Project Background

The purpose of this project is to: understand the scope, services and impacts provided by co-working spaces in midsized cities (populations of 50 000 to 500 000); explore the roles that allied groups, such as Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, universities and Business Improvement Associations play in supporting local entrepreneurship; and to develop and disseminate best practice recommendations to strengthen co-working as a job-creation strategy in Ontario’s midsized cities. This work was developed between December 2015 and March 2016, by Audrey Jamal and Julia Grady.

AUDREY JAMAL is a PhD Candidate in Urban Planning at the University of Waterloo. Her research focuses specifically on implementation strategies that Ontario’s midsized cities (50,000- 500,000) are using to revitalize their downtowns in the context of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe (2006). More specifically, Audrey is focused on strategies that are being used to attract population and employment growth to eight of the urban growth centres (UGCs) in the outer ring of the Greater Golden Horseshoe. As stand-alone municipalities, with limited ‘spill over’ benefit from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), these eight UGCs provide an exceptional opportunity to undertake real-time research focused on the implementation of the province’s growth plan.

Prior to becoming a researcher, Audrey was the Executive Director of the Downtown Guelph Business Association (BIA). Key achievements include: co-chairing the Downtown Civic Square Committee; rebranding the BIA and expanding outreach to membership; developing the “Small Spaces” grant program; and participating as a key stakeholder in the Downtown Secondary Plan, a process that was undertaken to ensure compliance with the provincial growth plan.

In the community, Audrey has served as a Trustee at the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre and as a Director with the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA). Audrey is a regular commentator on small-city urbanization, and has recently presented research findings on the use of Community Improvement Plans and financial incentives as tools to increase downtown intensification in smaller urban centres at the OGRA/ROMA Combined Conference (February, 2015) and at the Ontario East Municipal Conference (September, 2015).


JULIA GRADY is the Co-Founder of 10 Carden, the City of Guelph’s first and largest coworking space. 10 Carden is a not-for-profit established in 2009. In this capacity she is responsible for managing staff; grant-writing and reporting; developing and strengthening the business plan of 10 Carden; and working with community partners on projects such as the Elevator Project, a project funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF), which matches community benefit ideas with supporters and investors).

As a committed volunteer, Julia was previously very active on the Downtown Guelph Business Association (BIA) as a Director at Large, and engaged as a stakeholder in the design charettes for Downtown Guelph that informed the development of the Downtown Secondary Plan, a foundational document informing growth planning goals in the City of Guelph. She also participated in community engagement around public spaces, including Guelph’s Market Square, and was very involved in strengthening arts activation initiatives including Art on the Street (an annual event) as a means to engage citizens in city life.

From 2005-2008, Julia was also instrumental in the Guelph Civic League which presented “Amazing Possibilities”, a series of three annual conferences and several smaller scale presentations designed to bring leading urban thinkers to Guelph to engage local audiences in growth planning and design. Glen Murray, George Dark, Judy Rebbick, James Kunstler, Dimitrios Roussopoulos and Larry Beasley were amongst the speakers.

Julia is also a founding partner at Barking Dog Studios, a web design and development firm located in Guelph. Her experience as a designer, communicator and big-picture strategist has enabled thousands of successful projects over the past 19 years.