media release

B.C. voices on economic future shared at Surrey Summit

February 27, 2014

Scott McLean, PAMR, 778.782.5151;
Marianne Meadahl, PAMR, 778.782.9017;


Results of a recent B.C. leader’s forum and a series of community consultations on the province’s economic future, led by Simon Fraser University’s Public Square, highlight the need for a long-term vision that embraces sustainable measures, education and infrastructure investment, and social equity. These were among findings shared at Surrey’s Regional Economic Summit today, Feb. 27.

Shauna Sylvester, executive director of SFU Public Square, joined other local and global economic leaders and thinkers in the discussion on the region’s economic future, sharing what nearly 150 key B.C. leaders, and the many 100 community conversations participants throughout B.C., had to say on the issue.

“Some of the key issues we kept hearing from people were related to employment, including the need for education and skills training that would help us keep up with global competition and technological advances,” said Sylvester. She shared the stage during the daylong event with other high profile presenters that included a trio of former prime ministers from Israel, Greece and Australia.

“We also heard the need for a greater focus on rural communities, immigrant and Aboriginal populations.

“One of the most concerning statistics from our research was that 54 per cent of British Columbians say they are worse off financially compared with their parents. Many young people believe their future isn’t very optimistic and they feel they are being saddled with the “boomers’” financial, environmental and social debt.”

Sylvester says other key themes of concern included leveraging natural capital with trade-offs that rely on the most productive and sustainable approach to development, more focus on the role of transportation to the economy, significant infrastructure to meet the demands of a growing population, and addressing income disparity.

SFU Public Square’s Leader’s Forum on B.C.’s Economy also determined the need to re-engage citizens in democracy and hold more informed and inclusive dialogues, including mapping out a long-term shared economic vision.

The findings of SFU Public Square’s leader’s forum and community consultations are now available at:

Other speakers at today’s event included oilman and philanthropist T. Boone Pickens, recognized as one of the world’s most successful business leaders.  Ehud Barak, former Israeli prime minister, George Papandreou, who led Greece during the global financial crisis, and Julia Gillard, who served as prime minister of Australia from 2010-2013, also shared their experiences.

Michael Goldberg, dean emeritus of UBC’s Sauder School of Business, Ken Peacock, chief economist and vice president of the Business Council of B.C. and Andrew Ramlo, executive director of Urban Futures, were among local presenters.

The summit, opened by B.C. Minister of Finance Mike de Jong, is recognized as one of Canada’s highest profile business and economic conferences. Business, government and community leaders hear from a wide range of local, national and global panellists and experts.

SFU Public Square is a signature initiative designed to spark, nurture and restore community connections and establish Simon Fraser University as the go-to convener of serious and productive conversations about issues of public concern.

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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