Larry Beasley, the Co-Director of Planning for the City of Vancouver, is credited for having transformed the downtown core of Vancouver. He created “Vancouverism” or “The Vancouver Model,” a paradigm for urban planning pioneered by the international city. Beasley’s fame in the industry led him to work with influential cities like Abu Dhabi and Dallas to create urban development strategies. In other words, Beasley is a BIG deal, so when he was brought on to develop Brampton’s vision for the city, it represented pretty lofty aspirations.
From September 2017 to May 2018, the planning division of the city worked with Beasley on the #FutureReady campaign, in which 13,000 Bramptonians participated. At every step, Brampton stakeholders were consulted about the future they wanted for the city. Not only was this a decisive move towards progress, but it was also a glamorous exercise of the democratic process.
The Vision contains within it no specific policy proposals or legislative calls to action. Instead, the Vision is simply an expression of the desires of Bramptonians. These desires are expressed in seven target visions statements.
Vision 1: In 2040, Brampton will be a mosaic of sustainable urban places, sitting within an interconnected green park network, with its people as environmental stewards – targeting ‘one-planet’ living.
Vision 2: In 2040, Brampton will be a mosaic of vibrant centers with quality jobs, a rich range of activities, and integrated living.
Vision 3: In 2040, Brampton will be a mosaic of characterful and complete neighbourhoods.
Vision 4: In 2040, Brampton will be a mosaic of safe, integrated transportation choices and new modes, contributing to civic sustainability, and emphasizing walking, cycling, and transit.
Vision 5: In 2040, Brampton will be a rich mosaic of cultures and lifestyles, coexisting with social responsibility, respect, enjoyment, and justice.
Vision 6: In 2040, Brampton will be a mosaic of healthy citizens enjoying physical and mental wellness, fitness, and sports.
Vision 7: In 2040, Brampton will support a mosaic of artistic expression and production.
These goals are lofty but lofty is what is needed in a suburb marred by economic inactivity and lackluster cultural representation. Beasley’s work usually revolves around big cities, but to transform an unassuming post-industrial city like Brampton into a powerhouse of economic activity and cultural prowess is especially daunting. The Vision states, “One of the biggest concerns of the people of Brampton is that more than 60 per cent of working people have to leave the city every day for their jobs. This affects everyone and limits community development and involvement.”
The pathway to realizing most of the goals in this Vision is paved with job creation and investment. Specific proposals, like the eco park and an Uptown, depend on pointed policy proposals and collaboration between innovators and politicians, but the general trajectory of Brampton’s transformation into a sustainable, integrated live-work community rests on the promise of more jobs and job-creators. Population increase alone will not generate enough demand quickly enough to bring about these jobs, evinced by the overwhelming number of people commuting outside of the city for work. Cities with smaller populations, like Kitchener and Waterloo, are producing higher quality jobs, many of which are at the forefront of innovation in Canada, precisely because they attract appropriate investment. A university is a great next step to building this demand for investment in Brampton.
We are seeing the incipience of a “new” Brampton with the decision of a few companies to set up corporate offices in the city. 5 years ago, however, LAB B was prescient enough to invest in Brampton’s innovative destiny. While it is true that LAB B responded to the demands of a community of innovators and makers by providing space to incubate ideas, in many ways, LAB B engendered the nascent development of startup culture in Brampton. At the time, having the foresight to invest in the next generation of job creators was met with resistance and perhaps ridicule, with many not knowing what coworking even was.
Five years later, Brampton prepares to welcome a university and an idyllic vision for the year 2040. LAB B could not be happier that the pipe dreams of the past are now coming to fruition. Brampton has a transformative future ahead of itself.