Over the last month, we’ve seen the world respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Canada, as in many other parts of the world, we’ve seen the economy shut down while we work from home. As governments provide the much-needed support to people, small businesses and industries to deal with the day-to-day realities of this situation, we’re starting to see calls for re-opening businesses, even in phased approaches, to kick start the economy. The calls for “shovel-ready” projects are already being heard loud and clear.
We still have a housing crisis: people can’t afford their homes and, notwithstanding a collapse in AirBNB rentals, there’s a desperate need to build more affordable housing, and create housing affordability across the country. Some cities have transformed vacant hotels into temporary housing for the homeless while other cities have created temporary respite centres for people who have nowhere else to go. Some cities are sitting on land, waiting for the capital to build desperately needed housing near new and under-construction transit systems.
Long term care centres have been a known crisis for years, with cramped rooms and inadequate numbers of people forced to cohabitate in substandard conditions. Waiting lists for access mean that we don’t have enough capacity, and those who are waiting are filling hospitals.
There are still billions of dollars in backlogged repairs to schools. Cities have growing lists of repairs and upgrades needed to libraries, recreation centres, pools and other community infrastructure.
Underlying each of these is the ever-present reality of climate change. We know that buildings have an enormous impact on society when it comes to energy use and making a difference in climate change. Estimates vary, but the urban environment can account for 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with buildings being 40% of that figure.
Each of these challenges is an opportunity. Architects can make a difference in the lives of people across the country. Here’s how to tap into a potential that has as much as a 14% impact on the Ontario GDP every year: