2023 was a year full of firsts for Intelligent Futures: We moved into our new inner city, mixed-use, all-electric home, Kensington Corner; We are now B-Corp certified, joining a global community of businesses committed to social and environmental responsibility; We pushed ourselves to find new ways of working that create the positive impact we seek in the world through the 4 Day Work Week experiment. All while working on over 24 projects across six provinces, helping organizations and communities to sharpen their focus to navigate complex challenges and effect tangible change. Read on for a summary of some of this year’s achievements:
As we witness the increasing and accelerating impacts of climate change, it's clear that the healthcare sector is on the front lines of this battle. We were fortunate to work with the Interior Health Authority of British Columbia to navigate how this healthcare institution can effectively respond to the challenge of climate change. The 2023-2028 Climate Change and Sustainability Roadmap is a strategic blueprint designed to steer Interior Health (IH) towards a more sustainable future as a holistic organization, healthcare provider, and integral community member.
This roadmap enables IH to proactively address climate change challenges and foster sustainability principles throughout the organization and the communities it serves. IH remains steadfast in its commitment to spearheading transformative initiatives promoting a resilient healthcare system, contributing equitably to the well-being of populations, staff and the communities they serve. Moreover, it reinforces their dedication to the sustainable future of our planet.
Fraser Health's commitment to serving the diverse communities in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia is underscored by the acknowledgement of operating on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish and Nlaka'pamux Nations. The region, marked as the fastest-growing and most diverse in British Columbia, serves over 1.9 million people in 20 municipalities, representing a mosaic of linguistic and cultural diversity. We worked with Fraser Health in developing its first Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy, which stands as a milestone in creating a more inclusive, diverse, and equitable healthcare system.
The foundation of the strategy is rooted in recognizing systemic barriers that hinder equitable environments for both those serving in and being served by Fraser Health. Through fostering enhanced partnerships across departments, the strategy aims to coordinate various EDI initiatives and incorporate Indigenous-specific programs as a culturally relevant approach to healthcare delivery. Guided by the EDI Strategy, Fraser Health’s team of nearly more than 45,000 dedicated staff, medical professionals, and volunteers has the tools needed to enhance the delivery of culturally safe healthcare services.
With abundant arable land and sunshine, Alberta is known for its vast fields of grain and cattle ranching pasture that span from the Rockies to Saskatchewan. Today, more and more agriculture is happening in our cities too! Cultivating, processing, and distributing food locally helps to encourage social interaction, enhance food security, reduce our ecological footprint, mitigate climate change, and contribute to reconciliation and food sovereignty. This year, we had the opportunity to work with the City of Beaumont to develop their first Urban Agriculture Plan to empower the community to engage in urban agriculture while connecting new local initiatives to Beaumont’s rich agricultural heritage in a just and sustainable way.
Standing on the shoulders of the people, projects and policies that are implementing urban agriculture initiatives in Beaumont today, the plan provides guiding principles, a long-term vision and set of goals, and a detailed approach to implementation supporting community involvement across 12 key actions. Agriculture is a celebrated pillar of Beaumont’s heritage. By planning for agriculture instead of planning around it, the City is working to grow a sustainable agricultural future.
As the average life expectancy for Canadians continues to rise, a focus on quality of life for older adults has been drawn into sharper relief. A key part of this focus is in-home aging, or the ability for older individuals to remain in their own homes as they age. We worked closely with Healthy Aging Alberta to explore the prospect of a common referral system for community-based seniors-serving organizations in Calgary and area.
Collaboration in this sector is often marked by funding challenges, system navigation issues, capacity shortfalls, and a lack of a broad overview of offerings. The resulting process explored regional systems mapping, the user experience of older adults accessing sector resources, and promising practices drawn from other jurisdictions. This exploratory process revealed a general interest in the possibility of a common referral system for Calgary and area from the perspective of service providers and community members, built connections and capacity within the regional sector, and ultimately provided a complete medium-term work program.
In the face of continued injustice toward Canada's Indigenous people and in pursuit of Truth and Reconciliation, Stardale Women’s Group amplifies the voice of young Indigenous women across the prairies. Stardale provides space for togetherness and pride so these women and girls can walk harmoniously in their two worlds. This year, Intelligent Futures created the Stardale Strategic Plan to set the course for the next generation of leadership at Stardale, to ensure that urban Indigenous girls continue to have the safe spaces that Stardale has come to be known for.
Rooted in local Indigenous worldviews and practices, the team worked with a variety of knowledge holders to map the course for this invaluable organization. Through seven key priorities, a critical work plan was created for this thinly stretched group to achieve its goals of organizational stability and growth. These priorities ranged from recruiting new board members and leadership to raising funds and enhancing program opportunities. The resulting Stardale Strategy is designed to support leadership transition and the program to increase its flexibility to the changing needs and desires of those it serves.
In times of unprecedented global change, strategic planning at all levels of government, including at the community level, is necessary. In the face of continued pressures from the global pandemic, major snow storms, infrastructure failures, and rapid population growth, the Town of Paradise undertook a strategic planning process to ensure they continued cultivating a high quality of life for their residents. In doing so, the Town worked to ensure they could address the influx of pressures currently affecting their local community while setting themselves up for future pressures and community needs.
The Town’s Strategic Plan addresses various facets within their community, from infrastructure, economic growth, social and cultural health, environmental stewardship to improved governance and engagement. Collaboratively working towards a shared vision to create a thriving well-balanced community together, the Town of Paradise has a roadmap outlining short-term actions to improve Paradise today, set the stage for the future, and strengthen systems of collaboration in the fastest growing municipality in Newfoundland.
The Bow and Elbow River watersheds supply the City of Calgary and other downstream communities with essential clean drinking water. With only 0.7% of the Bow and Elbow River Watersheds being within the City of Calgary’s boundary, ensuring that these water sources remain pristine requires coordination and collaboration with a variety of watershed partners.
With the high volume of groups working to empower diverse audiences to take action to protect the watershed, there is an opportunity to further the impact of these groups through collaborative action. To further the impact of these organizations, an investigation and assessment of different collaboration models for Calgary’s source water context was undertaken. Intelligent Futures developed a collective impact model to provide watershed partners with a potential for amplified impact and reach, shared funding models, reduced duplication, and improved communications and data tracking to ensure that the watershed stays healthy for generations to come.
Nestled on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, the Town of Cobourg is a future growth area with a rich built and natural heritage, an iconic waterfront, and a community inspired to ensure the Town’s continued sustainability. In 2019, the Town Council passed a resolution to declare a climate emergency and accelerate its transition to a more sustainable future. Building from the momentum of this declaration and ongoing community sustainability efforts, Intelligent Futures developed the Town’s first Integrated Community Sustainability Plan.
The Plan is an actionable long-term framework that works towards a vision of sustainability, community stewardship in the promotion of a strong local economy, responsible urban development, respect for cultural diversity, and social and economic equity for all residents. In collaboration with local residents, the plan provides the Town with the next steps necessary to implement natural environment, social, cultural, built environment, and governance change for a more sustainable future.
Looking forward to 2024, we are excited to continue working on a diversity of projects, from reimagining city building across the City of Calgary to working with Indigenous communities to inform watershed resilience planning to finding affordable housing solutions that meet the needs of larger and extended Muslim families, Veterans, and 2SLGBTQIA+ seniors; All in service of equity, sustainability, and prosperity—in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow.