Themes and Frameworks

In exploring what “A City for All” means, three main themes and two overarching frameworks emerged from a planning workshop and partner meetings held in the spring and summer of 2018. They are:


The social and psychological nature of inclusion

Source: Vancouver Foundation

Belonging refers to the the feelings and attitudes associated with inclusion and exclusion, sharing, thriving with diversity, mutual respect and reconciliation.

Comments from the planning workshop included: a place where you belong; feels like home; trusting; sharing (meals); safe; accepting; reconciliation in action; inter-generational; inclusive (newcomers, gender, race, class, ability, age, ancestry, sexual orientation); friendly; mutuality of respect for differences; and, seeking people out where they are at.


Access to power, resources, governance and decision-making

Image Source: City of Vancouver Women’s Equity Strategy

Equity refers to the distribution of power, access to resources, governance and decision making processes.

Common phrases from the planning workshop included: shared decision-making; co-creation; empowering neighbourhoods (grants); creating the city’s future; engagement (both citizen-to-citizen and citizen-to-city and back); revamping bylaws and policies to allow greater diversity of housing and mobility; voter participation; support for participation by underrepresented groups (child care, transportation, translation); city autonomy vis-à-vis other orders of government; accountability; poverty (welfare rates, homelessness among other issues); and, geographic equity.


Access and the design of the natural and built environment

Source: City of Vancouver

Places and Spaces refers to the design of the natural and built environment, access and mobility.

Comments threads from our planning workshop included: fair distribution of civic, social, educational and health services; access to urban agriculture, arts and culture, and water; transit; safe streets for many modes of transportation; vibrant and inclusive public spaces; diversity of housing options and types; access to affordable housing; incorporating nature, vistas, light, waterways; connecting communities to one another (food); building codes that embrace physical accessibility; distribution of washrooms in public spaces; programming parks and spaces.


In planning with partners for the 2018 Summit on “A City for All”, two cross-cutting  frameworks have emerged: reconciliation, and intersectionality. The following are our initial working definitions of these concepts:

Reconcilation occurs only after a recognition of the truth of the lived experiences of indigenous peoples historically and today. Colonialism has broken trust between indigenous peoples and settlers, and their descendants. Our objective is to engage in a healing process that fosters sustained relationships of mutual respect and understanding with local First Nations and the urban Indigenous community. We wish to learn from the ongoing process undertaken by the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, and from other participatory processes that are building positive relationships of mutual respect.

2017 Walk for Reconciliation. Source: City of Vancouver

Under the umbrella of “A City for All”, we recognize that there is also a need for reconciliation with other groups such as the Japanese community, the black community, Chinese communities, and LGBTQ2S residents who have suffered systemic discrimination. The City of Vancouver and others have initiated similar actions to change the course of these relationships, and to design policies, programs, places, and spaces that are inclusive.

Source: City of Vancouver

Intersectionality is the idea that the overlap of various social identities, such as race, gender, sexuality and social class, contributes to the cumulative systemic oppression and discrimination, or the cumulative advantage, experienced by a person or group. We wish to learn more about how these cumulative impacts can be addressed to improve our social capacity.


Some other overarching ideas raised during the summit planning process are also worthy of note:

  • A City for All moves from ‘being OK/tolerating diversity to thriving, embracing unique differences and assets and seeking others out’.
  • There is a need for ways to move beyond silos of interests of individual departments, advisory boards and sectors to embrace a broader picture of a City for All. On a small-scale food can be a connecting point; growing, selling/buying, cooking, making, sharing and dining together.
  • A city where design, social infrastructure and geography enables and encourages social connection.


Based on the above themes, frameworks, and ideas,  the VCPC has developed the following working definition of “A City for All”:

  • A city where residents feel they belong, where they have have equitable access to decision making processes and resources, and where the design of the natural and built environment reflects their cultural and physical needs and aspirations.