‘the downtown core.’


We’ve heard about the idea of a hybrid city again and again through this miniseries – when it comes to the future of transit planning and vehicles on the roads.


But of course it’s happening in the stories we tell, too – gone are the tales of parochial old Toronto the Good. Kuitenbrouwer and other authors at U of T are bringing our future city to life in stories reflecting a city as wild as it is, as wild as it can be.


(music out)


I grew up in the country outside of Ottawa and I’ve always had an affinity for animals and so the first stories that I started to write about Toronto, these animals were seeping in. And I mean of course because The Junction is bordered on the south by High Park, this massive green space in Toronto, and bordered on the west by the Humber River and all the parkways that run through there. And on the north, even though it’s not really nominally a green space, the rail line which is kind of a conduit for animals too, there are constantly animals in the neighbourhood. When we first moved to the High Park area I fell asleep to cricket sounds, which is something that I hadn’t experienced at all when I had lived closer to downtown. And I’ve seen foxes running up Clendennen and I’ve seen deer on the Humber, and I’ve seen coyotes. I’m waiting to see an actual bear but people keep saying they haven’t actually spotted a bear but they feel as if they might when they walk in High Park now that they’ve read my book. The animals were already kind of in the space and I leveraged them, so they already were there. In a way, we say encroachment, and it’s us of course encroaching on their territory. We’ve pushed back the city, we’ve built suburbs and we’ve taken over their habitat and so they don’t have anywhere to go but kind of come back this way. I love the fact that they’re coming back into the city and I want desperately for the city to not only acknowledge but honour the fact that these animals can live here and in the sort or survival way of can-lit to kind of not be as scared of what is considered wild, you know the northern vision of man against nature, which always struck me even as a young person as absurd. Because of course we are actually a bit nature, you know we are part of it, we’re not separate from it. One of the earlier stories, a story that was published in Granata has this scenario where a young woman and a young man are in a relationship, and the man loves the woman for in excess of the way that she feels about him. And the more he loves her the more ambivalent she is. And the more ambivalent she is the more stray feral dogs follow her and they’re menacing the situation all the time. I stole those dogs from Russia and I stole them precisely because I wanted to bring elements of the end of the Cold War into what seems to me a global space Toronto could be, a kind of global space. So when the Cold War ended, a lot of Russian families couldn’t afford to keep pets anymore and so they just let their dogs out on the street and these dogs have obviously reproduced, and they’ve formed packs and they’ve figured out how to use the subway system. There are these amazing YouTube videos, if people are interested they should look them up, of dogs listening for the subway driver announcing the stop, and they just like become alert when their stop is called, and they get up and they trot out because they know, for instance, that there may be a baker there who’s willing to give them a loaf of bread. Or there might be a butcher who will throw a bone at them. So I just wanted to kind of collide Russia right into Toronto. I hope more people write about Toronto, because in a sense the more writers embody the space the  more it becomes whatever it happens to be. And I think that a space is both there, but it’s also a space in which we have fantasy and a space in which we have experiences that are only possible in literature.


(music in)


That was Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer. She’s an author, an English lit PhD student and has taught more than 40 creative writing courses as part of continuing studies at U of T.


Her latest book is called All the Broken Things, it’s published by Random House Canada. Learn more at


Speaking of High Park and green space, the news site is where you can also learn about the university’s work in urban forestry, U of T’s sustainability office, and find a whole podcast episode about building sustainable cities.


Later in this episode, we’ll get a phone message from U of T’s President Meric Gertler – live from Brazil.


Also coming up, Patricia McCarney explains how her work developing city data standards for things like air pollution – and, possibly, bear populations.


But first, with neighbourhoods like the Junction gentrifying – where will Toronto’s working class go? We’ll hear more about exactly who will live where in the city of the future.




Richard Florida is… everywhere. He’s a prolific author – you’ve seen his work in the New York Times, The Atlantic magazine and City Lab, the Globe and Mail and more. His thinking on social and economic theory resulted, among other things, in a wildly popular book called The Rise of the Creative Class. You’ll often see him on TV offering insights into the growth and change of urban spaces. But above all he is a lover of cities. Both the real, physical spaces – and the ideas behind them.


