News & Updates

2023 Year in Review

December 22, 2023

As the year comes to an end, we are reflecting on our most meaningful moments and milestones from 2023. It has been a year filled with engagement, connection and insights. As we head into the new year, we continue our commitment to helping communities become more renewable, resilient and regenerative.

We hosted a lunch ‘n’ learn on the promise and challenge of innovative housing developments 

We connected with eight non-profits and local governments that redeveloped their land to include mixed-use housing on top of community infrastructure.

We shared the lessons learned, successes and challenges on the promise and challenge of innovative housing developments from our forthcoming case studies with over 50 of our lunch ‘n’ learn attendees!

Our panel, featuring Dr. Alison Shaw, Michelle Hoar and Jessica McIlroy shared their thoughts and important considerations to ensure housing is climate resilient, socially connected and human-centred.

Stay tuned in January for the release of our eight case studies and recommendations for best practices in developing mixed-use housing on non-profit and public lands.

Other highlights: 

  • Led a roundtable dialogue in March with 55 senior-level participants across government, the non-profit sector and industry to discuss the potential of housing hubs to meet economic, climate and affordability agendas. B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon gave the keynote speech
  • Published a What We Heard report with the main themes that emerged from the roundtable, including issues around the diversity of actors, standards and streamlining, long-term investments, tailored solutions and multi-level, cross-sectional collaboration
  • Published a discussion paper outlining complementary public policies, market conditions, the scale of the opportunity, potential sites, precedents, projected scenarios, cost estimates and benefits

Published ‘Beyond Electric Vehicles’

In September, we released ‘Beyond Electric Vehicles‘ – a discussion paper that emphasizes the imperative of thinking together to reach our climate goals. We collaborated with SFU ACT – Action on Climate Team and Moving in a Livable Region to explore holistic approaches to reduce B.C.’s transportation emissions to create more livable, resilient and connected communities.

Other highlights: 

  • Recommended that Infrastructure Canada consider broader and longer-term impacts when evaluating transit projects
  • Submitted input into the province’s Clean Transportation Action Plan to emphasize the importance of land use and the potential of planning, economic tools and regulations in reducing transport emissions

It’s been a PREFAB-ulous year for our prefab mass timber project team

We engaged with over 230 developers, design consultants, builders, manufacturers, local government planners and building officials about prefabricated mass timber buildings. We delivered 15 presentationsbriefings and workshops to over 860 stakeholders and published two new guidebooks.

Hosted prefab mass timber design charrette
In October, we hosted a design charrette bringing together architects, planners, developers, engineers, industry professionals and mass timber experts from across B.C. Participants identified common challenges and opportunities for solutions with prefabrication and mass timber.

Results of the charrette will inform upcoming design guidelines that we will release for seven-plus-storey prefab mass timber buildings.

Published two guidebooks for prefab mass timber solutions
This year, we released Building Capacity – Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions, a 60-page guide for senior government officials, the development industry and local governments, that breaks down the challenges and potential solutions for each audience.

We also released a Local Government Quick Reference Handbook for elected officials and local government staff interested in implementing mass timber solutions in their community.

These new publications are in addition to our existing Design Solutions to Prefab Mass Timber guide.

Other highlights: 

  • Engaged with elected officials, industry professionals and other interested groups about the promise and potential of prefab mass timber, including at the Union of BC Municipalities Trade Show, BuildEx and the WoodWorks Summit
  • Offered professional development sessions about prefab mass timber for Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) and Architectural Institute of British Columbia (AIBC)

We hosted an open house for our Housing Solutions Lab

We brought together 50 community members—from renters and homeowners to municipal staff— across the North Shore in September. Participants shared their thoughts on housing solutions such as home sharing or creating/renting a secondary suite or coach house.

Feedback from the open house will inform the design of a pilot program.

Read the one-page summary here or the full report (8 pages) here to explore what community members shared about these solutions.

Share your housing story
Are you over the age of 55 and want to share your housing story? We are looking for older adults who are willing to share their housing story with the public, specifically if you are facing challenges with your housing situation, or have (or currently are) home sharing or renting a secondary suite or other part of your home.

For more details or if you are interested in sharing your story, please contact Rebekah at

Other highlights:  

  • The lab was covered by Global News, North Shore News (first articlesecond article), SFU News and upcoming coverage in a local magazine
  • Conducted five workshops with homeowners and service providers to understand needs, challenges, concerns, motivations and the minimum requirements for programs to be attractive and feasible. Check out the What We Heard reports from these workshops
  • Hosted a booth at Moving in a Livable Region’s Speak of the City event in August, engaging with community members about their hopes for housing on the North Shore and potential housing solutions

What’s coming in 2024?

We are heading into the new year with solid momentum with many interconnected challenges gaining attention at the provincial and federal level.

Here is a glimpse into what’s next for Renewable Cities:

Value-Added Housing Hubs

  • In January 2024, we will release eight case studies of public and non-profit land redeveloped to include housing. The case studies will dive into the successes, challenges and lessons learned with building mixed-use housing in communities across B.C. and Canada and will help inform upcoming programing by the province

Connecting Transportation and Livable, Resilient Communities (Beyond Electric Vehicles)

  • We are working with SFU ACT-Action on Climate and Moving in a Livable Region to convene government, advocates, researchers and practitioners to discuss next steps on reducing B.C.’s transportation emissions

Local Prefab Mass Timber Solutions

  • Our Prefab Mass Timber project team is working on updated Design Guidelines for buildings over seven-storeys that will incorporate input from our design charrette and two B.C. municipalities
  • We are working with the cities of Coquitlam and Kelowna to develop and refine design guidelines and zoning regulations with municipalities to enable construction of seven-plus-storey mass timber buildings

Housing Solutions Lab

  • We will hold a focus group for older adults in January to inform Hollyburn Community Services Society’s pilot program design
  • Stay tuned in early 2024 as we share our findings with multiple audiences through webinars and an interactive website detailing all stages of the project