Category Archives : Social Fabric

Strong communities encourage the sharing of knowledge, best practices and tools, and motivate individuals to initiate positive social change. The themes present in this category include housing, poverty, placemaking, and arts, culture and heritage.


2011 Polling – Centre for Civic Governance at the Columbia Institute

Each year the Columbia Institute does polling on the local issues that British Columbians consider most pressing. Below is a comparison of results from 2007 to 2011.* You will find a breakdown of responses on the following page. Social Infrastructure includes: Homelessness, Healthcare, Poverty, Immigration/Integration, Education, Lack of social services/sense of community, Childcare. Economic Bottom READ MORE


Dynamic Downtowns: Using Heritage to Build Strong, Vibrant Downtowns

Created in collaboration with the Columbia Institute , the Dynamic Downtowns Workbook is a resource for communities that want to know more about how to include heritage buildings as part of their downtown revitalization strategy. The five ‘Case Studies’ included in the Workbook illustrate examples of how some British Columbia communities are incorporating heritage buildings into their READ MORE


Local Governments Should Have a Bigger Piece of the Pie

Local government officials meet at the Union of BC Municipalities the week of September 24th through 28th. Climate change, increased social challenges and aging infrastructure will be hot topics. The public is on their side. Polling by the Columbia Institute Centre for Civic Governance shows that British Columbians trust their local politicians twice as much READ MORE


How urban design affects our health

Research from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) has found that people in more walkable cities are more likely to be healthy. The research involved studies in 11 countries, and recommends that cities encourage walking and physical activity through: better integration of residential areas with commercial areas  building communities so that the places where people want READ MORE


Crime wave changes as grey tsunami washes over Vancouver Island

As the so-called grey tsunami gains momentum across the country, a different kind of crime wave is washing over some Vancouver Island communities, including Parksville, Sidney and North Saanich, with violent acts dropping and incidents involving seniors on the rise.  Door-to-door hustlers, online scams targeting seniors, scooter collisions and other vehicle mishaps, find police having to READ MORE


Okanagan takes bite out of plan for genetically modified apple

On June 7, 2012, Allan Patton convinced his colleagues on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to adopt a motion to register its disapproval of the Arctic Apple, a genetically modified apple that carries the risk of cross-pollination of traditional varieties and puts the entire Okanagan fruit industry in jeopardy. The RDOS board unanimously READ MORE


Autism advocate raises concerns over inclusive education

The New Brunswick government will invest $62 million over the next three years to improve inclusive education.  Autism advocate and Fredericton lawyer Harold Doherty is questioning the education department’s plans around autism by pointing out that some children with autism cannot function properly in a mainstream classrooms.  “It’s a philosophy, it’s not an evidence based approach READ MORE


Cities push for B.C. Residential Tenancy Act amendment

City counsellors call for a united voice in requesting the provincial government review the Residential Tenacy Act.  Politicians from 33 municipalities agreed the act subjects tenants to a costly, time-consuming, and ineffective system that is difficult to navigate due to its bureaucratic and legal complexity.  The resolution put forward by Judy Villeneuve, Counsellor from Surrey, calling for READ MORE


City of Surrey tracks progress towards Sustainability

The City of Surrey is launching a dashboard that allows the community to track the City’s progress towards sustainability. Some of the indicators tracked include: proximity of homes to amenities like schools and parks median income for immigrants amount of farmland in food production daily household water consumption Read more at the city’s website.


BC secondary students develop a taste for fresh local food

BC secondary students are sharpening their palettes, culinary skills and appreciation for local, seasonal, and nutritious food in a program called Take a Bite of BC . The program delivers donations from 42 local B.C. farms, food producers and industry associations twice a month to participating schools. Currently 37 schools are participating. According to cofounder, Lindsay Babineau, “Each of the READ MORE


Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Task Force targets middle-income residents

The affordable task force released a list of recommendations that could potentially help those in the middle income households (ranging from an individual income of $21,500 to a combined household income of $86,500). Some of the recommendations include; expediting applications that address affordable housing, developing the Cambie corridor for higher density rental housing, and leveraging READ MORE


Canada’s First Nations want languages officially recognized

There is a move afoot to have several First Nations languages, those covering large territories and populations, to be recognized under the Official Languages Act. Official recognition would likely result in additional long-term funding to incorporate indigenous languages into school curriculum. So far the government seems unwilling to concede; “news reports revealed that documents obtained READ MORE


Melbourne’s vibrant graffiti scene attracting top artists and tourists

Despite having strict anti-graffiti laws, including a $26,000 fine and sentences up to two years, Melbourne’s alley are continually renewed with graffiti art. Artists from around the world flock to Melbourne to display their talent and the crowds follow. The city’s cleaning crews make sure the art is transient, fleeting and always fresh. Read more in READ MORE


Resilient Communities: Cool Ideas for Locally Elected Leaders

Our annual governance forum in Harrison Hot Springs explores the idea of resiliency and the bold and creative ways in which leaders and communities are responding to the major environmnetal challenges of our time. Presentations: Bill Rees – The Big Picture: The Jekyll and Hyde of Resilience Juan Torres – Children and Cities: Planning to Grow Together Briony Penn – Conservation Offsets: Stretching Funds for Greenspace, Watersheds and Community Forests