Florida directs U of T’s Martin Prosperity Institute. That’s where he and some colleagues crunched the numbers to arrive at a new vision for cities as class continues to drive massive change.


[Music out]


What we’re finding is that our cities in metropolitan areas are increasingly divided, not only by income, but by the kinds of work we do, by socioeconomic class. And those divides are taking shape around three or four things. The affluent knowledge workers tend to be the ones that are moving back to the center of the city. We’re colonizing the most economically functional, densest neighbourhoods close to work. And oftentimes the areas that used to be factory buildings or office buildings are now turned into residences, lofts and condo towers for these people. They’re colonizing the areas around knowledge institutions like the University of Toronto. A house in a place like The Annex used to be the equivalent…three or four families…now one rich family comes in and buys that and turns it into a three or four or five thousand…in New York now we’re seeing people taking over large buildings, factory buildings, and former apartment buildings, and turning them into 10,000 plus square foot homes with garages for their cars. You’d have to be some unfathomably wealthy to do that. And then along anything that looks like a vibrant waterfront. Any great waterfront in any great city, whether that’s Los Angeles or Miami, a city that had quite endemic poverty, but along that bay-front and oceanfront, come these gleaming towers of advantage. And what’s happening of course is the working class has almost disappeared. Quite tragically. My dad was a factory worker in Newark, New Jersey, in the great Ironbound section. Quite tragically these working class neighbourhoods have near completely disappeared. And not just from Toronto’s waterfront and from Toronto’s industrial neighbourhoods, from the Port Lands and the Don Lands and all this, in every city we’ve looked at. Boston which once had a great working class. Detroit. And then these service groups, these low income groups are being pushed further and further out into the suburbs. And then to just make this in the most pointed way I can, we’re no longer seeing a city where the urban core is poor and the suburbs are advantaged and rich. Nor do we see necessarily, what some people call a great inversion, where all the rich people move back to the city and poverty shifts to the suburbs. What we’re seeing, we call it a patchwork or a quilt, of concentrated advantaged next door to concentrated disadvantaged, and where the urban and suburban blur. And our new metropolis is one of fractals, of fractures, of advantaged and disadvantaged living side-by-side. And that’s quite tragic because just as the good middle-class factory jobs have been taken out of our economy and labour market, so have those good middle class neighbourhoods that so many people, like my very own parents, aspired to. They are fading as well.


Brianna Goldberg: So we’re talking about patchworks, we’re talking about blurring. I don’t know how far you can see into the future, but what are global cities going to look like?


