A planning workshop for a Summit on “A City for All” was convened by the Vancouver City Planning Commission (VCPC) on April 23, 2018. The workshop was facilitated by Daniella Ferguson, VCPC Commissioner, and attended by about 45 people from various City of Vancouver advisory groups and other organizations with an interest in the topic. Notes were compiled from 6 discussion tables by Veronika Bylicki, VCPC Commissioner.
Transcribed table notes can be downloaded here ( 126KB).
Four themes emerged from the table discussions around the question of “What a ‘City for All’ Means to You”. They are grouped below under the themes: Belonging (the social and psychological nature of inclusion); Equity (access to power, resources, governance and decision-making); Places (access and the design of the natural and built environment); and Economy (access to financial resources and meaningful work). A common thread of the discussions was the need to use an intersectional lens in approaching these themes.
The social and psychological nature of inclusion
Typical comments included: a place where you belong; feels like home; trusting; sharing (meals); safe; accepting; reconciliation in action; intergenerational; inclusive (newcomers, gender, race, class, ability, age, ancestry, sexual orientation); friendly; mutuality of respect for differences; seeking people out where they are at;
Access to power, resources, governance and decision-making
Phrases occurring often 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); geographic equity.
Access and the design of the natural and built environment
Threads of the comments 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.
Access to financial resources and meaningful work
Comments on this theme clustered around: affordability of housing; kinds of work, livelihoods; underemployment; support for business, including small and medium-sized businesses; low welfare rates continue cycles of poverty; access to food and places to grow things;
Some overarching ideas were 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’.
- A City for All reflects the Indigenous Peoples of this land in design, art, culture, space for ceremony and dance, and reflects a little of each settler groups.
- 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.
Nature and Structure of the Summit
In discussions of the organization and nature of the December Summit a consensus emerged about the engagement of partners to widen its input and broaden its impact. Rather than attempting to do too much on the day of the Summit, expanding the time frame to include more activities between now and December, would add much richness to the discussions and lead to better outcomes.
Many of the groups at the workshop pointed out that they were already planning events/meetings or compiling recommendations on subjects relevant to the topic. It was suggested that these and other new pre-Summit events be considered partner events leading up to the Summit. The December Summit could then focus on discussing the commonalities or differences in the recommendations, gauge the strength of support and test consensus on a common set of recommendations and promising ideas to be presented to key decision makers.
Other promising ideas included:
- Case examples were suggested to identify what was working, what was scale-able and what trends were emerging.
- The recommendations should be action oriented and combined with metrics to track progress and encourage accountability.
- Key decision makers should include a broader range of people and organizations beyond the new Mayor and Council. Actions could be tied to what can be done by the different orders of government; by businesses; academics; community-based organizations; NGOs; faith groups; and by individuals; in the short, medium or long-term.
- Resources would be needed to facilitate some small-scale partner events and could be sought on a joint basis.
- An on-line platform might be used to get fun ideas and engage the public before the events.
- Build in as many principles as possible into the design of the Summit and partner events. I.e. accessibility, active transportation, language, childcare, scheduling, nature, arts and culture and intentional variability in participation.
- Take the Summit out to people and organizations.
- Let the partners be the speakers and the key decision makers be the listeners.
- Have a hall or ‘trade show’ style area where partners can display or give information about their activities that relate to A City for All.
- Identify ways to work together before and beyond the Summit (intersectionality and accessing resources together).
- Reach out to groups traditionally not at the table (school kids, urban indigenous, immigrants etc.).
- Build a report into the planning and budget.
The workshop concluded with a suggestion that regular monthly round-table type meetings be convened to update one another on who is doing what, when and to identify mutual concerns and offers of help. It was suggested that these meeting be held late in the day in the last week of the month. The VCPC Executive Director will find out the availability of meeting rooms for this purpose.