Research and Innovation Symposium 2024 Agenda

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Virtual participants, please be advised that activation of webinar links may be delayed by a few minutes to align with in-person activities. Thank you for your understanding!


Thursday, June 20, 2024

8:30 to 9:00 am Pre-event networking & check-in
9:00 to
9:10 am
Welcoming remarks
9:10 to
10:00 am
Keynote Address - Opportunities for innovation in construction: The use of offsite and modular construction to assist in solving our current housing and infrastructure challenges

Craig Mitchell, Principal, Blackbox Offsite Solutions and Project Development of 720 Solutions


Craig will speak about the human and individual aspects of what each of us can do to lead by example and embrace innovation - especially if using offsite/modular construction. What is modular construction? What are the current barriers and enables to its broader adoption in Canada? How can we deliver more effective housing and infrastructure projects using these approaches? Craig will conclude by discussing some entities in Canada who are leading by example in their use of modular and prefabricated construction.

10:10 to 10:20 am Health Break
10:20 to
11:10 am
Build Better Panel 1 - Next generation materials: a conversation at the intersection of innovation and implementation

Moderator: Dr. Matti Siemiatycki, Professor, Geography and Planning; Director, Infrastructure Institute, University of Toronto


  • Joe Hicken, Vice President, Business Development and Policy, Sublime Systems
  • Natalie Telewiak, Principal, Michael Green Architecture
  • Denisa Ionescu, Senior Manager, Technical Research and Education at BC Housing

    Description: This session features leading experts on innovation in building methods or materials to develop more affordable, sustainable, and durable housing and infrastructure. From mass timber and sustainable concrete to offsite and modular construction: what’s next for these options in Canada
  • 11:10 am to 12:40 pm Lunch Break & Research Showcase

    In-person attendees are invited take a tour of the room to engage with representatives of research projects funded through the first phase of the Research and Knowledge Initiative, as well as those led by various INFC divisions and CIB and serve themselves lunch within the same room.

    12:40 to 1:40 pm Build Better Panel 2 - Engaging community and building better

    Moderator: Sabine Dietz , Executive Director, CLIMAtlantic


  • Dale Booth, Owner and President, Innovation Seven
  • Gregory Spencer, Director of Research, Canadian Urban Institute
  • Franck Murat, Expertise Director, BIM One

    Description: This session brings together experts to discuss how best to implement innovative construction practices and community engagement into housing and community development. How can we improve the project planning and development processes and the impact of the construction sector on communities?
  • 1:40 to 1:50 pm Health Break
    1:50 to
    2:40 pm
    Concurrent Workshops
    Build Better, Plenary Workshop - Single Stair Alternative Solutions: Construction Innovation for Missing Middle Housing

    Conrad Speckert, Architect, LGA Architectural Partners


    In Canada, multi-unit residential buildings require at least 2 exits for safety. However, international examples show that with extra fire protection features, buildings can be safely designed with a single staircase. This approach supports "missing middle" housing, maximizing land use on smaller properties while improving sustainability and design flexibility. Single-stair design can also allow for more natural light, fresh air and more accessible and family-friendly homes.

    As part of the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge, LGA is collaborating with 10 other architects across Canada to scale, replicate and adapt the single-stair solution for different cities and types of small multi-unit residential buildings and has submitted a code change request to the National Building Code of Canada.

    Build Better, Workshop 1 - Reconciliation in Action – Infrastructure Projects: is it Working?

    Jamey Burr, Senior Consultant, Innovation7

    Jonathan Kipling, Consultant, Innovation7


    Jonathan Kipling and Jamey Burr, from the Indigenous-owned company Innovation 7, will discuss recent experiences in working with Indigenous communities, all levels of government and the private sector to make progress on the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. They will describe the journey from policy to program delivery and implementation, commenting on obstacles and opportunities to ensure that Indigenous people benefit in many ways from infrastructure projects.

