Roundtable 19: Mixed Table

Overview

This was a mixed table discussion focused on A City For All and made up of participants as individuals or organizations that, due to the large number of registrants, were not able to be accommodated at other tables. This afforded the table an opportunity to consider the creation of a City for All from multiple perspectives.

Photo from City of Vancouver collection.

Roundtable Discussion

There were seven participants including students, academics, planners, and people working with the private sector and community-based organizations at this roundtable, as well as the the table facilitator Anthony Perl and notetaker Penny Bain.

As this was a mixed table, a number of subjects were covered. The Social Determinants of Health were a major theme of discussion, in particular the relationship between housing type and health. The lack of diversity of housing types and affordability were common concerns. We are becoming a city for the rich, forcing out the lower and middle class. The value of cooperative housing models was identified as contributing to inclusiveness (lower incomes subsidized by higher incomes) and equity (by giving residents more control over their decision making structures). Anhart Community Housing was seen as a positive alternate model of providing capital for affordable housing.

Participation and community engagement was another theme, particularly related to youth, members of the LGBTQ2+ communities, and residents who do not speak English easily.

The use of advisory committees to the City was seen as very important to bringing a wider range of views before Council. However, fear was expressed that such groups may not be continued.

The Park Board’s process to decolonize itself was presented, including the move to rename places and what it means to give Indigenous people the power.

Questions raised included: Who are the important voices? What process will include quieter voices i.e. those with less power? How can those engagement processes be made more stable?

Key Findings

A City for All is a healthy city and Vancouver cannot be healthy if it is not an inclusive city.

Roundtable 19
  • Housing affordability is a key determinant of health.
  • We can’t be a healthy city unless we address determinants of health such as social isolation. A City for All is a healthy city and cannot be a healthy city if it is not an inclusive city.
  • We need to plan for the impact of climate change on the livability of the city.
  • Diversity and inclusion means more resilience and creates a more aware, fun and vibrant city.
  • Planning/consultations should include those with less power and support more robust community engagement.
  • We need to include a less formal mode e.g. ‘kitchen table’ model for community consultation. Need to consult not only with people who use services but with people who do not (e.g. Translink- talk to people who do not use transit). We need to ask people who do not feel at home in Vancouver what it would take to change that.
  • We need to look beyond government- based services. Distrust for models that only include those with power.
  • A process for intergenerational living e.g. encouraging students to live with seniors as in the Dutch example, has promise.
  • We need to build the capacity of youth to represent themselves in decision making fora, and include them in planning.
  • There is a need to address declining life expectancy due to the opiate crisis.
  • Affordable housing is essential for new immigrants. When housing is not affordable, visible minorities move elsewhere, taking their culture with them, hence making Vancouver less culturally diverse.

Recommendations

  • Provide easier ways for community voices to be expressed to decision makers.
  • Continue the Advisory Committees (such as the LGBTQ and 2 Spirited Committee) and ensure that the experience, community relationships, and learning from the committees are not lost.
  • Address the continuity of membership of city advisory committees, vary the terms of appointments and do not change the entire membership when Council changes.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to improve affordability of living in Vancouver and thereby allow people to stay in the city – e.g. childcare, affordable housing, support to livable wage initiatives.
  • Build diversity and equity into community engagement strategies, ie. decolonizing the City consultation and decision-making processes.
  • Housing is essential to health and therefore the City should endorse a right to housing.

Related Initiatives

Anhart Community Housing Society is a privately funded non-profit society committed to alleviating poverty through housing, health, education, and social enterprise nationally and internationally. In Canada, Anhart is committed to preventing homelessness, by focusing on affordable housing for people with household incomes between $8,000 and $40,000. It builds affordable housing with the help of social impact investors.

The Vancouver Park Board has developed a process to begin the decolonization of the Board. As part of that process, it passed a motion to recognize traditional Indigenous place names for the city’s parks and beaches.

The Co-operative Housing Federation of BC (CHF BC) is made up of member housing co-ops and associated organizations across British Columbia. Areas of interest include better youth engagement and the health implications of housing.

The Youth Collaborative for Chinatown advocates for public space in Chinatown. Memorial Plaza on Columbia and Keefer was not well designed for local use. They worked on a conceptual redesign of the space to make it more useable – street closure and popup redesign engagement – and produced a report and recommendations for the City and Park Board.

Our Place (Promoting Local Access and Community Empowerment) has been addressing the social determinants of health e.g. circle of the child to provide support for children taken from families, providing a social safety network, and developing strategies for supporting families.

LGBTQ Advisory Committee for the City of Vancouver advised Council and staff on enhancing access and inclusion for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, and queer communities to fully participate in City services and civic life. It has been building relationships with the Aboriginal community and addressing two spirit community issues by, for example, hosting a Pre-Pride Social at the Aboriginal Friendship Centre.

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