Vancouver, Montreal, Waterloo among 20 finalists for Smart Cities Challenge

Two of Canada’s three largest cities are among the finalists for Infrastructure Canada’s Smart Cities Challenge – and they aren’t alone.

Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi announced the Challenge’s 20 finalists, five for each of the Challenge’s four prizes, on Friday.

Vancouver; Edmonton; Montreal; Quebec City; and Waterloo, Ontario; will compete for the largest prize, worth $50 million, while other well-known communities that made the cut include Saskatoon; Victoria, B.C., and Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The cities of Toronto, Ottawa, and Halifax were noticeably absent from the list.

“I am proud to see all the effort that communities have put into engaging with residents and in developing their Smart Cities Challenge proposals,” Sohit said in a June 1 statement. “I challenged community leaders to be bold and think outside-the-box, and I am pleased to see that they answered the call through the innovative ideas they submitted.”

“These new ideas will result in positive outcomes for Canada’s middle class and improve people’s quality of life,” his statement continued. “I am thrilled at the meaningful, lasting and positive outcomes that this Challenge has already created for communities thus far, and look forward to seeing the final proposals.”

More than 200 communities participated in the Challenge, which kicked off last June with the goal of helping Canada’s municipalities optimize part of their services through digital transformation.

In a February interview with, Smart Cities Challenge team Director General Gerard Peets emphasized that Infrastructure Canada did not consider the $50 million Vancouver and Montreal will be competing for the “grand” prize, since it wanted communities of all sizes to benefit from digital transformation.

To that end, the Challenge encouraged communities across the country to apply for one of four prizes: one $50 million prize for municipalities of any population; two $10 million prizes for municipalities with populations of up to 500,000; and one $5 million prize for municipalities with populations of up to 30,000.

Each of the 20 finalists will now receive a $250,000 grant from Infrastructure Canada to develop their challenge statements – smart city projects ranging from the City of Montreal’s proposal to innovate access to food to the City of Airdrie, Alberta’s goal of becoming Canada’s healthiest community – into final proposals outlining all design, planning, privacy, data protection, and project management components of their plans, with the four winners scheduled to be announced in spring 2019.

The list of 20 finalists is below. You can find out more about their proposals here.

  • Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation, Ontario ($5 million prize)
  • Bridgewater, Nova Scotia ($5 million prize)
  • Cree Nation of Eastmain, Quebec ($5 million prize)
  • Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, Quebec ($5 million prize)
  • Yellowknife, Northwest Territories ($5 million prize)
  • Airdrie and Area, Alberta ($10 million prize)
  • Communities of Nunavut, Nunavut ($10 million prize)
  • Côte Saint-Luc, Quebec ($10 million prize)
  • Greater Victoria, British Columbia ($10 million prize)
  • Guelph and Wellington County, Ontario ($10 million prize)
  • Parkland, Brazeau, Lac Ste Anne and Yellowhead Counties, Alberta ($10 million prize)
  • Richmond, British Columbia ($10 million prize)
  • Saint Mary’s First Nation and Fredericton, New Brunswick ($10 million prize)
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan ($10 million prize)
  • The Pas, Opaskwayak Cree Nation, and Kelsey, Manitoba ($10 million prize)
  • Edmonton, Alberta ($50 million prize)
  • Montreal, Quebec ($50 million prize)
  • Quebec City, Quebec ($50 million prize)
  • Region of Waterloo, Ontario ($50 million prize)
  • Vancouver and Surrey, British Columbia ($50 million prize)

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Eric Emin Wood
Eric Emin Wood
Former editor of turned consultant with public relations firm Porter Novelli. When not writing for the tech industry enjoys photography, movies, travelling, the Oxford comma, and will talk your ear off about animation if you give him an opening.

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