As part of the University of Alberta’s Centenary celebration, EOTE hosted Innovative Urban Planning and Design. The one-day event began with a lunch and lecture with Dr. Meric Gertler, Dean of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Arts and Science. In his lecture Canadian Cities as Foundations for Economic and Cultural Growth, Gertler spoke about the Bohemian Index—a measurement of the impact of arts and culture on the economic growth of a city-region. When there is a positive correlation between the Bohemian Index and industry (such as the IT industry in San Francisco, for example), then the economy of the city-region is healthy. This is so, he argues, because a well-planned city with a vibrant arts and culture scene will attract the best and most creative workers.
The afternoon panel discussion, Making a Great City, featured Dr. Gertler; Jaime Lerner, former Mayor of Curitiba, Brazil; Len Rodrigues, architect with Stantec and formerly with the University of Alberta; and moderator Pat Butler of Stantec. The speakers were asked “What makes a great city?” Although there are many factors, some key themes emerged. Mobility, sustainability, and diversity are all components of great cities.
In the evening public lecture, Jaime Lerner gave an inspiring presentation entitled Learning from the Curitiba Experience: Achieving Urban Change. Mr. Lerner wowed the audience with innovative ideas for mobility, waste management, and urban design. During his first term as Mayor of Curitiba, Lerner revolutionized the mass transport system by creating dedicated lanes for articulated buses and futuristic platforms for easy boarding. Curitiba’s public transport system is now acknowledged worldwide for its efficiency, quality, and low cost. Lerner is also credited for other initiatives that resulted in improving the quality of life for the citizens of Curitiba, and making the city an international model for innovative urban planning and design.