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
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 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
Food insecurity in Canada is “a serious social and public health problem,” says a new report that found nearly one in eight Canadian households couldn’t access sufficient, safe and nutritious food in 2011. Click here to read the full article in the Edmonton Journal. Click here to read the study.
Public Spaces Matter “Great public spaces transform an ordinary city into a destination. They are what draw people to visit, do business and live in them. They are investments in the economy of a city – and fortunately, they don’t need to cost that much money. With creative rezoning and re-designating municipal lands, cities can READ MORE
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
After over a decade of pushing the Progressive Conservative government, advocacy groups finally see the Alberta government scrap the part of its medical services billing codes that classified gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered patients as suffering from mental disorders. Read more at Yahoo News.
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
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
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
Truro Nova Scotia town council is creating an urban agricultural bylaw to support local and sustainable food production and small agricultural uses on residents’ properties including allowing residents to keep animals. Read more at Farm Focus of Atlantic Canada .
Richmond city council has unanimously passed a motion banning genetically modified plants and crops from being grown in the city making Richmond the first predominantly agricultural jurisdiction in B.C. to enact such a ban. Read more at the Vancouver Sun.
With incomes unable to keep up with soaring rental costs, Councillor Pat Atkinson calls for partnership among the federal, provincial and municipal governments to address the problem of low vacancy rates and high demand for rental properties in Saskatchewan. Read more at The Star Phoenix.
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
A Halifax councillor wants the provincial government to look into limiting rent hikes before demand for housing rises and is calling on the Halifax Regional Municipality staff to look at the pros and cons of re-establishing provincial rent controls, which were abolished in the 1980s. Currently, only BC, Manitoba, Ontario and PEI limit the size READ MORE
A Place to Call Home: Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness inspired by the Housing First principle that providing people with housing and supports prepares them to successfully build a new life for themselves. The City of Edmonton and the Government of Alberta have all worked in collaboration to house and support 1789 Edmontonians READ MORE
Saskatoon joins a number of other Canadian cities in passing a bylaw allowing seniors on fixed incomes to defer increases to property taxes enabling them to stay in their homes longer. Read more at News Talk 650.
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.
Under current municipal laws, food grown on residential land cannot be sold commercially, but city council has asked staff to remove legal impediments in order to encourage local food production, one of the 10 goals of the Greenest City 2020 plan. Read more in the Vancouver Sun.
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
Richmond BC is in the process of drafting legislation that would make the municipality free from genetically modified organisms. Richmond has a large agricultural sector and local farmers, food activists and now councillors are worried about the impact of GMO’s on local farms: the contamination of non GMO crops, excessive use of weed controls and READ MORE
At a recent forum on food security in Oliver BC addressed a number of issues surrounding food sovereignty, from the decline of BC’s agricultural sector to the impact of GMO foods on local farms. Of immediate concern however was the effect that the proposed CETA agreement would have on buy local policies, and in turn READ MORE
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
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
Calgary’s most recent homelessness count saw an 11.4 % drop since the last count in 2008. Calgary’s homeless count includes those in shelter beds and temporary housing. The decline can be attributed to the city’s adoption of the “housing first” model. The model was developed in the United States and designed with the basic principle READ MORE
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
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
Each year the Columbia Institute does polling on the local issues that British Columbians consider most pressing. This year we also asked British Columbians about their support for Living Wage policies and action on Climate Change. Click below to read the results. Attachment: Columbia Institute 2011 Polling.pdf
Todmorden, a small village of 15,000 is embarking on an ambitious plan to be self sufficient in food by 2018. The town already has 70 large vegetable gardens, and is digging up lawns to plant more veggies on an ongoing basis. No public space is sacred, the police station, train station, health centre and school READ MORE
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
As the Conservatives are getting ready to pass their omnibus crime bill, a report released by the Canadian Psychiatric Association reveals that more than 1 in 10 male inmates and nearly one in three female inmates held in federal penitentiaries have mental illness. The number has climbed steadily alongside the closure of mental institutions across READ MORE
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
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
The FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) conducted a survey in 2010 to learn whether Canadian municipalities are considering sustainable food systems in their planning process. The results are now in and show that there is a strong interest in developing sustainable food system particularly in urban areas (57%). Find results of the survey here .
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
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
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
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
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’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
Applying biosolids (treated sewage) to farmland as a fertilizer is a common, but controversial practice that has resulted in some very toxic fields. Although it is banned in some countries, Canada has no such policy. Victoria councillor Philippe Lucas made a motion to the CRD to ban biosolids and it passed unanimously. Read more in the READ MORE
Despite worries that a Canada European Trade Agreement (CETA) will threaten local procurement policies, many Canadian municipalities are moving ahead and developing their local food motions. THe Saanich District in BC just passed a policy that would make local food a priority at district events, at council meetings, and at cafes in recreation centres. Read READ MORE
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
The City of Edmonton is looking at incorporating lands reserved for agriculture, as well as community and backyard food gardens, into its city planning. A huge demand for local produce combined with disappearing agricultural land has motivated the city to start looking at the long range picture, “There has to be a balance with how READ MORE
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
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
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
In a recent poll by the Columbia Institute, 15.8% of British Columbians have named housing and homelessness as the most important problem facing their community, up from 14.3% last year. Columbia Institute Executive Director Charley Beresford says “These numbers show a rising concern about housing and homelessness in communities across BC. They are a call READ MORE
Social Fabric Resources
Mark Lakeman of Portland’s City Repair seems to think so. He explains that when examining a new project most city staff, consider liability first, rather than the merits of the project. Cities are more focused on risk aversion than innovation and it is holding back creativity and community building. Read more in the Tyee .