If I say that Québec is a beautiful city, you will surely agree with me. In fact, readers of Travel and Leisure magazine have once again named it the best city in Canada ahead of Vancouver and Toronto. But if I tell you that Québec is a smart city, you may wonder what I mean and what my claim is based on. Here are some explanations.
What is a smart city?
More and more people are talking about “smart cities” these days. The term refers to cities that aim to improve their attractiveness by reducing their ecological footprint and offering a better quality of life to their residents as well as other users of the city, including travelers. A smart city has a vision of its future and achieves it through better integration of city services and broader involvement by all to make it happen.
In a smart city, everything from land use planning and economic development to mobility management and quality of life enhancement is integrated with a view to achieving this vision of the future. What’s more, in a smart city, everyone—residents, businesses, and organizations alike—is invited to take part in the process.
Lastly, a smart city uses new technologies to collect, process, and interpret data on the city’s environmental, economic, and social health to better understand the behaviors, needs, and aspirations of its residents and achieve its goals.
Québec City, a smart tourist and business city
The City of Québec has identified two priorities for the future: improving residents’ daily lives and boosting its performance as an organization. It wants to achieve this by stimulating innovation and collaborative creation through the participation of city residents and economic stakeholders, all with the help of information technology.
In economic development, the city wishes to create a conducive environment for business initiatives and to support business start-ups, especially in growth sectors where it is already strong, such as technology, science, research, insurance, and financial products. Some projects are likely to enhance Québec City’s attractiveness as a tourist city, such as the development of innovative commercial thoroughfares. Development of these sectors is also likely to help attract events of all kinds (conventions, hackathons, conferences, competitions) involving developers and organizations from here and elsewhere.
Today, a world-class tourist and business destination must be able to count on a robust and efficient technological and physical infrastructure. Networks, bandwidth, fiber optics, optimal traffic management, ecological water and waste treatment—all of this operates quietly in the background without anyone noticing. However, these and many other topics raise challenges on a daily basis because the demand for services to deal with them tends to increase rapidly. What’s more, new infrastructure needs generate not only financial costs, but ecological costs as well, even as the city government tries to reduce its ecological footprint. That’s why authorities support smart, innovative urban development projects that can both effectively serve users and meet a high level of environmental requirements. The creation of eco-neighborhoods and plans for a backbone public transit network are examples of this. Both tourists and residents will benefit.
Another area that often goes unnoticed until disaster strikes is public safety. A smart city may not be able to anticipate how to deal with them. Extreme weather events, public health crises, or industrial accidents require quick and smart interventions to minimize their impacts and to learn to cope with them more effectively in the future. Various projects are under way in this area, including Project K, whose goal is to prepare the public (businesses included) to cope with various disasters.
Québec City among finalists in Canada’s Samrt Cities Challenge
Last June, Québec City proudly announced that Infrastructure Canada had selected it as one of the 20 finalists in the Smart Cities Challenge.
This challenge encourages municipalities to address an issue affecting residents through the development of new partnerships and the use of connected data and technologies.
The City of Québec’s proposal aims to better understand social inequalities in health so that the city can intervene differently. The final proposal is due next winter, and the winners are expected to be announced in Spring 2019. A healthier, more egalitarian city is certainly a good place to be.
A few months ago, I moved to the St-Roch district. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the new shops and businesses there and I’d love to share some of my favorites with you.
If you’re a sausage lover, you’ll want to visit William J. Walter Saucissier on Rue St-Joseph Est to discover all the creativity that goes into over 60 varieties of fresh and smoked sausages. From cheese sausage to wild boar, blueberry, and ice cider sausage and duck and herb sausage, you’re sure to find whatever tickles your fancy. A European sandwich and craft beer can also meet your need for a quick but tasty lunch.
If you’re looking for a truly British pub-style restaurant, I recommend the London Jack for its fish ’n’ chips of course, but also its royal decor! Martinis, keg beer, salads, fish, black pudding, Yorkshire pudding—the selection is wide and the menu original.
Last but not least is my personal favorite: Accro Cuisine et dépendances, still on Rue St-Joseph Est. In fact, I’ve become really dependent on it, as I go there several times a week. I love this shop for its local and imported gourmet products that come in jars and cans, dried, or frozen. If you’re looking for 45 % cream, pickled vegetables, Fauchon pies, specialty pizzas, flavored water, and many other products I could talk about for hours, you’ve come to the right place. There is also a lovely section of kitchen accessories featuring the Ricardo, Trudeau, Revolt, and Émile Henry brands, but also Japanese knives, Mauviel pots, Lagrange waffle makers, La Rochelle dinnerware, and even accessories for creating your own molecular cuisine. A true paradise for lovers of great and beautiful things!