Vaughan’s Smart City Initiatives

A Refresher

In 2016, the City of Vaughan joined the ranks of world-class cities as it was ushered into the World Council on City Data (WCCD). Vaughan was selected to participate in a worldwide platform for city data that can be used in the planning process and decision-making, demonstrating that the City has reached the highest standards in collecting and using research as part of delivering service excellence to residents.

In 2018, Council established the Smart City Advisory Task Force to advance a culture of knowledge and pursue continuous improvement. The task force is made up of Members of Council such as myself being the Vice-Chair, city staff, citizens and accomplished professionals with extensive experience from industries such as environmental sustainability, financial services, and education.

In 2019, City of Vaughan signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with US Ignite to join the organization’s Smart Gigabit Community. Joining the Smart Gigabit Community allows Vaughan to strengthen professional networks, access innovative best practices and improve organizational and technical capabilities.

Since 2010, Vaughan has issued $11 billion in building permits, seen the creation of 60,000 new jobs and averaged an annual economic growth rate of more than four percent. To address this ongoing investment, expansion, and growth, we are actively embracing Smart City technologies.

Task Force Meetings

Under the direction of myself, the Mayor and city staff, along with a group of incredibly talented and educated industry experts and residents, the Task Force explores in-depth discussions and an exchange of ideas to bring forth recommendations to ensure the City is advancing a culture of knowledge and continuous improvements.

We spent a large portion of our first two meetings fine tuning the definition of what being Smart City means for Vaughan, including a fulsome discussion identifying core principles that are needed to establish guidelines for our Smart City projects. Listening to the ideas coming out from this group gives us an assurance that we have the perfect group of community stakeholders to help guide us through this process.

On December 1, 2020, we held our 3rd virtual Smart City Task Force meeting.

We focused on ways the WCCD ISO 37122 Smart Cities Series on City Data supports Vaughan’s Smart City Task Force. Some items on the agenda included:

  • Economy: Percentage of labour force employed in sectors such as Information and Communications, Education, and Research & Development
  • Environment and Climate Change: Percentage of buildings built or refurbished within the last 5 years in conformity with green building principles
  • Urban Growth: Understanding jobs/housing ratio, population and population density, and developing transit infrastructure

I am looking forward to future meetings and discussions. For more information about this and other task forces, please visit


Smart City initiatives are creating enhanced city-building opportunities by improving the way data is collected, understood and utilized. Our goal is to use the information to improve the quality of life for citizens and the delivery of public services. Vaughan is building our Smart City from the ground up. We are identifying citizen needs, bringing together the appropriate stakeholders and focusing on people.

Keeping Vaughan Clean and Safe with Technology

The City of Vaughan has launched a pilot project using Quick Response (QR) Codes to alert staff about full garbage cans in City parks. Residents will be able to scan the code found on the garbage can using their smartphone to notify City staff when it is full and needs to be emptied. Regular waste collection of these bins will continue, but the codes will allow residents to alert the City when additional cleaning is required. These bins – which will be piloted in select parks – will have smaller openings that will help deter animals from getting inside as well as illegal household dumping.

The City of Vaughan continues to take a progressive approach to winter maintenance by becoming the first municipality in Canada to adopt a smart-technology artificial intelligence tool to better allocate resources and reduce salt usage. This tool will ensure the City is applying the right salt, at the right time, in the right amount, in the right place. Using sensors, this tool will take various factors into account – including weather models, Vaughan’s micro-climates, traffic volumes, and road temperatures, moisture and conditions – to inform road winter maintenance decisions. This innovative approach will keep the road network safe, while maintaining fiscal prudence and environmental consciousness.

The Digital Garden

The concept of the Digital Garden will change the way we live, work, play and move around, placing Vaughan citizens at the cutting edge of
transformation. This will cement and cultivate a “One Vaughan” sentiment and make the City of Vaughan one of the most connected and socially cohesive cities.

Some concepts include:

• Wayfinding, directing citizens to the most convenient route and transit
options, and ability to access shared mobility options
• Social media interactions to have up-to-date information on events and what’s happening in the local community and within Vaughan
• Administrative City procedures such as online payments and digital depositions
• Public WiFi for residents and tourists
• Ability to broadcast events
• IoT sensors to gather data on traffic, parking, air quality, etc.
• Comprehensive listing of points of interest, events, nature and trail system, recreational activities and programming

The LaunchPad

The Vaughan LaunchPad will provide an environment and testbed for piloting City and business solutions, and will be the headquarters for Vaughan’s already-approved Test City project. Various aspects of the LaunchPad include:

• Collaborative co-working and incubator space for local entrepreneurs and
• Co-learning space with online classroom capabilities and Singularity
University Campus
• Smart City Expo for citizens to learn about new emerging technologies and
City solutions from around the world
• City engagement space, an interactive place for City staff to discuss city
challenges and issues with citizens using data collected from the Local Gardens (community hotspots), and to get feedback and input on specific strategies and issues
• Test City Headquarters, testbed for piloting City and business solutions

Smart Healthcare

Vaughan was at the 2019 Smart City Summit and Expo in Taipei and took part in the International Smart Health Forum, which engaged participants in innovative technologies to improve the delivery of health services. Healthcare is at the heart of our Smart City efforts. The Ultimate Campaign raised $174-million of the $250-million goal to build the community’s first hospital – the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital.

