Roundtable 4: Mixed Table

Overview

This was a mixed table discussion focused on A City For All and was 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.

Roundtable Discussion

There were 10 participants from a variety of non-profit and community-based organizations, private sector firms, and individuals with an interest in the future of the city at Mixed Roundtable 4, as well as the notetaker Elizabeth Pinsent, and the table facilitator Walter Wawruck.

As a mixed table, a number of subjects and stories were discussed and common themes developed. The narrative was diverse in subject matter, but the importance of affordability, inclusion, and the role of government in addressing them, were consistent throughout. People related their personal experiences of renoviction, challenges in finding student housing, exclusion and inequality based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation etc. to the challenges of creating a city for all. Almost everyone talked of specific groups where they’ve experienced feeling like they have a place to belong or not, either physically or socially, and made the connection between affordability and belonging.

The more we see ourselves represented the more we can communicate better and also feel a better sense of belonging.

Lynne Lee

Key Findings

  • Affordable housing is a prerequisite to societal participation.
  • Need to deal with social inequalities and pay attention and provide support to minorities.
  • Recognize the gap between opportunities and income versus quality of life, housing, belonging, connection.
  • Need to use a gender, intersectional, and multicultural lens in all services and systems to achieve safety and equal representation.
  • Giving attention to social inequalities can be connected to inclusion and a sense of belonging.
  • Definition of affordability needs to expand beyond housing.
  • Diversity in neighbourhoods needs to take into account diversity in the built environment. If all the buildings in a neighbourhood are torn down and replaced with condos, it affects the affordability and diversity of the neighbourhood.
  • Current funding models and federal, municipal, and provincial housing policy discourage different, innovative models for city development and increase lack of affordability. The equation of ‘rental’ with ‘affordability’ does not realistically reflect actual affordability.
  • We need community-based planning that reflects the long-term demographics of the city and revive local neighbourhood councils to really take into account impacts of development and needs of residents.

Recommendations

  • Use an intersectional lens on city planning to create a women-friendly city.
  • The planning commission and the municipality together need to review the existing housing policies, particularly some of the new supposedly “rental units” and (re)define the definition of affordability – to reflect the existing demographics of this city, e.g. more housing geared to income.
  • Safe subsidized housing that addresses specific needs of Indigenous women and families; women friendly buildings designed to meet all their diverse needs, including childcare; buildings for women and families only, including seniors and those with unique issues faced by those aging with challenges.
  • Free post-secondary education, although a provincial issue, would address many of the issues identified under A City for All.
  • Reuse and renovate old buildings to facilitate sustainable housing.
  • Fully-funded National Housing Plan is needed.

Related Initiatives

World of Walas works on a different model from most developers. They buy buildings in depressed areas in the Netherlands and Germany – steel mills and fabric mills – and rejuvenate those buildings, rebuilding and renting them out as landlords (rather than acting merely as developers). They use a “first in and last out” methodology – they bring in the tenants, create the community (around the tenants) and stay for the long term.

Vancouver Asian Film Festival (VAFF) is dedicated to promoting and celebrating the diversity and depth of Asian culture and identity in film and media, and to help North American Asian actors and filmmakers to more authentically and more powerfully define and express themselves on screen.

411 Seniors Centre Society is a peer support organization that runs a social meeting hub where people meet, socialize, and organize around issues important to seniors.

Women Transforming Cities examines systemic barriers to women’s participation in local government. In 2014, they launched the Hot Pink Paper Campaign, partnering with organizations serving women to develop policy recommendations. In 2018, they had 11 topics and 33 recommendations for mayor and council. The new Mayor supported 32 of the 33 recommendations and the whole Council supports using a gender intersectional lens on city policy, programmes, budget, funding, staffing, and governance, as well as a city wide safety audit and anti-violence campaign and environmental initiatives.

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