Multimodal Transportation Planning for the Greater Golden Horseshoe

What will the Greater Golden Horseshoe region look like in 2071?

Scope of work

  • Research
  • Engagement
  • Horizon Scan
  • System maps
  • Foresight Workshops
  • Scenario Planning

Southern Ontario is a rapidly growing region. The provincial government has adopted an aggressive intensification strategy in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and forestall climate change impacts. In light of this, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) commissioned an innovative approach to long-term transportation and land use planning: A provocative fifty-year forward foresight exploration.

We helped them move to resilient thinking through the exploration of multiple future scenarios, built on deep research of emerging change signals and broad participatory involvement of thought leaders and regional stakeholders. Rather than projecting forward solely using quantitative data and forecasting potential technological advancements, we crafted comprehensive narratives layered onto an adaptation of the Manoa School’s Generic Alternative Futures, as seen through the experience of imagined personas.

Tangible Futures

For each narrative, we explored the complex dynamics of different interactions of economic activity (what is traded & how, who works doing what, and the trajectory of growth or decline), as well as societal characteristics (open, controlled societies, employment, philosophies of life) and environmental conditions (climate change conquered, mitigated, or environmental collapse). By tangibly expressing the futures in this way, we helped participants to geographically map how land would be used (where people lived, locations of employment, agricultural activity, etc.) and the transportation networks that would be necessary to support each imagined world. 

Using the various trajectories, this exploration enabled planners to craft a preferred and aspirational vision for sustainable transportation in the region to the year 2071.