CITY FUTURES: Facing Big Issues in the Age of Immediacy


Tuesday’s April 17th to May 15th, 2018 1:30-3:30
Grace United Church, Cook & Grove St., Barrie

Coordinator: Mayor Jeff Lehman

The long term challenges affecting cities are increasingly complex and often global in scale; yet our politics and our decision making is increasingly driven to the immediate. The central theme of this series will be to identify and describe five key issues affecting our cities, each of which is a long-term and strategic challenge, and speak to how they might be addressed in the age of immediacy.

Organizations making big decisions often start the process with an “environmental scan”, using the acronym PESTLE: Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, and Environmental. Each of these disciplines address fundamental changes affecting our cities. This framework (less the “legal” piece) will structure the series, with lectures addressing five key issues shaping the future for Canadian cities:

Presenters: David Crombie, Mike Moffat, Anne Golden, Brian Bentz and Jeff Lehman

Tuesday April 17: Immediate vs. Long Term

PresenterDavid Crombie

Political decision making is often influenced by a desire to demonstrate immediate results. But the challenges facing communities are longer term in nature. In a time of social media, new challenges in terms of the legitimacy and sustainability of traditional media, and tendency to treat the public as consumers, how might we restore the sense of citizenship necessary to build social license to tackle long-term challenges and opportunities?

David Crombie, former MP & Mayor of Toronto

See Biography: David Crombie

Tuesday April 24: The Sharing Economy

Presenter: Mike Moffatt

The sharing economy brings the promise of unlocking wealth and greater economic efficiency through everything from new models for borrowing money to peer-to-peer contracting for everything from transportation to odd jobs. Yet it may fundamentally undermine the stability of employment and disrupt existing businesses. How might we embrace a seemingly unstoppable economic shift while protecting the essential value of labour and the unintended consequences of disruptive technology?

Mike Moffat, Chief Economist, Mowat Centre

See Biography: Mike Moffatt

Tuesday May 1: Cities and Social Challenges

Presenter: Anne Golden

Increasing income polarization continues to create economic and social impacts. Our cities are attracting record levels of investment yet homelessness and poverty are not being significantly reduced. New models such as community hubs are allowing a more coordinated approach to delivering services most needed by marginalized residents. How might we work more constructively to address root causes of homelessness and thereby reduce poverty and marginalization?

Anne Golden, Director, Ryerson City Building Institute

See Biography: Anne Golden

Lecture Notes

Tuesday, May 8: Innovative Energy Strategies

Presenter: Brian Bentz

Technology is progressing at a record pace, leading to huge disruption across many sectors such as the travel, retail, hotel and music industries. The utility sector is also undergoing its share of generational change. Low cost renewable generation and storage, combined with digital intelligence and communication are reshaping the landscape. Brian Bentz, President and CEO, Alectra Inc., will share his insights and experience on how he is leading the transformation of Alectra from a traditional local electricity distribution company to an innovative, integrated energy solution provider.

Brian Bentz, CEO, Alectra, Inc.

See Biography: Brian Bentz

Tuesday May 15: Urban Sprawl – Is it Sustainable?

Presenter: Mayor Jeff Lehman

Rising wealth and a preference for detached homes have driven our urban form since the Second World War. But suburban development is widely derided as driving unsustainable transportation patterns and costly infrastructure solutions. Will we have to give up having a backyard if we’re to successfully build the cities of tomorrow? Or can EV technology, widespread transit, and shifting patterns of employment and work allow a sustainable future while retaining the Canadian suburban dream? How might we blend the strong preferences of Canadians for ground-oriented housing with the need to shift to a more sustainable urban form?

Jeff Lehman, Mayor of Barrie

See Biography: Mayor Jeff Lehman

Venue:   Grace United Church

Venue Website:

350 Grove St. E, Barrie, Ontario, Canada