Future Economy: Prosperous, Sustainable and Resilient

2021, The Future We Want The Change We Need, Cities, Economy

While Vancouver has transitioned from a boom and bust economy to a diverse and knowledge-based one, many residents and workers still struggle to make ends meet. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified these concerns and further exposed the vulnerabilities in Vancouver’s economic situation. The pandemic has also required many businesses to fundamentally change the way they operate. City planning and economic policies need to support a new economic landscape not just in the present, but into the future. Important considerations include:

  • What can we learn from xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and other Indigenous Peoples who are working on major economic development initiatives and leading their communities in economic endeavours important to the future of Vancouver’s economy?
  • How will we be able to maintain a vibrant, resilient economy that creates shared prosperity, liveability, affordability, and healthier lifestyles, along with sustainable cultural and economic development?
  • How can bold and collective efforts from the city’s economy confront our climate crisis and strengthen our democracy and governance?
  • How can we ensure that we are building a strong, inclusive and fair city by investing in businesses and sectors that promise fair wages and working conditions? 

We discussed what is required to transition to a city of economic health and diversity at the fourth event of The Future We Want: The Change We Need series. Our panel brought diverse perspectives on the future of Vancouver’s economy. 

Thu, 25 Feb 2021

Online Event

The Future We Want: The Change We Need

The future we want will not be achieved by applying the solutions of yesterday to the challenges facing our city and communities today. In collaboration with Simon Fraser University, the City of Vancouver presented The Future We Want: The Change We Need — a free, online, interactive dialogue series that brings together new and varied perspectives and ideas to shape the transformative social, economic and physical changes we need.    

This series invited knowledge keepers, thought leaders, changemakers and community members to discuss, deliberate and share their thoughts on the future of the City of Vancouver.  These dialogues contributed to the Planning Vancouver Together planning process, informed by policy analysis, scenario development and public engagement, to create a new, long-term strategic citywide plan looking to 2050 and beyond. 

Each of the six conversations in this series addressed the biggest challenges standing in the way of achieving our goals; and new ideas – big and small – to help unlock our collective potential as a truly just, resilient, sustainable, affordable and culturally vibrant Vancouver.


Gil Kelley
GM of Planning, City of Vancouver

Gil Kelley, FAICP, is an internationally recognized urban strategist and visionary, having served as Chief Planner for several West Coast cities and as an independent advisor to cities and governments across the globe. He currently serves as the General Manager of Planning, Urban Design and Sustainability for the City of Vancouver, British Columbia. In the past, he has served as the Director of Citywide Planning for the City of San Francisco, the Director of Planning for the City of Portland, Oregon and the Director of Planning and Development for the City of Berkeley, California.

Julia Aoki
Executive Director, Megaphone

Julia Aoki is an administrator, writer, researcher, and advocate. Currently the Executive Director of Megaphone, she has served as General Manager and Programming Director of the Powell Street Festival, the General Manager of VIVO Media Arts Centre, and volunteered with advocacy organizations, such as the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres and DTES SRO Collaborative. Her writing on cultural expressions and community formations that are overlooked and underserved by commercial and political mechanisms and practices, can be found in TOPIA, Space and Culture and a collection by Lexington Books.

Charles Gauthier
President and CEO, Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association

Since 1992, Charles Gauthier has been at the helm of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA). He is responsible for the overall management and strategic direction of the association that has an annual budget of approximately $5 million (CAD). Charles has guided the DVBIA to a legacy of accomplishments and prestigious honours, such as the top year 2000 award for "downtown management" by the International Downtown Association and four Canadian Society of Association Executives’ (BC Chapter) Cornerstone of Excellence Awards in three separate categories — government relations, new program, and “above and beyond." Born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, he has a Master of City Planning degree from the University of Manitoba. Throughout his 34-year career he has worked with non-governmental organizations in Manitoba and BC. He is an active member of the International Downtown Association, currently serving on its Board of Directors. He also served on the leadership team of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Society of Association Executives for four years. He is a founding member and served as the first President of the Vancouver New Year’s Eve Celebration Society.

