SFU wins national recognition for facilitating Burnaby’s public engagement on housing strategy

October 01, 2020

SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue worked with the City of Burnaby last year, to lead ‘Your Voice. Your Home.’, the largest public engagement process in the city’s history. The process engaged more than 2,600 Burnaby residents to share their ideas, concerns and goals and resulted in 18 recommendations on how to move forward with one of the region’s most pressing issues: community housing.

The Canadian chapter of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) has named the Centre Runner Up for the annual Core Values Award in the category of Creativity, Contribution and Innovation in the Field of public participation.

“Mayor Mike Hurley and the City of Burnaby embarked on one of the most comprehensive engagement processes on community housing that we have ever seen,” said Shauna Sylvester, Centre for Dialogue executive director and task force lead facilitator. “We are delighted to see this process recognized with an IAP2 Core Values Award.”

“The design of the process was innovative and engaged stakeholders and citizens in unprecedented ways and it was grounded in the needs of people of Burnaby, not the physical infrastructure. Burnaby took a risk and has now provided a model for other municipalities to emulate.”

The process is nationally recognized for a number of accomplishments. First, the process integrated two parallel processes: resident engagement, and the task force, which met with decision makers and stakeholders. Connecting the work of residents and the task force ensured that engagement maximized the value of lived experience from residents and the technical expertise of stakeholders.

Second, the public engagement reached out to traditionally underrepresented voices. Ten SFU students and recent alumni were hired as community student ambassadors. They engaged with Burnaby residents in places where they naturally gather like bus stops, malls and schools. SFU students also joined the process as facilitators as Burnaby residents deliberated possible ways forward, negotiating challenging trade-offs and coming up with recommendations to pitch to elected officials.

A year in, there is still much is to be done and the city is continuing to build on the ‘Your Voice. Your Home’ process with three new phases of engagement to guide the development of HOME: Burnaby’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy.

See the official announcement of the award here.

To read more about the project, visit the project’s page here.

To learn more about the City of Burnaby’s subsequent phases of work and to get involved, visit their website.