media release

Urban planners, thinkers to discuss impact of COVID-19 on city planning

September 29, 2020

Continuing the discussion on the near- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social, cultural and economic aspects of urban development, SFU Public Square will host a webinar on Pandemics & Long-Range Planning.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020
5:00 - 7:00 PM
Online Event - A link and password to join the event will be sent to registrants via Eventbrite.


The online event will advance earlier discussions that examined whether the pandemic has “interrupted” (a temporary pause before we return to business as usual) or “disrupted” (a case where things will never be the same) current and future city planning efforts, thereby necessitating an urgent need to reenvision them. The webinar is part of Pandemonium: Urban Studies and Recovering from COVID-19, a lecture series presented by SFU Urban Studies in collaboration with SFU Public Square.


Meg Holden, director and professor, Urban Studies Program,

  • City of Vancouver's Vancouver Plan, and how COVID-19 will impact the same.
  • Updates in Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy—toward Metro 2040
  • Other systemic changes to our way of thinking about the city and the rights of residents, particularly vulnerable ones, within planning for its future, and in the context of the pandemic.

Ken Cameron, adjunct professor, SFU Urban Studies (Moderator)

604.224.6509, 604.290.3158

  • Should long-term city planning favor urban forms that are resilient in the face of known and unknown threats:
  • Should we continue to approve residential towers that provide no reasonable alternative to elevators for everyday access?
  • Should we continue to invest in capital intensive transit that requires travelers to move in crowded conditions separated from fresh air?
  • In general, do we want a city of tower clusters connected by below-grade rail transit or should we look at the flatter city urban forms advocated by Patrick Condon, where residential development takes the form of medium rise neighborhoods, well served not only by surface transit but by non-motorized forms, such as walking, cycling and utilization of new modes of localized movement?

Am Johal, director, SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement,

Whose City is it Anyway?

  • What form of planning can be articulated and called upon to defend public interest in times of multiple crises in the near future?
  • For most people, backroom elites are determining decision-making processes, circumventing appropriate forms of engagement. How can planning rethink its relationship with the state and land politics, particularly in the urban context where reconciliation has yet to be actualized?
  • What does planning that centers social solidarity and social, ecological and economic justice look like? How do we re-establish a more responsible link between incomes and the cost of housing in cities?
  • Bringing back joy to the city. Despite its challenges, the pandemic has enlivened the city; all of a sudden, forms of urban funk hitherto unimaginable, are now possible in the city.
  • For Metro Vancouver, the recovery needs to include investment south of the Fraser to reflect demographic realities.
  • Working from home and other possibilities of technology are differentially experienced. What does this mean for the future of work?

Jennifer Keesmaat, former chief city planner, Toronto,

The New Imperative for Resilience in Canadian Cities

(Available for interviews on Wednesday, September 30 between 11-2:30 pm EST and 4:30-6pm EST)

Shauna Rae, 647.967.0041,

  • Urgency for change to repair half a century of unsustainable planning. 
  • Address how this has compromised health, access to housing, quality of air and water, facilitated social inequity, and upended long-term financial viability of our cities.
  • How can Canadian cities position themselves to thrive and embrace the “new normal” and a better “business-as-usual.”
  • A greener, cleaner, decarbonized economy begins with our cities, not an abandonment of them.
  • Will also refer to the 20 actions outlined in the 2020 Declaration for Resilience in Canadian cities as a starting framework for transformation. See

Heather McNell, general manager, Regional Planning and Housing, Metro Vancouver

The Vancouver Region in 2050: Implications of COVID-19

Yunji Kim, assistant professor, Grad School of Public Administration, Seoul National University

The Pandemic and the Impatient Nation: How Korea Responded to COVID-19



Shradhha Sharma, SFU Communications & Marketing 


About Simon Fraser University:

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 35,000 students. The university now boasts more than 160,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.