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The Urban Leadership Awards (ULA) Program is an annual initiative of the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) designed to recognize those who have made significant contributions to improving the quality of life in Canada’s cities and urban regions. ULA recipients define the very nature of “leadership” and can be organizations, groups or individuals who demonstrate a calling and a vision, tenacity, creativity, energy and drive. These characteristics, combined with the ability to engage others, are what distinguish ULA recipients.

This program raises funds that support our local and international internship program. Since 1997, the Canadian Urban Institute has offered hands-on learning experiences for 250+ students and recent graduates from across Canada.



The awards program confers two signature awards in honour of two exceptional urbanists:

The Jane Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award is given to a person who has made an extraordinary contribution to the public realm, over many years and in more than one field, thereby gaining reputation and acclaim for their vision, passion, and impact.

The David Crombie Award is given to a person and/or initiatives that provide collaborative solutions to the complex problems facing Canada’s largest urban region – the Greater Golden Horseshoe. As a result of engaging community members with government and private sector partners, the winner of the David Crombie Award supports the repair, regeneration and/or enhancement of the region’s public realm.

In addition, CUI presents awards in the following categories:

City Builder Award: Leader whose bold vision and ability to implement change represents true city building.

NextGen Award: Emerging leader(s) whose work is helping to develop a healthy urban community.

Urban Vitality Award: A project or program that demonstrates excellence in creativity, relationship to context and community spirit.

City Livability: Actions that make our cities more livable from finding new ways and means to improve our healthcare, education and the environment to enhancing public places and spaces and instilling confidence about our personal safety and security

Click here to nominate an individual, group or project for the awards listed above.



Our sponsors are important partners in honouring and celebrating our Urban Leadership Award recipients. Opportunities range from $5,000 to $15,000 and provide many valuable and tangible benefits. Click here to learn more about becoming a sponsor. 


2016 ULAs

On November 21, 2016, we convened nearly 200 senior decision-makers from the municipal, provincial and private sectors as well as academic and institutional leaders and members of the media to celebrate this year's award winners. The event was held at Toronto's beautifully revitalized Great Hall; a fitting backdrop to gather both current and past ULA recipients whose work has established the foundation of urban excellence in Canada. 

Honorees connected with the audience as they shared their experiences, insight and advice through speaking sessions moderated by our Executive Director, Peter Halsall. Themes included "Diversity and Inclusion in City Building" and "The Changing Nature of Philanthropy in City Building". 

The night concluded just as it had begun, with a spoken word piece by Toronto-based poet Troy Elleston.  We were also lucky enough to be joined by artist Adrian Hayles, who created a painting inspired by this year's winners, and How We Live in Cities, who launched their Spot Garden initiative at the event.

Learn about the 2016 award winners.

Read Troy Elleston's poems.