Rethinking the Region VI Municipal Responsibility in an Age of Urban Inequality

April 28, 2018

When: Saturday, April 28, 2018 | 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Where: SFU Surrey, 13450 – 102 Avenue

Cost: Free

Registration: Required

Program (.pdf)

As cities throughout our region struggle to lower the opioid death toll, address the housing crisis, and settle often vulnerable newcomers from around the globe, this year’s Rethinking the Region offers a chance to reflect on the questions of whether and how much our municipalities have the responsibility, capacity, and imagination to address urban inequality. It’s also an opportunity to find out about regional realities and responses, learn from each other, and to improve practices.

This one-day symposium will bring together municipal and provincial leaders, frontline professionals, community advocates, and thought leaders from around Metro Vancouver to explore how these local realities and the response to them are stretching and straining notions of community and belonging in cities across the region. For what and to whom are municipalities responsible and accountable in this context? If cities are responsible to address these issues, where will the resources come from? What are the hard policy and political choices emerging out of these realities? How are communities’ social fabric and municipal identities being transformed when supposedly city-centre dynamics like gentrification, displacement, and homelessness come to define the suburbs as well?

Speakers, panellists and moderators 

Keynote by David Miller, North American Regional Director, and Global Ambassador for Inclusive climate action, C40 Cities. Former Mayor of Toronto.

David Miller will discuss how issues of environmentally sustainability, social inclusion and economic prosperity are inextricably linked, and how city governments need to consider all three if they are to succeed fully in any.  He will use Toronto as a main example, looking at the interplay between official plan policies that define where growth can be accommodated and the city’s response to climate change and social inclusion in the face of geographic concentrations of poverty.

Specific programs to be discussed include

  • Priority neighborhood strategy (addressing needs of low-income neighborhoods)
  • Climate strategy (“change is in the air”)
  • Childcare strategy
  • Revitalization of Regent Park
  • Tower Renewal
  • Streets to Homes
  • Transit City

Panel #1: Responding to Crisis

  • Dr. Perry Kendall, Provincial Health Officer of British Columbia (retired)
  • Chris Friesen, Director, Settlement Services, ISSofBC
  • Jennifer Breakspear, Executive Director, Portland Hotel Society
  • Sarah Blyth, Co-Founder & Manager, Overdoes Prevention Society

Panel #2: Who's Responsible: The Politics of Answering the Need

  • Nicole Read, Mayor of Maple Ridge
  • DJ Larkin, Legal Director, Pivot Legal Society
  • Feezah Jaffer, Executive Director, Surrey Food Bank Society
  • Veronika Bylicki, Co-Director, CityHive; Organizer, Generation Squeeze

Panel #3: Making an Accessible City for All

  • Jonathan Cote, Mayor of New Westminster
  • Kevin Barlow, CEO, Metro Vancouver Aboriginal Executive Council
  • Surinder Bhogal, Chief Librarian, Surrey Libraries
  • Vi Nguyen, Director of Youth Engagement, Vancouver Foundation

Note: In consideration of participants with chemical sensitivities, please refrain from wearing perfumes or scented personal care products at this event.


As always, we are grateful to the Real Estate Foundation of BC and the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board for their financial support of Rethinking the Region via the Initiative in Sustainable Urban Development.