INTERACT launched in 2017 and since then, a lot has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up life in cities, and shaken up our research as a result. The pandemic has shown us that cities can and must change rapidly, and need locally-relevant evidence to guide these efforts now more than ever.

In January 2021, we hosted a virtual summit that brought INTERACT’s community of researchers, trainees, and knowledge users together to showcase what we had learned and accomplished; discover the shifting needs, opportunities, and challenges of our local city partners; and strategize goals and priorities for our research and knowledge mobilization efforts in 2021. These sessions informed INTERACT’s focus areas for the next five years,  emphasizing the greater policy context of built environment interventions, where and for whom interventions are implemented, and ways to better disseminate local findings nationally. 

Local Knowledge Mobilization Sessions


The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system will help Saskatoon Transit accommodate the city’s
expected growth while making transit a more attractive option for all. Saskatoon’s BRT system
will concentrate service along high frequency routes, and redesign local feeder routes in 2025. As the City of Saskatoon implements BRT, we heard from staff that concerns around ensuring the system serves those who need it most while accounting for changes in commuting patterns are front of mind.

Local Knowledge Mobilization Sessions


The Arbutus Greenway is a popular and well-used walking and cycling path in Vancouver. The city highlights how the Greenway has encouraged people to rediscover public life, fostered social inclusion through universal design, improved non-motorized connections across surrounding neighbourhoods. While the City has been shifting its priorities in response to the pandemic, it has also underscored how important walking and biking paths are to people’s well-being. In response, INTERACT explored widening its focus from the Arbtus corridor to the larger Vancouver Greenways program. As we move forward, we’ll be looking for answers to this bigger question: How do we operationalize equity across our various projects?

Local Knowledge Mobilization Sessions


Victoria’s vision for the AAA Bike Network is to provide clean, seamless cycling options that connect schools/parks/employment destinations for everyone, with a goal of having 95% of the municipality within 500 m of a cycling route. The focus is currently on the integration of active transportation, social connection and resiliency, and on supporting children, women, lower income folks, shift workers and occasional bikers in accessing the network. The larger challenges of 2020 have brought uncertainties: reduced travel downtown for work, shopping, or cultural institutions, and reductions to city budgets.

Local Knowledge Mobilization Sessions


Montreal’s Climate Plan aims to make the city more resilient, inclusive and carbon neutral. The plan focuses on mobilization towards ecological transition, mobility and urban planning with an emphasis on vulnerable populations, resilience and affordability. The notion of “social equity” spans all axes. Although COVID delayed its release, it allowed staff to refine elements relating to public health and resilience. Drawing lessons from the Sustainable Montreal Plan, the Climate Plan proposes more specific actions and has chosen more meaningful targets for citizens. Following its release, city staff and the local research team are focused on mapping Montrealers’ acessibility to transportation, employment, services and city amenities, and developing urban resilice and climate equity indicators.

National Summit

National Research Team Summit

Drawing from lessons from our local sessions, the summit brought our national research team together to reconnect around the state of the research program and share ideas and inspiration for increasing the outputs, impact, and sustainability of INTERACT’s research going forward. 

We connected around local realities, and strategized on how to adapt our current analysis plans in light of the pandemic context and our city partner’s changing needs. These discussions served to prepare INTERACT’s future focus areas.