Institute without Boundaries

Markham Meet COLAB: How Does COLAB work?


The Town of Markham is an essential client partner for COLAB. Although COLAB is an independent agency, it works closely with the municipality to find innovative ways to help the town achieve its sustainability objectives. Markham’s investment in COLAB will take three forms: financial support, information and resource support, and access to space. In addition to contributing financially, the Town of Markham will support COLAB by fostering a culture of openness and cooperation with the agency, consulting with COLAB in the official planning process and providing COLAB with access to staff. This close relationship between COLAB and the municipality will be supported by COLAB’s proximity to leaders and decision makers, being located physically in the Civic Centre.

In exchange for this support, Markham will have access to an in-house consultancy dedicated exclusively to helping Markham achieve design innovation. COLAB meets a need that Markham has identified in its own strategic planning documents: the Green Print Sustainability Plan in particular makes a number of recommendations to support the implementation of its sustainability objectives that COLAB meets directly. These include coordinating project management of cross-departmental initiatives, embracing experimentation through pilot projects and leveraging partnerships with the private sector and community. Municipal staff will benefit directly by having a dedicated space where they can dream big and propose visionary ideas and pick up new skills in the design-thinking process that can be used to support their own work.

Private Sectors

The private sector will be a key partner in assisting COLAB to fulfill its mandate to help Markham achieve innovation in sustainability. The private sector can support COLAB in a number of ways, including providing staff with specialized knowledge and technical skills, supporting pilot projects with financial and material donations, and offering expert market advice that will be crucial to ensuringthe viability of COLAB initiatives. Markham is one of Canada’s leading hubs for high technology business. An impressive group of information and communications technology companies, both large and small, have chosen to locate their offices in Markham. These companies have the resources and the wherewithal
to get involved in the kinds of projects that COLAB will undertake.

By supporting COLAB in its mission to help Markham achieve sustainability targets, the private sector will benefit from the creation of favourable conditions for increased growth and commercial activity in Markham. Furthermore, by supporting COLAB with intellectual capital that may lead to innovative sustainable services
and technologies, the private sector stands to benefit from the creation
of new market opportunities. Joining community members on projects that contribute to quality of life and healthy living is an excellent way for businesses to meet their corporate social responsibility targets in a meaningful way. By engaging with COLAB in the creative design-thinking process, business leaders can acquire new ways of problem solving and creating innovation that can be brought back to their own companies.


Citizens support he COLAB process by contributing their expert knowledge, and volunteering their time to help execute projects. This knowledge is invaluable, as it is the citizens of Markham who live, work and play in the city and bring an intimate and intuitive knowledge of its quirks, charms and challenges. Residents often have the most visionary ideas for the future of their communities. In addition to their deep knowledge of Markham, these citizens are also a pool of talented and well-educated professionals, capable of contributing insights and skills to the projects they work on.
By working with COLAB, citizens are able to help shape and direct Markham’s future in a tangible way. COLAB’s projects also help citizens build capacity by helping them understand the municipal process and allowing them to build skills. Markham is already seeking to forge meaningful connections with its citizens, and engage them in the planning process. COLAB has a strong focus on citizen engagement and can help Markham achieve this. By facilitating relationships between citizens and the municipality, and engaging them in real world projects, COLAB helps citizens feel empowered to effect change in their world.

This is an article from COLAB, the final project of students from the 2011/2012 academic year. To see all the posts related to the project go here. To see a summary of the project go here.
Sign-Up for our Newsletters
Follow Us
About the IWB

The Institute without Boundaries is a Toronto-based studio that works towards collaborative design action and seeks to achieve social, ecological and economic innovation. To learn more click here.

George Brown College
©2011 George Brown College
Ontario Student Assistance Program
Scroll to Top