Carol Anne Hilton
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Indigenomics Institute

Carol Anne Hilton, MBA is the CEO and founder of the Indigenomics Institute and the Global Center of Indigenomics. Carol Anne is a dynamic national Indigenous business leader, author, speaker and senior adviser with an international Masters Degree in Business Management (MBA) from the University of Hertfordshire, England. Carol Anne is of Nuu chah nulth descent from the Hesquiaht Nation on Vancouver Island. Carol Anne has led the establishment of a line of thought called #indigenomics — growing from a single word to an entire movement which focuses on the re-building and strengthening of Indigenous economies. Carol Anne is the author of Indigenomics: Taking a Seat at the Economic Table and is an adjunct professor at Royal Roads University School of Business.

Naia Lee
Organizer, Sustainabiliteens

Naia was drawn to climate work through shared visions of a more just world. As an organizer with the local and national climate movement, she has trained young people and mobilized thousands to the streets — while continually witnessing the possibilities created by community. Currently a gap year student working with Youth Climate Lab, Naia uses her passions for creating empathy, sharing stories, and scaling local action to contextualize the need for climate justice.

Johanna Li
Manager, EMBERS Eastside Works

As the manager for EMBERS Eastside Works, Johanna is passionate about finding innovative ways to help people earn income. Having spent nearly 15 years working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), often known as Canada’s poorest community, with organizations such as the Potluck Café Society and the Vancity Community Foundation, she has built a strong repertoire of expertise in community development and gained a true appreciation of what is possible even with the many challenges at hand. Her work at Eastside Works had allowed her to commit her focus to not just providing band-aid responses to the profound poverty in the DTES community but to influence long-lasting systemic change to the current employment system and beyond.

Michael Tan
Co-Chair, Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group

Michael S. Tan 譚聖祐 is a financial executive with a strong track record of building global, hypergrowth technology companies, including Hootsuite, Unbounce, and Damon Motors. He is a Co-Chair of the Chinatown Legacy Stewardship Group, a City Council-appointed committee, tasked with advising Council on community actions to conserve and protect Chinatown's unique cultural heritage. He is the Vice-Chair of the Chau Luen Society, a 78-year-old non-profit that provides culturally appropriate and linguistically accessible non-market housing for low-income seniors, and the founder of Disrupt Finance, an event series for Vancouver finance professionals working in the technology industry. Michael is a passionate community advocate dedicated to working towards a more equitable future.

Andy Yan
Director, The City Program at SFU

Andy Yan is the director of The City Program at Simon Fraser University. Born and raised in Vancouver, Andy Yan has extensively worked in the non-profit and private urban planning sectors with projects in the metropolitan regions of Vancouver, San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles and New Orleans. Andy is a registered professional planner with the Canadian Institute of Planners. He is also an adjunct professor in Urban Studies at SFU as well as an adjunct professor in the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia.

Chief Ian Campbell
Hereditary Chief, Squamish Nation

Chief Ian Campbell is a Hereditary Chief of the Squamish Nation and is currently serving his fourth consecutive term as an elected Councillor for the Squamish Nation. He has been employed as a lead Negotiator and Cultural Ambassador for the Intergovernmental Relations Department of the Squamish Nation since 1999. He has an MBA from Simon Fraser University, and was instrumental in the MST land acquisitions, independent Environmental Assessment of Woodfibre LNG, acquisition of TFL 38, Hosting of 2010 Winter Olympics, Sea to Sky Highway expansion and signage, ski hill development, and many other successful negotiations.


Veronika Bylicki
Executive Director and Co-Founder, CityHive

Veronika is an engagement innovator and community builder, and is the executive director and co-founder of CityHive, a youth-centred non-profit on a mission to transform the way young people are engaged in shaping their cities. A lifelong Vancouverite, she is passionate about creating more sustainable, resilient, just cities and amplifying the meaningful engagement of citizens, particularly youth, in addressing urban challenges.

Veronika completed her BSc in Global Resource Systems at UBC, with a specialization in Urban Sustainability, Policy and Planning. Her experience includes working in sustainability education, sustainability engagement, environmental policy and participatory design. She was awarded as a Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalist in Canada in 2015, is currently a Commissioner on the Vancouver City Planning Commission and Board Member for CityStudio Vancouver. Veronika is an outdoor enthusiast and can often be found zipping around the city on her bike.

Peter Hall
Professor, SFU Urban Studies
Associate Dean, SFU Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Peter V. Hall is a professor in the Urban Studies Program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, where he teaches economic development, transportation geography and research methods. He received his doctorate in city and regional planning from the University of California at Berkeley and previously worked in local government in Durban, South Africa. His research examines the connections between port cities, seaports and logistics, as well as community, local economic and employment development. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Transport Geography.


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