The City is leading a collaboration to transform an 82-acre parcel of land at Jane Street and Major Mackenzie Drive into the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed in 2019 between the City of Vaughan, York University, Mackenzie Health and ventureLAB to identify transformational opportunities to maximize the best use of lands surrounding the site of the Mackenzie Vaughan Hospital through a feasibility study.

The goal of this unique collaboration is to leverage resources to bring healthcare innovation, entrepreneurship, and jobs to this growing community. This site has the potential to be a place that will connect people, spaces and sectors to become an epicenter of healthcare excellence.

This year, Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital opened its doors, marking the arrival of a new era of healthcare excellence in our city. Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital is Canada’s first smart hospital, with integrated technology that anticipates the needs of patients and health care providers, and identifies health issues before they become serious. Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital operates specialized programs in labour and delivery as well as pediatrics, integrated stroke care and inpatient mental health care.

An extensive range of outpatient clinics, chronic kidney disease care, complex continuing care and rehabilitation will remain at Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital. In addition to full-service emergency departments, critical care, surgery and inpatient medicine units are available at both hospitals.

Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital and Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital work in tandem with Mackenzie Health’s community-based locations to provide increased access to state-of-the-art health care closer to home for the residents of western York Region and beyond. 

Smart Network

Since the onset of the pandemic last March, the City of Vaughan has developed more than 125 innovations and process improvements to allow programs and services to be delivered virtually. From launching an online building permit portal and being the first in Ontario to offer a library curbside pick-up program, to running virtual Council meetings and public hearings – we continue seeking new ways to improve services and make them more accessible. The pandemic experience has taught us that by being flexible, innovative and focused, success can be achieved.

To help maintain Vaughan’s economy, the City’s Development Engineering department implemented a new online portal tool that accepts, reviews and approves development applications electronically. The portal allows users to apply and pay for grading and pool permits, including posting securities online. In total, more than 1,000 permits valued at $327 million were issued from Jan. 1 to May 31, 2020, and nearly 20,000 inspections have also taken place, well exceeding the number of inspections for 2019, 2018 and 2017 during that same period.

Empowerment and Opportunity

Activate!Vaughan is a new innovation program that connects high-potential entrepreneurs to market-driven entrepreneurship opportunities and mentorship from industry leaders. The City of Vaughan will deliver five Activate!Vaughan pitch challenges from 2019 to 2021, each focused on a specific opportunity for innovation.

  1. Environmental Sustainability | November 2019
  2. Health | Fall 2020
  3. Smart City | Fall 2020
  4. Transportation & Mobility | Spring 2021
  5. Community Safety | Fall 2021

Each challenge will award selected ventures with $5,000 in provincial grant funding each, plus participation in the Activate!Vaughan Commercialization program which includes advisory services, targeted workshops and mentorship to grow their ventures.

Next steps…

Smart Business

The City’s 2019 Budget and 2020-2022 Financial Plan includes approval for a new Smart City study. Over the next year, a Smart City business plan will be developed, which includes a strategic roadmap and governance structure that is both accountable and transparent. A dedicated team is identifying opportunities and establishing partnerships with stakeholders both in Canada and around the world.

World Council City Data

Vaughan became the second municipality in Canada to be World Council on City Data (WCCD) ISO 37120 Platinum Certified and will be the one of the first cities to pilot the new Smart Cities standard ISO 37122. The WCCD is the global leader in standardized city data that helps create smart, sustainable, resilient and prosperous cities.

As a member of the WCCD, the City of Vaughan is helping to spearhead and lead the efforts on open data. The City of Vaughan has engaged in international benchmarking to identify common issues and themes, to learn and share best practices with cities globally and to increase economic development.

The City of Vaughan will be participating in the WCCD’s Global Cities RegistryTM for Smart City ISO 37122 Certification through the collection of 80 globally standardized indicators.

Task Force Meetings in 2021

Get involved by attending a virtual Smart City Task Force meeting.  If you would like to speak on a matter on a task force agenda, you may do so. Learn more about speaking to Council.

Scheduled meetings for 2021:

Friday, March 5, 2021 @ 9:00 a.m.
Wednesday, April 21, 2021 @ 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 @ 8:30 a.m.
September 14, 2021 @ 9:00 a.m.