This week, municipalities across Ontario are in Ottawa for the annual Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) Conference to discuss some of the complex issues facing Ontario’s communities today.
As willing partners in helping to address these important challenges, Ontario’s universities are also taking part in these valuable conversations and remain committed to working across sectors to help build strong communities throughout the province.
Whether it’s helping increase access to services and building efficient infrastructure, or safeguarding homes against flooding, our institutions are partnering with municipalities on numerous initiatives.
Below is just a small sample of the many ways universities are fostering partnerships across multiple sectors to build vibrant communities and drive a dynamic province.
Improving water management and flood prevention
- Groundwater provides drinking water for more than one million people living in some of southern Ontario’s fastest-growing communities. By partnering with the City of Guelph, the University of Guelph is monitoring local wells to help surrounding municipalities sustainably manage water resources and access safe drinking water.
- Homeowners, communities and businesses are finding ways to reduce the risks associated with extreme weather while potentially saving billions of dollars in damages. Through a partnership with Intact Financial Corporation, the Intact Centre on Climate Change Adaptation, located at the University of Waterloo, helps safeguard homes and businesses across Ontario.
- Along shorelines in Windsor and throughout Essex County, docks, marinas, waterfront roads and parks have been closed due to flooding. The Town of LaSalle and the University of Windsor are partnering to address this issue by installing sensors along the Detroit River to monitor water levels, collect data and mitigate the impact of flooding.
Finding efficiencies through infrastructure upgrades
- As the future of building design becomes more efficient and cost-effective, researchers at Carleton University’s Building Performance Research Centre are developing tools, technologies and methods to reduce energy use from buildings and communities, while making them more comfortable.
- A new energy system is helping reduce the cost big box stores and condominium complexes spend on energy. Developed by McMaster University researchers and industry partners, the system captures waste heat to improve energy efficiency and save money.
- Homeowners and businesses can reduce their electricity usage and demand through a University of Ottawa-developed system. Working with Hydro Ottawa Limited, the researchers created the Grid Edge Active Transactional Demand Response (GREAT-DR) project, which gives users more control and flexibility over the management of their energy, saving money.
- From delivering stock to stores or packages to individual homes, the demand for freight transportation continues to rise, while expected delivery windows narrow. The result is more traffic. The Smart Freight Centre is a collaboration between the University of Toronto, York University, McMaster University, industry and the Peel Region to improve how goods are delivered across the GTHA.
- Aging infrastructure in bridges across North America can be a serious safety issue, costing money and even lives. A Queen’s University research team has developed new technology to test the structural integrity of bridge materials and lead to more efficient and cost-effective designs.
Improving access to health and safety services
- First Nations women in Ontario are approximately twice as likely to get cervical cancer as the mainstream population. Lakehead University researchers have developed a culturally safe self-testing method for Indigenous women to help reduce these high cervical cancer rates through increasing screening in First Nations communities.
- Traditionally northern industries, such as, mining, face a unique set of health and safety issues. The Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH) at Laurentian University is working with employers, safe workplace associations and labour groups in these industries to help solve some of the pressing problems facing these workers.
- In an effort to increase access to resources and improve the quality of life for individuals suffering from dementia and their families, Nipissing University researchers are examining rare forms of the disease and the support systems that exist in rural and remote communities in Ontario.
- For premature babies awaiting a diagnosis, hours could be the difference between life and death.Southlake Regional Health Centre, in collaboration with Ontario Tech University, has developed a real-time predictive analytic tool called Artemis, which helps clinicians diagnose babies in Southlake’s neonatal intensive care unit.
- A paper-based scheduling system at any hospital can be susceptible to clerical errors. This process can be even more exasperated when working to schedule patients who need to be booked over a long period of time for appointments. Two Ryerson University students worked with the Neurovascular Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital to develop an electronic scheduling system that tracks patient appointments, enabling patients to receive the treatment they need on time.
- Smart technologies are making a big difference in the lives of those dealing with severe mental illness. Western University researchers are now bringing these technologies into eight local affordable housing units to allow individuals more autonomy in their ongoing journey towards improved health and well-being.
- Every year, a significant number of first responders are killed or injured attending to roadway emergencies. Many of these casualties can be avoided. York University researchers are partnering with York Regional Police to develop a technology that better equips first responders to detect oncoming vehicles and warn them before a possible collision.
Partnering with cities for a better future
- Undergraduate students at Algoma University are being placed with smaller urban, rural and First Nations communities in northern Ontario to help provide solutions for these communities’ unique challenges. Students are receiving hands-on experience, while partnering with the surrounding community through the Community Economic and Social Development Program.
- An innovative project is helping the Niagara region build climate resilience through efficient and cost-effective collaboration. Niagara Adapts brings together seven municipalities – Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, St. Catharines and Welland – in partnership with Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC).
- When the City of Toronto wanted to more effectively deliver parks and recreation programming to those who used it, OCAD University researchers helped the city distribute its services more efficiently. Researchers illustrated the use of community centres over a five-year span in order to help the City of Toronto determine how to better serve the community.
- Students at Trent University are earning an academic credit and receiving hands-on learning experience, while helping community partners receive real-world solutions to issues they’re facing. Through a partnership with Trent Community Research Centre, approximately 40 student research projects are conducted with community partners every year.
- CityStudio helps both the City of Waterloo and City of Brantford staff find community-specific solutions to their unique issues. The initiative partners Wilfrid Laurier University students with municipal staff, where the most promising ideas can then be pursued through student summer internships or other opportunities.