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Public Engagement in Experiential Futures



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Providing access to local shopping centres by public transportation or high quality pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is now an important consideration for successful retail projects. The city of Mississauga plans on expanding transit services to areas that have achieved, or will be planned to achieve, transit supportive residential and employment densities, together with a mix of residential, office, institutional and commercial development, wherever possible.

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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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Diversity is becoming a broader concept beyond one’s ethnic background. When Canada describes itself as “diverse”, we often think of one’s ethnic background. However, we are a leader in other diversity issues, such as gay and transgender rights. Now, new forms of diversity are being accepted, such as neurodiversity and physical abilities, which paints a richer picture of what diversity in Canada looks like. It’s not just about accepting different ethnicities, but different ways of thinking and being.

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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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Canada and other G19 leaders have highlighted the climate refugee crisis to be the greatest threat to global stability. Because of this, Canada continues to increase the amount of climate refugees it takes in year after year in spite of its capacity to support them. Because of the complexity of the crisis, no country has been able to develop a best practice around refugee settlement and this is causing conflicts with local communities.

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To better manage the complexity around newcomer support services, newcomers must opt into programs that then track and monitor newcomer activity through the provision of such services. While this helps the government with smarter resource distribution, the state of being under constant surveillance leaves many newcomers without a sense of self-agency.

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Newcomers are willing to take high risks on their safety in order to maintain work. At the same time, workplace safety for entry level positions are not a priority for corporations as workers are easily replaceable due to the scarcity of job opportunities. Workers rights within employment laws have previously been curtailed in favor of private corporations’ interest as local economies have been dependent in the last years on corporate monopoly and jobs created from the rise of corporate power. Unable to rely on the system, newcomers turn to community support for protection. As such, social capital is an extremely important asset for newcomers.

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