    They will share what changes in behaviour are needed to address challenges like engagement fatigue, barriers to accessing project benefits, ineffective communications collateral, and connecting to Indigenous people in urban areas.

    Jonathan and Jamey will share examples of new engagement methods and media that are making a difference in bringing a strong and creative Indigenous voice to the fore.

    Build Better, Workshop 2 - Digital twins and data for community scale decarbonization - a New York/Montreal dialogue

    Dr. Ursula Eicker, Professor Building, Civil, and Environmental Engineering, Concordia University

    Oriol Gavaldà, Lead Zero Carbon Communities, Next-Generation Cities Institute, Concordia University

    Honey Berk, Executive Director, CUNY Building Performance Lab

    Duncan Prahl, Senior Applied Research Scientist, CUNY Building Performance Lab


    A discussion about analysis using digital twins and building data on a mass scale to help municipalities plan and implement decarbonization strategies and policies. Analysis can be accomplished at the city or neighborhood scale, on individual or portfolios of buildings, or at the individual mechanical plant or system level. This session with provide high level overview of the tools and analysis that can be used for different purposes as municipalities explore decarbonization policies and projects.

    2:40 to
    2:50 pm
    Health Break
    2:50 to
    3:50 pm
    Design Better Panel 1 - Data driven approaches to designing better communities

    Moderator: Maya Roy, CEO of Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism (CILAR)


    • Dr. Craig Jones, Associate Director, Housing Research Collaborative, The University of British Columbia
    • Dr. Kofi Hope, Co-Founder, Monumental; Urbanist in Residence, University of Toronto School of Cities
    • Zahra Ebrahim, Co-Founder, Monumental; Urbanist in Residence, University of Toronto School of Cities


    How do we best connect data on what communities need with policy? This session will discuss innovations in multi-stakeholder dialogue and data mapping for innovative community design, with a focus on accessibility, community wellbeing, outreach and resilient infrastructure.  

    3:50 to 4:00 pm Health Break
    4:00 to
    4:50 pm
    Closing Keynote Address - Talk this way: A Dialogue on Public Hearing Prohibition, Engagement and Assembly Alternatives.

    Amina Yasin, Director of Public Hearings and Planning at Simon Fraser University – Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Renovate the Public Hearing Program and is a Fellow in urban planning, civic engagement, and housing, as well as Co-Chair Commissioner of the Vancouver City Planning Commission.


    Public hearings have recently come under scrutiny due to the housing crisis. In fact, some provinces like B.C. have moved towards a prohibition on public hearings. In this interactive session learn from the findings of the Renovate the Public Hearing Initiative, a $2.5 million CMHC-funded program led by Amina Yasin, Director of Planning and Public Hearings at Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue that has spent the last two years researching, piloting and evaluating alternatives to public hearings and innovative approaches to public participation in land use planning. This session will delve into the question of ‘what’s the big deal with land use public hearings and what comes after prohibition?’ Come prepared to participate, possibly engage in some deliberative activities and learn more about evidence-based solutions that tackle inequity and increase inclusion, reduce risk in pre-development, and enhance democratic resilience, ranging from procedural changes within public hearings to robust models of upstream engagement such as mini-publics, including B.C and Canada’s first Residents’ Assembly tied to an Official Community Plan and the future of digital engagement platforms.

    4:50 to 4:55 pm Closing Remarks
    5:00 to
    8:00 pm
    Off-Site Networking

    Friday, June 21, 2024

    8:30 to
    9:00 am
    Pre-event networking & In-person check-in
    9:00 to
    9:10 am
    Day 2 opening remarks
    9:10 to
    10:10 am
    Design Better Panel 2 - Practical partnerships for future communities

    Moderator: Mary Rowe, President and CEO, Canadian Urban Institute



    How can evidence-based advice and practical partnerships help develop sustainable and resilient communities? This session gathers leaders from key organizations providing community-led training, and facilitating practical partnerships, to connect evidence on housing and infrastructure needs with decision-makers on the ground.

