Toronto City Council voted today to invite the public to make “deputations” to the City Executive on March 19, 2018, about why and how blockchain technology and new cryptocurrencies can be integrated into the way the city does business.
The motion was introduced by Councillor Norm Kelly, who believes that Toronto is already well on the way to being an international innovation hub, and that the use of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies could fast-forward this process.
In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Councillor Kelly said:
“Toronto is a world class city and well placed to be one of the premier innovation centres in the world. We have startups and talented innovators right here that are working on the frontier of the new digital revolution.”
Kelly noted that the city has fallen behind other Canadian jurisdictions in exploring the possibilities opened up by the world of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
“The Ontario and federal governments and some of our banks are already running pilot projects to see what practical applications can come from using blockchain technology,” Kelly said.
Both the provincial and federal governments are exploring putting digital IDs on the blockchain so that each citizen would have only one ID.
The Canadian government’s National Research Council is using the Catena Blockchain Suite, built on the Ethereum blockchain, to make government research grants and funding information more transparent to the public.
“I’d rather be ahead of the wave than behind it,” Kelly said. Among other use cases, Kelly wants the city to consider whether Toronto residents should be able to use cryptocurrencies to pay property taxes, parking tickets, utility bills and land transfer taxes.
“A number of communities like Zug, Switzerland, are already taking cryptocurrencies for payments. Venezuela has its own cryptocurrency and many international charities accept bitcoin,” Kelly noted.
Toronto’s Burgeoning Blockchain Scene
Toronto is already a hotbed of crypto activity with businesses including Decentral and Coinsquare. TrueBit COO Robbie Bent estimates that the Toronto crypto community numbers about 3,000 and is growing rapidly. And the city has literally hundreds of blockchain and cryptocurrency Meetups including a Meetup for Crypto Kids.
Toronto is also home to MaRS, a world-class innovation center that is incubating a number of Bitcoin and blockchain startups.
“Toronto’s Innovation Centre MaRS is a symbol and an example of what can be done when governments partner with business to promote the future growth potential of an innovation economy,” Kelly said.
The Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) is only one of two in the world; the other is in Beijing, China. The BRI, which has been working on possible use cases for Toronto, has already said it will be presenting to the City Executive on March 19.
Toronto Mayor John Tory was instrumental in getting Toronto to join the BRI and agrees with Kelly that Toronto must keep up with a changing world or risk falling behind.