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Help Make the Indigenous District Toronto's Smart Cities Challenge

Last Thursday, 100 people turned out for our presentation on the Smart Cities Challenge with a special focus on Innovation and the Indigenous District in Toronto. We were quickly overwhelmed by the response as many more people showed up then had originally RSVP’d. My sincerest apologies to those who were unable to come into the main room. Thankfully, our gracious host, MaRS Discovery District, quickly opened an overflow room and allowed people the opportunity to watch the presentation on Facebook Live.

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As the City of Toronto explores its options for submissions to the federal Smart Cities Challenge, our team was encouraged to see so many people interested in the concept of an Indigenous District. We believe this to be a real opportunity for Toronto to take an important step towards reconciliation, innovation and broad social inclusion.   

As we learned last week, the time to submit ideas for the Smart Cities Challenge is fast approaching and entries must be received by this Friday, February 2, 2018.  If you would like to see the City and the community work together to further explore the concept for an Indigenous District, I encourage you to complete the online survey here to indicate your support.  The more submissions received supporting this initiative, the more likely it will be chosen as Toronto’s Smart Cities Challenge proposal.

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We believe the Indigenous District is the ideal Smart Cities Challenge proposal. This initiative will accelerate the transformation of the Dundas Street corridor into a world centre for Indigenous innovation and leadership, act as a tool to engage and encourage other knowledge hubs throughout the region and country through the creation of physical and virtual corridor. The Indigenous District will enable businesses and entrepreneurs to work with the community to access Indigenous-led innovation, technology and talent through virtual and physical co-working locations. The creation of Canada’s first-ever Indigenous District serves as a scalable model for private, public, university, and civil society partnerships.

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Regardless of whether Innovation and the Indigenous District becomes Toronto’s Smart Cities submission, we remain excited about the potential for this project.  Our work to build the Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will continue at 200 Dundas Street East.  The new centre will be the catalyst to bring a diverse community into focus. We strive to create the best ecosystem for social innovation and entrepreneurship with the Indigenous community and beyond.

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The first two floors of 200 Dundas St East will be Canada's first-ever Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a 16,000 SF community hub space. View is looking west toward Jarvis Street on Dundas Street East.

This project is supported by Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Indigenous Place Making Council, Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council and MaRS Discovery District. Thank you to ERA Architects, Brook McIlroy and Indigenous Place Making Council for your support in developing images and design specs for this project. If you would like to see the City and the community work together to further explore the concept for an Indigenous District, please complete the online survey by Friday, February 2, 2018 to indicate your support.  

Thank you for your meaningful feedback and participation.  If you have any questions or comments, do not hesitate to be in touch with my office at councillor_wongtam@toronto.ca.