I am thrilled to announce Civic Hall Toronto, a joint project operated by Code for Canada and in collaboration with CSI and the City of Toronto.
Civic Hall Toronto will be the home for civic innovation in Toronto. A place where government innovators, social entrepreneurs, civic technologists and residents can work together to build a better city.
One of the things that we are most excited about removing the barriers between City Hall staff and Torontonians. At Civic Hall Toronto, everyone will be working and learning in the same space.
What is that going to look like? From the get-go, it will provide desk space for those working at the intersections of civic and social innovation. As it comes together, we’ll start to see the creation of things like workshops and hackathons. And our long-term dream is that it will evolve from a collection of desk spaces to a dedicated hub for civic change.
This project started when Councillor Paul Ainslie visited Civic Hall New York in New York City. Civic Hall New York is bringing people together to find solutions on issues from public health and transportation to social inclusion and open government. Upon Councillor Ainslie’s return, he asked what it would look like to have something similar in Toronto. CSI was uniquely qualified to respond to that question. We had some familiarity with Civic Hall New York, and we had a lot of familiarity with creating shared space for social innovation.
We were thrilled to have this opportunity to serve the city at large. We knew that our years of experience and knowledge could be a huge part of Civic Hall Toronto‘s success. But we also knew we would need our own collaborators. So the city engaged with Code for Canada as the content leads; their experience with the popular Civic Tech Toronto meetup group made them the perfect partners.
It is CSI’s mission to catalyze, support and inspire social innovation. And we know that this requires change in policy, markets, and culture. We are rarely able to affect all three in one common space, but Civic Hall Toronto will do exactly that. It has the potential to help solve some of the most pressing challenges of our city. It will also serve as a model for other cities to follow.
So what are the next steps? How can you get involved? Check out the Civic Hall Toronto website to sign up for updates regarding upcoming programming. Shea Sinnott from Code for Canada will let you know shortly about chances to jump in.
I also want to say that while I am the person who has the honour of sharing this news with you, there was big team working behind the scenes to make this all happen. I would in particular like to acknowledge the work of Shona Fulcher, Will Mattfeld-Sarbaugh, Stefan Hostetter, Audra Williams, and of course our CEO Tonya Surman.
For the next few months, Civic Hall will have a presence at 215 Spadina, with the real unveiling happening at 192 Spadina this fall.