Whitehorse Daily Star

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Councillors Samson Hartland

Smart Cities Challenge could bring millions to city

he territory, city and Yukonstruct Makerspace Society will soon be working together on a project that could eventually bring millions of dollars to the community to help solve a local issue.

By Stephanie Waddell on February 5, 2018

The territory, city and Yukonstruct Makerspace Society will soon be working together on a project that could eventually bring millions of dollars to the community to help solve a local issue.

At its meeting last Monday, council unanimously voted in favour of having city staff collaborate with the territorial government and Yukonstruct to prep a “challenge statement” for the Smart Cities Challenge.

The challenge was launched in November 2017 by Infrastructure Canada as a competition to improve public service delivery at the community level through innovation, data and technology.

“In the first step of the competition, municipalities, local or regional governments, and Indigenous communities are encouraged to engage with their local residents to identify a local issue and prepare a Challenge Statement that proposes an innovative solution,” it was noted in a report to council.

After the April 24 deadline for submissions, a jury will select the finalists, who will each receive $250,000 to develop a proposal that could be fully implemented. It’s expected a list of finalists will be announced in the summer.

A deadline for the winter of 2019 would be established for final proposal submissions on a “fully-implementable proposal”.

Four prizes would then be awarded to winners. Those are:

• one prize of up to $50 million that would be open to all communities regardless of population;

• two prizes of up to $10 million open to all communities with a population under 500,000; and

• one prize of up to $5 million open to all communities with a population of 30,000.

Winners would have up to five years to implement their projects through contribution agreements with Infrastructure Canada.

“The territory is proposing to support the city’s participation in the first step of the competition by funding the statement preparation costs and providing staff support,” it was noted.

“Under the proposed framework, YG would enter into a contribution agreement with Yukonstruct Makerspace Society, a local start-up and innovation hub, who would then lead the application process for the city with the support of a technical advisory group,” it was noted.

It goes on to state that as one of the capital cities in the territories, the city is in a good position to take advantage of the Challenge with support from the Yukon government.

“Whitehorse is a creative city, and has more community resources available than a typical community of its size,” the report reads.

“Whitehorse is eligible to apply in any of the three prize categories.”

It then cites five benefits that could come from taking part in the challenge, including:

• working with local innovators toward solutions on community issues, including priorities council has already identified;

• strengthening city partnerships with a range of stakeholders;

• boosting local innovation, development opportunities and stimulating economic development;

• receiving nationwide publicity and increasing the city’s profile as an “innovation hub”; and

• building the city’s data and technological capacity.

Councillors Jocelyn Curteanu and Samson Hartland were vocal in their support of the effort.

Curteanu, however, acknowledged she had initially been hesitant about the project because of the city’s limited capacity.

This initiative, however, is an opportunity for the city to partner with the territorial government and Yukonstruct in a good collaboration.

“Let’s see how this goes,” Curteanu said.

Hartland echoed Curteanu’s comment.

He pointed out the challenge presents an opportunity to work on a number of issues that fall under council’s strategic plan such as urban planning, parking and more.

“I’m fairly excited to see what this is going to produce for us,” he said.

With council giving the go-ahead for the project, work will now begin on community and stakeholder engagement, expected to take until early March.

A proposal on the challenge statement will then come forward to council for a vote in April before the application is submitted.

Comments (6)

Up 0 Down 0

Susana Valera-Perez on Feb 21, 2018 at 5:37 pm

What about using that money for real affordable green housing. That can benefit not just families but young and single people too. Like a cooperative idea where everyone is involved to create smart homes. Not just to benefit the builders. But the people.

Up 0 Down 0

Josey Wales on Feb 6, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Smart city, challenge and Whitehorse all in the same sentence...really?
April is far away so somebody must need to justify their existence clearly.
In regards to CoW and being able to comprehend the very word “smart”
Yes now I see where the challenge lays...”challenged” indeed our formerly beloved CoW indeed is.

Up 1 Down 0

Hmmmm.. on Feb 6, 2018 at 8:20 pm

Sounds like a cash grab on Yukonstructs part. Not sure why they even need to be involved here..

Up 3 Down 0

Innovation great idea way to go two Councillors. on Feb 6, 2018 at 9:37 am

There are a lot innovative opportunities in Whitehorse such as downtown park and ride, like other Cities.
Use our water and sewage system to generate power, like other Cities are doing.
Develop uses for waste products like tires, glass and plastic. Like plastic lumber.

Up 1 Down 0

jc on Feb 5, 2018 at 9:40 pm

Will someone please tell me what the the double hockey sticks this story is all about? I've never read such mumbo jumbo before.

Up 3 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Feb 5, 2018 at 3:38 pm

What local issues need solving that requires so many millions (and the huge C02 emissions that go with it)? Whitehorse learning to live within it's means would be the smartest, simplest, most economically sensible and greenest way to go. Then look at playing in the big leagues.

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