NFB film shows how Toronto’s apartment towers can be revitalized

Enlisting architects, animators and more importantly residents, an NFB film titled One Millionth Tower , provides ideas for revitalizing Toronto’s aging highrises. Some of the ideas include eliminating first floor apartments to make room for cafes and businesses, creating a marketspace, and networks and paths linking to the towers to parks and community gardens. Residents featured in the documentary READ MORE


Toronto’s Library Committee has voted no to closing branches

Rob Ford is pressuring the Toronto Library board to cut 10% of its budget, totaling approximately 7 million dollars. The board has been pouring over recommendations for cuts including eliminating computers from all libraries, charging for library cards and closing 38 of Toronto’s libraries. For now the board has voted against closures. They have yet READ MORE


Educators and elders fight to save Aboriginal languages

A Tyee series on Aboriginal education looks at the critical links between language and culture. With a steady decline in spoken aboriginal languages in BC, advocates and educators are looking for solutions. While elders are working hard to pass on their languages, fluent speakers are racing against time to teach the younger generations. Advocates are READ MORE


BC school program provides students with locally grown food

BC’s Farm to School program is having a transformative effect on student participants. The program provides students with locally grown food served at the school cafeteria, and some classroom time dedicated to learning about local food and nutrition. At participant schools students are enthusiastically lining up at the salad bar and are showing a genuine READ MORE


Traditional playgrounds are not the cure for declining activity amongst children

The belief that adding more traditional playgrounds will encourage activity amongst children has proven to be a false assumption. A study that used GPS (Global Positioning System) to examine the link between environment and activity levels amongst children has shown that traditional playgrounds do little to promote activity. The large metal structures are often intimidating READ MORE


BC’s Chief Atahm Elementary School provides immersion in First Nations language and culture

Located on the Adam’s Lake reserve, Chief Atahm Elementary relies on elders for its immersion program that teaches only in the local language, Secwepemctsin, from kindergarten to Grade 3. The school also provides instruction in traditional cultural practices, from plant identification and uses, to preserving meat. The involvement of local elders and parents has created READ MORE


Surrey’s Living Books program will lend local experts

Innovation in Surrey abounds! The soon to open City Centre Library will have an innovative  program that enlists local residents, who are experts in various capacities, to be available on loan for ½ hour to 45 minute conversations. The program is about sharing information and experience, and building community amongst Surrey’s diverse populations. Read more at Good READ MORE


Ontario municipalities embrace local food

With support from the Greenbelt Foundation and the Province of Ontario municipalities and public institutions across Ontario are initiating local food policies to encourage local food being served in daycares, schools and hospitals. The Broader Public Sector Investment Fund: Promoting Ontario Food provides funding for connecting local food to communities. Read more at Broader Public Sector Investment READ MORE


Calgary invests in communities

Calgary’s newly formed Community Investment Fund will direct $252 million over the next six years into community projects including a new central library, new recreation centres, and upgrades to community arenas, pools, parks and community associations and recreation groups.  The investment in projects was made possible by the Province’s decision to ease the provincial property READ MORE


Toronto’s new neighbourhood ranking website

 A new website that builds upon open data allows users to rate Toronto neighbourhoods. Information provided on the Wellbeing Toronto website is exhaustive, ranging from the number of car crashes in an area, to income and education levels. While some view the ranking system as potentially damaging to communities, many others are happy to have such data readily READ MORE


Vancouver‘s efforts to reduce street homelessness are working

Every three years Metro Vancouver conducts a street homelessness survey, with volunteers combing the streets, alleys, and parks looking for individuals sleeping outside. This year’s count showed Vancouver’s street homeless population fell by 82% compared with the survey conducted in 2008. The city has made a concerted effort to provide more shelter beds while waiting READ MORE


City of Surrey uses multiple approaches to combat crime

During the past four years the city of Surrey has greatly reduced criminal activity by employing a variety of strategies: increasing police presence at hotspots for crime, creating more affordable housing, neighbourhood beautification and increasing community and school programs for youth. Surrey’s innovative crime reduction program is the result of “community partnerships, innovative programs and READ MORE


Placemaking: Cool Ideas for Locally Elected Leaders

Progressive Governance Forum 2011 at Harrison Hot Springs Friday March 25th-Saturday March 26th   THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR PARTICIPANTS!  WE ENJOYED ANOTHER INSPIRING FORUM: Michael Shuman Keynote: Revitalizing BC Communities From the Inside Out with audio! David Thompson Plenary: Green Jobs for BC Patrick Condon: Seven Rules for Sustainable Communities  with audio! Mayor Darrell Mussatto: Leadership for a Sustainable Future with audio! Sharon Gregson: Early Childcare and Learning Blair Redlin: Canada/EU Trade Agreement (CETA) and Municipal Purchasing Claire Beckstead: Municipal Financing for Energy Efficiency Ken Melamed: Competence or Knowledge with audio! Grant Pearsell: Four Strategies for Achieving Biodiversity  Barinder Rasode: Child Focused Communities   FINAL AGENDA PRESENTER BIOS