Our ability to learn from one another and to share best practices in community building has often been far easier through a north-south dialogue with our American neighbours, who are within a couple of hundred kilometers, than with our Canadian colleagues spread out across five time zones and 7,000 kilometres. As a result, we end up adapting planning and design solutions generated in the United States that may or may not fit our particular needs in the Canadian urban context.
While each region of Canada has its unique characteristics, it is also true that communities across the country share common approaches to the design and building of places. There is a unique Canadian protocol of how the planning and design process is managed, where growth should go, an understanding of inclusion, and what relationships and partnerships should exist between short- term private needs and longer term public needs. Despite geographical proximity, in many ways Canada has more in common with Australia than with the United States when it comes to managing growth and determining its final form and location.
The need to share information, to learn about exemplary urban design initiatives, and to understand the means and barriers determining what is built led a group of Canadian Planners and Designers to bring forward the idea of an emerging “Canadian Urbanism” and create a new organization called the Council of Canadian Urbanism (CanU).