Richard Florida: Look, we’re going to put billions more people around the world in cities. We have 3½ billion people in cities now. Some estimates are saying we’ll end up as world population increases to its peak, say out to 2100 or 2150, and the rate of urbanization which is about half of us today, goes out to about 75% or 80% or 90%, seven, eight, nine billion more people in cities. So just think about that. And most of those are not going to be coming to Toronto, although Toronto is going to grow nicely, or New York or London. They’re going to be populating the newly-built or rapidly expanding cities of the emerging world, I think, according to one estimate that’s pretty good, probably put 7 or 8 billion people in those cities in the newly emerging world, developing world, and less than 1 billion in the cities in the advanced world. A century ago who could’ve imagined a city of 5 million people. New York, when you took Brooklyn and Manhattan and put them together, there were less than 2 million roughly at the turn of the 20th century. Never mind a city of 10 or 20 or now 30 million people. I think the Tokyo metropolis is 35 million, New York is 25 million, Mexico City is a little bigger than that. Places in India are even larger. And then not just cities, but we call them the mega-regions. A good example of that is the area that stretches from Boston to New York to Washington, which is now 50 million people and 2 trillion dollars in economic output. The Shanghai-Beijing Corridor…now we’re going to probably be looking at places that are concentrated urban spheres that are 100 million people. So are cities are going to grow much bigger, they’re going to grow much taller, they’re going to grow much denser. And taking this back to Toronto, this is the gran challenge Toronto faces. Toronto is now a metropolitan area of say 5½ to 6 million people, depending on how you calibrate that. When you look around the world, as a metropolitan area hits that threshold of 5½ to 6 and certainly 8 to 10 million people, they just stop growing. The reason they stop growing is this old car dependence sprawling model, go and build cheap stuff, cheap infrastructure, cheap houses, cheap roads, and expand to the periphery. It just stops working. As anyone in Toronto knows, the place is captured by gridlock. You can’t get anywhere. Road rage in on the rise. The war on the car, the war on the bike. A place like Toronto, if it wants to be a global city, and obviously we now have more than half our people coming here from foreign countries so we are a global city, it has to rethink its growth model. And the reason New York City could grow to 8 million or 9 million people, and the reason the metropolitan area could grow to 20 or 25 million is because of a massive investment in transit, an extensive subway system, an extensive rail system, an extensive network of transit. It’s easier for me to get to La Guardia or Newark Airport from Lower Manhattan than it is for me to get to Porter Airport or Pearson Airport from the University of Toronto. That’s terrifying. So we really have to grow differently and I think that’s what’s so vexing about this election. When I look at this election I see it as a fight between a Toronto that wants to continue to sprawl and a Toronto that wants to grow in a different way. And unfortunately, I think the appeal of this older way of life, the appeal of the suburban home and the private car, especially to new Canadians who are coming here for opportunity, they want a stake in a new country, they want to follow the Canadian dream, they want their piece of the pie, what people don’t realize is you can’t give that anymore. My dad, in the 1950s after he came back from World War Two and worked in that factory, he moved outside of Newark, New Jersey to this place called North Arlington, quite close by. They had a Chevrolet Impala, they had a small modest little cape cod house. Boy, he felt like he’d achieved the American dream. But you can’t get that anymore. We have to have a new dream which is much more urban and people living differently. And I think for us, that means that transit, investing in transit, beginning to really increase our density, understanding that we can’t just continue to sprawl, are the key features. And I think that’s what the debate is. When I look at Tory versus Ford versus Chow, that’s really the dimensions of that debate today.


[Music in]


That was Richard Florida, director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at U of T. To learn more, head to


This idea that Florida brings up about the rise of transit – it’s something very much on the minds of urban theorists at the Global Cities conference that just wrapped up in Sao Paulo, Brazil.


U of T’s president and chief cities expert was there – and wanted you to feel like you were, too. So he called in with the latest news on transportation policy.


This is Meric Gerter and I’m in Sao Paulo, Brazil where I’m participating in a Global Cities conference organized by the Faculty at U of T, together with their colleagues at the University of Sao Paulo. We’re here to identify important research projects to be undertaken by faculty and students at our two universities. And we’re focusing our discussion on 4 themes. The university and its relationship to the city, urban infrastructure, resilience and sustainability, healthy cities, and the social and economic challenges of global cities. The discussions have been very stimulating and productive. In fact this morning I learned something fascinating listening to the presentation by one of our colleagues at the University of Sao Paulo. He talked about the widespread demonstrations in the city in the summer of 2013, following an announcement by the city government that they were planning to increase transit fares by the equivalent of ten cents a ride. In response to the widespread unrest, the city decided to change its course of action, and instead to double-down on alternative transportation modes. In particular cycling. So the city of Sao Paulo currently has something like 154 kilometres of new bicycle lanes, and that includes over 60 kilometres that they built in the last year alone. Moreover, their plans are to reach a total of 400 kilometres of cycling lanes throughout the city by 2015. There seems to be widespread support for this initiative across the city where cycling is clearly now cool. So perhaps Toronto can learn something from Sao Paulo’s experience as it thinks about how to respond to its own transportation challenges.



That was Meric Gertler, president of the University of Toronto. We’ll hear more from him later in the podcast.


