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Public Engagement in Experiential Futures



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Environmental

Developers and planners are rethinking the mall concept, integrating different property types in hopes of achieving higher occupancy rates and higher rents. Office tenants and residents enjoy the convenience of having multiple retail and dining options nearby, while retailers and restaurants like the increased foot traffic from having both workers and residents on site. Malls have been repurposed as social service centres, professional offices, health care centres, churches, nature enclaves and as public markets.

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Climate change is set to cause a refugee crisis of “unimaginable scale”, according to senior military figures, who warn that global warming is the greatest security threat of the 21st century and that mass migration will become the “new normal”. The Global Military Advisory Council on Climate Change project that we will see the climate refugee crisis reach to potentially 30 million people.

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Many demographic studies have charted how suburbs are becoming more and more colourful, welcoming large numbers of minorities and recent immigrants. Suburbs are now being designed to meet the needs of highly diverse communities. For example, nearly three out of every four Markham residents claim “visible minority” status, with more than a third of the population hailing from China. Other sizable groups include South Asians, Arabs, Koreans and Filipinos.

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Local policymakers are beginning to reassess land use and zone restrictions to see how big box retail “greyzones” can be reimagined as denser mixed-use developments that residents and city managers want. Benefits of mixed-use zoning include lower infrastructure costs, increased tax revenue, and operating budget savings. One such example is the Greenline development in Calgary, which is a mash-up of residential and commercial.

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The Canadian government has developed extra social programs to help newcomers from climate disaster zones but because of the growing exponential complexity of the crisis, many newcomers are falling through the cracks. Many have found this as an opportunity to develop informal networks where newcomers can develop support networks for themselves. While some have found this as a way to cope with the sometimes inefficient support from the government, others use these networks as a platform for commercial exploitation.

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Toronto continues to be a Canadian hotspot for newcomers and climate refugees. Many of the first newcomer communities who have established roots in Toronto’s downtown core are now that much more robust and have become daily destinations for newcomers to gather, share news and grow their social networks. Because of this, the population density has doubled since 2017.

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Year after year, summer temperatures have hit record highs putting great strains on Toronto’s energy networks to provide power to cooling systems. Many of the newcomer communities and local Torontonians who do not have the resources to combat the heat migrate to cooler public commercial spaces. This provides opportunities for cultural communities to come together but it also creates conflicts between newcomer communities and those who think they pose a strain on the system.

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With radical climate change negatively impacting global food production, food has become scarcer and more expensive in urban centers like Toronto. Newcomer communities turn to each other to share resources and food. Also, because of shortages in employment, bread winners now have to find ways to support not only their families but their extended communities as well.

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Many of the high rise condos in downtown Toronto have started to deteriorate due to the economical building practices and materials used in the condo boom in Toronto that began in 2010. Because of the high costs associated in replacing and fixing the materials and fixtures, the prices of these condos dropped considerably, attracting many citizens who normally wouldn’t be able to afford living in the core. This has resulted in the “Rich Ditch” where more affluent Torontonians have moved to more economically wealthy suburbs like Hamilton.

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