Pickering, Durham Region cited as top 21 global ‘Smart Communities’

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Published March 20, 2023 at 11:08 am

Smart AND good looking? Pickering and Durham Region have the former quality – the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) says so – and as to the latter, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

There’s no denying Durham Region and Pickering are ‘Smart’ communities and the ICF have nominated them both as two of the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2023, an annual awards program that recognizes municipalities around the world that are successfully leveraging the power of technology to develop inclusive and prosperous communities.

This year’s list of Smart21 Communities includes 21 cities and counties from eight countries, spread over five continents, with six factors identified as “critical” in building a smart community: Broadband Connectivity, Sustainability, Knowledge Work, Digital Inclusion, Innovation, and Community Engagement.

Smart initiatives in Pickering cited by the ICF include:

  • Advocating for greater broadband coverage in Pickering. Bell will be bringing all-fibre broadband access to approximately 21,000 Pickering locations over the next three years.
  • Adopting the City’s new Integrated Sustainable Design Standards. The standards apply to all new development review in Pickering and reflect the innovative green best practices and technology of today, as well as the work being done by both the City and Region of Durham to address climate change, support urban forests, pollinators, waste reduction, water conservation, energy efficiency, and improve access to local food and greenspaces.
  • Improving access to learning through the Pickering Public Library by offering a variety of in-person and online resources, programs, and services to residents and visitors, including meeting rooms and study spaces, online courses, and entrepreneurship programs.
  • Bridging the digital divide by making technology more accessible. Pickering Public Library’s Maker Space provides citizens with access to equipment (3D printers, button makers, and a sound booth), loanable technology, and one-on-one device assistance.
  • Educating and engaging citizens on topics of importance to the community’s future (including development proposals, budgets and user fees, and zoning by-law reviews).

Durham garnered praise for:

  • Bringing the Regional Broadband Network to the underserved with the Regional Broadband Strategy. The Region has already directed $2.8 million in funding to develop the first 35 km of the backbone fiber trunk through particularly underserved rural areas and has submitted applications to the provincial and federal governments for more funding to bring the full project to life.
  • Providing access to residents of all ages and incomes. To ensure that all residents can access the best available learning tools and environments Durham Region has developed a program to help eligible families obtain the Canada Learning Bond. The program provides low-income families with financial assistance for internet service and to access post-secondary education options for their children.
  • Developing clean and efficient energy and transportation for the Region.

Pickering and Durham Region, which have each been nominated twice before (2017 & 2018 for Pickering; 2022 and 2021 for Durham) are up against Binh Duong, Vietnam, Ponta Grossa, Brazil, Assai County, Brazil, Curitiba, Brazil, Sunshine Coast, Australia, Townsville, Australia, Greater Geelong, Australia, Whanganui, New Zealand, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Astana, Kazakhstan,  Coral Gables, Florida, Doral, Florida, Defiance, Ohio, Hilliard, Ohio, Fairfield/Jefferson County, Iowa and four other Canadian communities: Fredericton, New Brunswick, Estevan, Saskatchewan Grey County in Ontario and Coquitlam in British Columbia.

From the list of semi-finalist communities, the ICF will select a smaller group of honourees to be its Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year. The winning city is named in October.

New Taipei City, Taiwan was the Intelligent Community of the Year in 2022. Durham Region was one of the seven semi-finalists.

“On behalf of Members of Council and staff, we are truly honoured to be recognized as one of the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2023,” said Mayor Kevin Ashe. “This distinction is a reflection of the transformational projects and initiatives that we have undertaken to support economic development, job creation, innovation, and sustainability as our City evolves as one of Ontario’s premier municipalities.”

Visit IntelligentCommunity.org to learn more about the award program.

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