But first, if you want to get better, you have to measure up. Setting benchmarks to build cities of the future, with Patricia McCarney…




It seems like something that should have already existed: a tool for a city like Toronto to look at a similar city, like Chicago, and say, “What are they doing better than us? And how can we learn from them?” Comparison. It’s a simple way to build more liveable cities.


But there hasn’t been a way to accurately compare data from one city to another. Until now.


I’m Patricia McCarney and I’m a Professor of Political Science but I’m trained as a Planner teaching in Political Science about the cities. I’m also the Director of the Global Cities Institute here at the University of Toronto and in addition to that I’m now the President and CEO of something called the World Council on City Data.


McCarney and her team at U of T’s Global Cities Institute brought together data from a wide range of countries. And with help from cities, industry, academics and others, they built a first-of-its-kind system to compare city data… and to set international standards on it.


International standards. You know, like the kind on your oven or your smartphone…Sounds a bit… dry. But in this case, it’s downright political. These standards will be the fuel for evidence-informed debate as citizens and policy makers fight for smarter cities and smarter change.


[music out]


Most data is built by national institutions, national government, national statistics agencies, but it’s not built by cities in a comparative framework that cities can talk to each other. So that’s why borders matter, that’s why Toronto can’t talk to Chicago because the National Statistic Agencies measure cities and measure things differently in cities. So we started back in 2007/2008, to try and think about how to build this. We started with 9 pilot cities across Latin America, the U.S. and Canada. Toronto being one of them, Montreal and Vancouver being the other two. Also Bogotá, Sao Paulo, King County which is Seattle. A number of cities. And we asked the question what indicators are you already gathering in your city? And we thought there would be quite a bit of data in cities but we weren’t sure. It turned out cities gather tremendous amount of data. And they gather it on exactly the same things. So they gather it on transit, they gather it on water, waste management, education, health, safety, all the usual delivery of services that City Managers and Mayors care about. It turned out that the 9 cities were gathering hundreds of indicators each on all the same things. 1,100 indicators were put on the table when we convened the meeting. It was here at Metro Hall with Mayor Miller at the time. The 9 cities came together, put all of their indicators on the table. There were 1,100 of them across 9 cities, but there were only 2 that were comparable. So we decided it was time to crack that. We wanted to solve this. You know, how are we doing on emergency response time, how are we doing on hospital beds per hundred thousand relative to our peers. And Mayors increasingly are asking that question. So we started to build definitions, methodologies, numerator, denominator, evening it all out and standardizing the measures. Flash forward 6 years. From our 9 pilots back then we rewrote 100 indicators methodologies definitions. What is a police officer right down to Particulate Matter in the air – ‘PM 10 measurements. We ended up with 255 cities reporting our standardized set of indicators. 255 cities across 82 countries with Toronto as the hub for this incredible network of cities. That’s what we’ve built inside the Global Cities Institute here at the University. We decided 2½ years ago now, to actually go to the International Organization for Standardization. It’s based out of Geneva. It standardizes light bulbs and all the parts of your cellphone and tractors and car parts, and is very technical. And said we have a standard for city indicators, that cities can actually have an even set of measures. They didn’t quite understand the importance of it, I would say. That’s a polite way of saying we came home with nothing to show for it. They just weren’t interested in city indicators. But a few months later we had a call from Geneva to say that in fact the Japanese National Standards body had also stepped-up and said we’d like to standardize metrics around infrastructure for cities. Then the French were also asking for management systems. So they said here’s Canada asking for a standard on city indicators, the Japanese and the French, let’s put you together. And we have been working for 2 years and we have now the first ISO Standard ever on cities. We were very fast-tracked. It should take 6 years to build an ISO Standard. It took us 2. And that’s because we’ve been here at U of T building this. We’ve been building it for 6 years. We had 255 cities testing it. So it’s built by cities and it’s built for cities based on their priorities for what they want to measure. So we went very quickly. So we have now a new standard that we’re building and this is called, very creatively, ISO 37121. So in the numeric of ISOs, ISO 37120 was our first one and now we’re building 121. And that’s on resilience. So that’s going to be a huge boon for cities because increasingly with the extreme weather events, so our ice storm, and in Sandy, New York, and all over the world, and in the Philippines right now. The number one priority for cities is to think about how to prepare better because of the flooding that’s happening in so many cities. Even in the U.S. there’s Class Action suits now because peoples’ basements are flooding and cities are going to face difficulties getting insurance because of this. They already are. So now, this next standard will help to actually build capacity and transparency in local governments that says we are ready, here’s what we’re doing, here’s our measurement, here’s the evidence. Which will help to build insurance coverage and credit worthiness ratings, and all kinds of spinoffs that we hadn’t even suspected or thought about 5 years ago when we were building this.


