The Orbit – Canada’s ‘city of the future’


A small rural town in Ontario Canada will be transformed into a “city of the future” after winning unanimous approval for its cutting-edge, smart city masterplan, which allows for population growth up to five times its current size

Dinah Lewis Boucher – The Urban Developer

Known as “The Orbit”, and designed by architect Partisans, the proposal will be delivered by developer Cortel Group, in collaboration with the local Innisfil council.

Plans for Innisfil, a town located 60 kilometres north of Canada’s largest city Toronto, incorporates high-density housing, along with retail, office space, and includes commercial, and educational facilities.

The town is home to a current population of 37,000, but this is expected to swell. As a result the council says it is taking ‘proactive measures’ for future growth, with Orbit able to accomodate up to 150,000 new residents.

“We know that most of our population has to commute for employment, which is why much of the Orbit focusses on boosting our local economy, by creating the environment that supports local entrepreneurs and businesses to create more local jobs,” council said of the plan.

▲ Plans for town’s the new $20 million Go station.

The town is known for its progressive initiatives.

It was the first municipality to implement a ride-sharing transit system, striking a deal with Uber instead of implementing a public bus network.

It expects Orbit will help evolve this system by using a crowd-sourced model, powered by autonomous electric vehicles.

▲ Transit-oriented mixed use town: The community is planned in circles around the GO train station, Council says the main objectives of this community is to be green and offer sustainability, with minimal urban sprawl.

While it doesn’t go in to detail, plans also outlay that Orbit will feature a fast, secure fibre-optic network woven throughout the community’s sidewalks, streets, buildings, “designed to support innovation”.

The town says it envisions a community where the small town and rural lifestyles are enhanced by the benefits of urban living.

“Perhaps most important of all, the Orbit allows Innisfil to expand while we preserve our natural and agricultural lands,” Innisfil land-use planning manager Tim Cane said.

“It’s the best of both worlds.”

▲ Plans for the transformation of Innisfil.

The GO Train station will be the centre of the community.

Partisan co-founder Alex Josephson describes the rail line as “like a steel river”, with the required setback from the tracks to be “a linear parkland”.

“Something that is normally ignored becomes an integral asset to the entire community,” the Toronto-based architect said.

Urban sprawl

“Without a doubt, our shared future depends on everyone living closer together,” Josephson said of the design.

A traditional suburban population consuming a 50 kilometre sq m area will instead constitute a 2 kilometre sq m model.

Through design, he says the plan “seamlessly consolidates and reduces sprawl while providing communities with a closer relationship to nature and reducing pressure on infrastructure.”

The development is planned to be built in phases, with the approved train station scheduled for completion in 2022.