2015 High Ground: Tools for Inspired Leaders

2015 High Ground: Tools for Inspired Leaders was held at the Coast Plaza Hotel & Suites in Vancouver, BC from March 20 to March 21.



Pre-Conference Workshops


Conference Sessions

Speaker Highlights

Columbia Idol High Ground Lyrics – Closing Plenary

Pre-Conference Workshops

March 20, 2015, Friday, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
TALKING ABOUT TAXES This pre-conference workshop provides context and research on a topic that is every politician’s bailiwick, from School Trustee to Prime Minister. First offered last year, the workshop offers a great opportunity to step up your knowledge base and ability to communicate about economics, inequality and taxation. Seth Klein



HAPPY CITY How can you bring happiness into the design and policies of your own city? In this lively, practical workshop, we introduce a new framework for incorporate well-being principles into urban design and systems planning. Together we will examine case studies from cities in transition, and develop happy design principles based on our cities’ own unique aspirations. Based from insights in Charles Montgomery’s acclaimed book, Happy City. Charles Montgomery


March 20, 2015, Friday, 7:00 pm

Action on climate change is more important than ever. Leadership is needed in tackling environmental and sustainability issues in our communities for future generations, and local leaders can affect a substantive difference. Ecological footprint guru Bill Rees talks about the big ecological footprint picture, sustainable degrowth, and relocalizing the economy, and Jennie Moore  presents her findings on One Planet Living in Vancouver. Bill Rees and Jennie Moore

Bill Rees’s presentation
Jennie Moore’s presentation

Back to top


March 20,2015, Friday, 1:30 pm – 2:45 pm

The Plenary will look trends in public finance in Canada and their implications for sustainable communities. Community leaders are struggling to meet expectations and rise to the challenge of sustainability within constrained resources. The Plenary will examine downloading from senior orders of government to municipalities and school boards, the public cost of public-private partnerships and the potential for carbon tax to shift the economy towards low carbon. Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk, “Who’s Picking Up the Tab?” author Robert Duffy, and Pembina Institute’s Matt Horne.

Bonnie Lysyk’s presentation
Robert Duffy’s presentation
Matt Horne’s presentation

Back to top


March 20, 2015, Friday, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
A solutions-oriented, fast-paced range of new ideas and positive solutions presented in 20 slides with 20 seconds per slide. This dynamic presentation style generates a buzz of new ideas: from Burning Man to Happy Cities.

Heather Deal on Burning Man


Judy Brownoff on climate action


David Frisch on bike lane policy


Sherese Johnson on community bonds


Peter Luckham on alternatives to regulation


Greg Moore on happy city

Back to top


March 21, 2015, Saturday, 8:00 am
Saturday’s buffet breakfast includes a presentation on the findings from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Climate Justice Project. It’s not just about climate, it’s about the public policy tools that could help us take action on climate AND ensure that inclusion and social justice are part of the solution. Seth Klein


March 21, 2015, Saturday, 10:45 am – 11:45 am
A fast-paced plenary that features punchy presentations on hot button public policy issues.

Aaron Ekman’s presentation on minimum wage
Keith Reynold’s presentation on P3

Back to top

Conference Sessions

March 20, 2015, Friday, 3:15 pm – 4:30 pm

This session offers a contemporary perspective on planning as a key function of local governments in leading change and improvements for their communities. As a future-focused, continuous process driven by community values, effective planning is a vital part of setting and reaching community goals. Ken Cameron and Nancy Knight / Moderator: Darlene Marzari

Ken Cameron and Nancy Knight’s presentation


Quality, accessible child care is good for kids, families and the community. Child care helps address the wealth and opportunity gap. Quebec’s universal child care program has demonstrated positive changes including increases in the workforce attachment of women and in the province’s GDP as well as a significant reduction in child poverty. In BC, municipalities and School Districts are finding innovative ways to support the development of quality, accessible child care. MaryLynne Rimer, Coralys Cuthbert, John Stark and Maria Cargnelli.

MaryLynne Rimer’s presentation
Coralys Cuthbert’s presentation
John Stark’s presentation
Maria Cargnelli’s presentation


This workshop will examine how municipalities can cause buildings to reduce environmental impact and offer insightful observations about equipment installation and construction practice. What scope do municipalities have? Are we getting what we pay for? What regulatory changes would make a difference for energy efficiency? Jessica Wolliams, Tom-Pierre Frappé-Sénéclauze, and Lee Loftus

Jessica Wolliams’s presentation
Tom-Pierre Frappé-Sénéclauze’s presentation
Lee Loftus’s presentation


From democratic processes playing out in the community, and at the board table, to structural roadblocks arising from legislation and restricted funding, dynamics at the school board table can make things challenging.  This workshop will look at working effectively within the power dynamics of community, structure and personal leadership. Trish Bella, Elsie McMurphy, and Jack MacDermot

Trustee Support Structure

Back to top


March 21, 2015, Saturday, 9:00 am – 10:15 am

This workshop features two case studies. One explores successful community building through neighborhood traffic planning and the second details community engagement lessons from First Nations Planning for joyful community organizing that attracts and retains participants. Both case studies offer leadership pathways for grassroots community building. Jessie Hemphill and Ben Isitt