Brianna Goldberg: I’m thinking about, when you’re talking about Particulate Matter, Shanghai comes to mind obviously. They have challenges with pollution in the air. And there’s so much power that the Standards can have, that it can give to cities, but it also exposes their soft underbellies. How do you get cities onboard with this, and how will it actually end up affecting their policies or the way that their cities develop?


You raised the question about China, about Shanghai. Shanghai, in the past when we were building the indicators in the first round, we didn’t have one city in China reporting for the very reason you’re suggesting. All data is gathered nationally in China so a lot of the statistics are geared to all cities in the country, but it’s not cities reporting. And our motto was to have cities reporting because we really wanted to make sure this was being built by cities. And it was built under the priorities for cities. And that is why we got traction so quickly, because those were the priorities. But now, with the ISO Standard, Shanghai was one of the first cities to step up and say we want to be part of this test of conformity for ISO Standard. The Chinese are at the table helping us to build this. Why is that happening? Well, as you say, Beijing in particular which has one of the highest PM concentrations, it may not make them look good, that’s true, but what we’re finding is that when you have good evidence to say to a senior Government, our city really needs help on PM, or our city really needs help on infrastructure investment, or our commute time is the worst in the world, it may sound like you’re being ranked and you’re really behaving in a substandard mode, but it also helps to leverage. It leverages funding from senior levels of Government. The credibility on a third party verification of that data has so much traction internationally.


[Music in]


That was Patricia McCarney, head of the Global Cities Institute at U of T’s Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design. You can read about her work on the World Council on City Data and more at .


Coming up, we’ll hear the president’s views on U of T’s best kept secret….




Meric Gertler knows cities. He studied them as an award-winning urbanist and geographer and now he’s helping to build one as president of the University of Toronto.


Because if you count out the more than 80,000 students at the University of Toronto and add that to the square footage its three campus occupies across the GTA – this university and its students, staff and faculty make up a huge part of this city.


And Toronto thrives on the university and the university thrives on the city. It’s a message Gertler shared recently in a speech at the Big Cities, Big Ideas lecture series, held at U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs.


The following is an edited portion of his remarks… and heads up that the alumnus he mentions, Bill Buxton, is the computer scientist behind a company called Autodesk Alias. It makes computer-assisted design tools… his work has also been behind the scenes on touchscreens, animation software, and other human-computer interactive tech. Here’s Meric Gertler picking up from where he left off when he addressed the Toronto Board of Trade.


[Music out]