    10:10 to 10:20 am Health Break
    10:20 to
    11:10 am
    Concurrent Workshops
    Design Better, Plenary Workshop - 3D Printed Homes: A Revolutionary and Disruptive Construction Method

    Ian Arthur, Co-Founder and Head of Partnerships, Nidus3d

    Fiona Coughlin, CEO/Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex

    Dr. Sreekanta Das, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Windsor


    The workshop will discuss the advancements in 3D construction printing, featuring insights from Canada's first-ever 3D printed housing project, which will cover both successes and challenges. Innovative international projects will be highlighted to showcase the technology's potential to improve design flexibility and operational efficiency. Current research on the structural strength, ductility, and weather resilience of 3D printed buildings will also be reviewed. The session will conclude with Dr. Das discussing the importance of ongoing research to enhance the technology's cost-effectiveness, environmental sustainability, and acceptance among various stakeholders.

    Design Better, Workshop 1 - R&D for transformative social infrastructure

    Natalie Napier, Research & Storytelling Lead, InWithForward

    Rochelle Nieuwenhuis, Community Co-Researcher, InWithForward


    This presentation asks what good social infrastructure does and how it can intervene on seemingly intractable patterns of social exclusion and disconnection, by drawing on two prototypes developed by InWithForward in partnership with the City of Edmonton. Learn about how "Auricle" and "Soloss" are forms of social infrastructure that enable residents to listen to each other, and make sense of their experiences in ways that foster trust, respect, belonging, and ultimately, wellbeing. Consider how governments can invest in the conditions for R&D in social infrastructure.

    Design Better, Workshop 2 - Data-Driven Decision-Making & Analytics in the Community Housing Sector

    T'Brenn Kelly-McKinnon, Director of Fund Delivery & Impact, BC Rental Protection Fund


    A workshop on BC’s Rental Protection Fund, a groundbreaking initiative supporting the community housing sector in acquiring existing, deeply affordable rental buildings, addressing a critical gap in housing policy – the erosion of affordability in the private rental market. The Fund has developed a suite of data-driven Business Intelligence tools, mapping platforms and real-time analytics dashboards to monitor key performance indicators for both internal and external use. The Fund will preview its Strategic Housing Acquisition Resource Platform (SHARP) which is a cloud-based mapping application designed to help non-profit applicants identify strategic and impactful acquisitions through the Fund. SHARP leverages a robust data library of government-owned and community housing sector properties to provide location-based insights in addition to real estate inventory and transaction data.

    11:10 to
    11:20 am
    Health Break
    11:20 am to 12:10 pm Keynote Address - The cognitive neuroscience of residential design Dr. Colin Ellard, Professor, University of Waterloo

    In a time of seismic societal change, the meaning of home is undergoing transformation. But though traditional residential designs are becoming increasingly unattainable for many, our core psychological requirements from home remain unchanged and are written deeply into our biology. Our thoughts feelings and behaviour are so strongly conditioned by psychological reference to home that true homelessness is almost impossible. But the nature of home and its impact on wellbeing can vary enormously. In my presentation, I will describe some of the neural underpinnings of home and place attachment and the way the design of the places where we dwell can influence attachment and thereby promote wellbeing. I will describe the development of recent methods in cognitive neuroscience and environmental psychology that allow measurement of the impact of design variables, including sensory properties like size, shape and texture and functional properties that promote our feeling of agency. I will conclude my presentation with some recommendations for key principles from neuroscience and that could guide the development of housing policy for these challenging times.