Jessie Hemphill’s presentation
Ben Isitt’s presentation


Income inequality is rising steadily not only in municipalities, but globally as well. Such disparity certainly affects our way of living, our living options and choices, and community development. This panel explores the big picture and offers two case studies in municipal leadership: Surrey’s Anti-Poverty Plan and New Westminster’s groundbreaking Living Wage initiative. Trish Garner, Vera LeFranc, and Jaimie McEvoy

Trish Garner’s presentation
Vera LeFranc’s presentation


In June 2014, Vancouver school board adopted a policy update that welcomes students to use whichever washroom or change room they identify with, encourages schools to eliminate gender-segregated activities such as sex education and gym class, and allows students to select which pronouns identify them. Student activist Roan Reimer speaks to the policy, the campaign and the outcome. “It’s important that kids feel safe,” says Reimer. Roan Reimer and Jane Bouey / Moderator: Andrea Reimer

Public Education & Social Justice presentation


A clean energy revolution is underway. Jurisdictions ahead of the curve are well-positioned in economic terms and the switch is essential for climate action. Municipalities don’t have to wait. Many are finding innovative ways forward: from generating their own clean energy, to ambitious retro-fit programs, to effective use of by-laws and zoning: case studies from BC communities. Darrell Mussatto, Janice Morrison, and Kate Marsh

Darrell Mussatto’s presentation
Janice Morrison’s presentation
Kate Marsh’s presentation

Back to top


March 21, 2015, Saturday, 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm

Climate action is an incredibly important public dialogue, particularly this spring, as discussions heat up on the Road to Paris and the UN Climate discussions for the Kyoto protocols replacement. The concept of environmental rights is timely and the Blue Dot Tour has been generating local coverage and public discussion. In this workshop, environmental lawyer David Boyd lays out the case for environmental rights and leaders from municipalities who have already tabled declarations speak to the next steps. David Boyd, Jeremy Loveday and Harold Steves.

David Boyd’s presentation
Jeremy Loveday’s presentation
Harold Steves’s presentation


From Bill 27 that supports local governments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving energy, and working towards creating green and sustainable communities, to climate action legislation requiring BC local governments to set GHG reduction targets, this session explores the next steps forward for BC’s action plan. Josha MacNab, Richard Walton, Andrea Reimer, and Karen Tam Wu.

Josha MacNab’s presentation


From increasing pressure on students to perform, to ESL programming and exhausted parental fundraisers, not to mention the latest Provincial Budget, resources are stretched. Meanwhile, the Washington Supreme Court had ruled that funding for the K-12 system there is completely inadequate and must be remedied, and Canada has a forgotten law on free, universal higher education. Katie Hyslop, Bill Tieleman, and Crawford Kilian.

Katie Hyslop’s presentation (may need Flash player)


Peer Power will explore the scope of individual councilors and councils to work with their umbrella peer organizations – their local government association, the Union of BC Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Sav Dhaliwal, Raymond Louie, and Chuck Puchmayr.

Sav Dhaliwal’s presentation
Raymond Louie’s presentation

Back to top

Featured Speakers

Jennie Moore and William Rees will be keynote speakers for Solutions for One Planet Living. Ms Moore is the Director for Sustainable Development and Environmental Stewardship at British Columbia Institute of Technology. She received the Environmental Citizenship Award in 1998. She published “Getting Serious about Sustainability: Exploring the Potential for One Planet Living in Vancouver”. Mr Rees is a human ecologist, ecological economist, Professor Emeritus and former Director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning in Vancouver, Canada, where his research and teaching focused on the biophysical prerequisites for sustainability in an era of accelerating ecological change. He is best known in ecological economics as the originator and co-developer of ‘ecological footprint analysis.


175 x 175 - lysyk_bBonnie Lysyk is the Auditor General of Ontario. She recently published her annual report critiquing Ontario governance on issues such as private-public partnership that cost taxpayers at least $8 billion more in borrowing and other expenses than if they had been publicly funded.


seth_web_2012_2_smallSeth Klein is the BC Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a public policy research institute committed to social and economic justice. Seth is co-chair of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, a board member of the Canada Without Poverty Advocacy Network, and an advisor and instructor for Next Up, a leadership program for young people committed to social and environmental justice.

Charles MontgomeryCharles Montgomery is an author, urbanist and leader of transformative conversations about well-being in cities. His award-winning book, Happy City, examines the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness. Montgomery has created experiments and design methods that help participants alter their relationships with their cities, and with each other. www.thehappycity.com


Back to top

Full Conference Agenda

High Ground : Tools for Inspired Leaders

About Centre for Civic Governance

The Centre for Civic Governance works to support community leadership meeting today’s social and environmental challenges: climate change, Canada’s increasing equity gap, and shifting social trends. At the Centre for Civic Governance, our goal is to strengthen Canadian communities through sharing best practices, providing tools for locally elected leaders, and progressive policy analysis. We strive to provide knowledge and information to make real and positive social change.