At that occasion I made the case that a strong university helps build a strong city and vice versa. A strong host city enables a university like this one to excel nationally and internationally. I also signalled that the University of Toronto is embracing its role as a city-builder and that it welcomes opportunities to collaborate with other actors and organizations in the city region to advance quality of life and quality of place, and to address our challenges and sees our opportunities here in the GTA. Now, I say this not just because it’s the right thing to do, and I say this not just because I’m a cities guy who comes by these interests naturally, but also because it is really a matter of enlightened self-interest for the university. The better we make Toronto, the easier it is for us to attract and retain fantastic faculty staff and students from across Canada and around the world. So the first point is that universities do many good things for cities, perhaps the most important thing that they do is that they impart dynamism and resilience to the economies of their host regions. They help these places reinvent themselves over time and that is, of course, really, really critical. But at the same time that they are sources of dynamism, they are also sources of stability. And it’s that unique combination which I think together, makes them even more valuable. The idea that universities are tremendous stabilizers, sources of stability in urban economies, and also on the local neighbourhoods that they inhabit. One of the ways that universities are able to do these two things is by connecting their host city region to the world and vice versa. So universities like this one connect Toronto to the world and connect the world to Toronto. They are one of the portals, the connecting points between us and the rest of the globe. In 1975, a twenty-six year old music graduate from Queens arrived at U of T intent on designing his own digital musical instrument. This is Bill Buxton, Alias now Autodesk was not a U of T start-up per se, but it was and it remains a hotbed of innovation in entrepreneurial activity based right here in Toronto, producing leading-edged software for 3D design, engineering and most famously for entertainment. Apart from disrupting and reinventing the way humans interact with computers, Buxton’s contributions at Alias and Autodesk, helped earn the company 3 Academy Awards. So since the days when Buxton first joined Alias/Autodesk, the firm has employed more than 100 graduates of U of T. Where over, over the years since those days, there has been frequent and continuous movement of employees and faculty and students between the firm and the university, just shuttling back and forth. And in 2011, U of T and Autodesk together received a Synergy Award for Innovation from NSERC recognizing the remarkable output and value and impact that has come from this partnership. Now it’s a marvelous story and I recounted it for a number of reasons. It illustrates beautifully, many of my main points about the symbiotic relationship between universities and cities. In particular it clearly shows how vital universities can be for the prosperity of their host regions and vice versa. It demonstrates how things that are found in a host region benefit and enrich the university as well. And finally, the Buxton story nicely demonstrates how universities can be gateways for their institutions and for the city regions in which they are situated. But there is one other way in which the story of Bill Buxton is emblematic of Toronto and its leading research intensive university, and that is this, that hardly anyone here knows this story. The success of Toronto and indeed the success of the University of Toronto as a centre for innovation is a well-kept secret.


That was U of T’s President Meric Gertler speaking at the Big Cities, Big Ideas lecture series. To learn more about his solutions for spreading the word about the well-kept secret of innovative Toronto – and for a link to the full version of the speech – head to .


That’s where you can find more about the companies U of T is helping to develop as they build Toronto’s future economy.




From symbiotic relationships to international standards, and service classes patch-worked against creative classes patch-worked against skyscrapers and livelier green space flush with enlightened citizens and deer running through trails in High Park – these are just a few glimpses into Toronto’s future. And it’s made possible by the research, writing and entrepreneurship going on at U of T.


But of course it doesn’t stop there.


U of T is helping Toronto get healthier at places like the Centre for Urban Health Initiatives  and the Centre for Research on Inner City Health and the student-run community health-focused IMAGINE clinic.


It’s opening up to active citizens with spaces like the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre at U of T’s Scarborough campus.


It’s integrating students with Toronto communities through initiatives like the New College Learning Without Borders program, studying through field trips to Kensington Market and other cultural centres…


It’s teaching students how to build cities with the new Master’s degree in Cities Engineering and Management… and then there are courses from cities experts like Deb Cowen and Zack Taylor and Eric Miller and all the other researchers interviewed in this and earlier episodes.


We at the U of T Cities podcast were pleased to bring you all these stories in this miniseries.


To find previous episodes featuring interviews on artificially intelligent traffic lights, an environmentally-responsive transit system, predictions for a new digital economy… and a whole lot more… just head over to U of T News at .


That’s also where you can find news and features on the U of T work transforming cities, entrepreneurship, health, education and more.


You can now subscribe to U of T News Podcasts on iTunes. The link is at


Today we featured  music made available on the Free Music Archive. The artists are Cheese N Pot-C, Tha Silent Partner and The Custodian of Records. Also, Jazzafari, Mnag Quad and Cosmic Analog ensemble.


This program was produced by me, Brianna Goldberg, with help from U of T News editor Jennifer Lanthier. Special thanks to Dominic Ali for recording the Meric Gertler speech—and special thanks to all of you, for listening.