    12:10 to
    12:55 pm
    Lunch Break
    12:55 to
    1:55 pm
    Finance Better Panel 1 - Scaling community-centric financing solutions for affordable housing

    Moderator: James McKellar, Professor of Real Estate and Infrastructure, Schulich School of Business, York University


    • Katie Maslechko, Chief Executive Officer, BC Rental Protection Fund
    • Suzanne Faiza, Knowledge and Partnerships Lead, Tapestry community Capital
    • Jeanhy Shim, President and CEO, Crosswalk Communities


    The considerable magnitude of the Canadian housing crisis can be daunting and leave stakeholders of all varieties, from government actors, developers, lenders, not-for-profits, and everyday citizens asking themselves “what can be done to preserve and increase the supply of affordable housing?” This session contributes to that conversation by taking a closer look at non-traditional financing models for affordable housing that adopt a community-centric lens, provide enticing business cases for non-government actors to invest, and emphasize tangible solutions that can contribute to improving the affordable housing supply in the immediate term, as well as for future generations to come. Join this knowledgeable panel of speakers as they advocate to strengthen and scale innovative financing solutions such as community bonds, rental protection funds, and others that harness the power of social impact capital.

    1:55 to 2:05 pm Health Break
    2:05 to
    2:55 pm
    Concurrent Workshops
    Finance Better, Plenary Workshop - Developing a Successful Canadian Rent Bank Model for Eviction Prevention: International lessons in promising practices

    Alison Smith, Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Toronto Mississauga

    Hannah Brais, Research Coordinator, Old Brewery Mission Montreal

    Dr. Jayne Malenfant, McGill University


    In the landscape of homelessness prevention in Canada and internationally, eviction prevention is recognized as an important emergency-level strategy for keeping financially precarious households from losing their dwelling. Despite their role in eviction prevention, there has been little comparative research to better understand how different models of rent banks, or emergency rental assistance programs, function and to assess their ability to keep households stably housed.

    Through over 30 semi-structured interviews with service providers in USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK, we present an international evidence base for promising practices in emergency rental assistance. We discuss their respective political contexts; their perceived effectiveness; possibilities for innovation; and discuss how rent banks fit within a broader homelessness prevention typology.

    Finance Better, Workshop 1 - Supporting renters effectively: unpacking the Canada Housing Benefit.

    Dr. Catherine Leviten-Reid, Associate Professor, Community Economic Development, Cape Breton University


    In this session, I present a case study of the CHB as implemented in Nova Scotia, using the framework of adequate housing to do so. Based on interviews with tenants receiving the CHB and front-line housing workers, I find that tenants continue to struggle with housing affordability and may live in housing in need of major repair. I conclude by sharing recommendations for reforms to both the CHB and rental housing markets to ensure the CHB adheres to the right to adequate housing.

    Finance Better, Workshop 2 - The Nuts and Bolts of BC Builds - BC's New Housing Program to Build Housing on Public Land

    Lisa Helps, Executive Lead, BC Builds Project Origination and Process Innovation, BC Housing


    This workshop will provide information on the BC Builds Program and the funding, financing and partnership based approach to building housing on government, community and non-profit owned land.

    2:55 to
    3:05 pm
    Health Break
    3:05 to
    4:05 pm
    Finance Better Panel 2 - Catch Me If You Can: Sustainable funding and financing strategies to close the infrastructure gap

    Moderator: Lisa Mitchell, President and CEO, Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships


    • Dr. Marco Chitti, Research Fellow, NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management; Postdoctoral Researcher, McGill University
    • Dr. Adam Found, Metropolitan City Fellow, C.D. Howe Institute and sessional lecturer in Economics at Trent University
    • Karen Shlesinger, Director, Sustainable Infrastructure Fellowship Program, Schulich School of Business, York University
    • Steven Robins, Head of Strategy, Canada Infrastructure Bank (“CIB”)


    This session will bring together experts from the infrastructure sector to unpack the challenges and opportunities associated with innovative funding and financing solutions for public infrastructure in the long run. Key topics include public-private partnerships, public transit costs and funding, development charges, and alternative infrastructure finance modeling.

    4:05 to
    4:15 pm
    Closing Remarks

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