Featuring Danny Bridson, Urban Planner & Designer, Mandaworks; Nicole Harper, Editor-in-Chief, Digital Future Society; Marnie McGregor, Urban Affairs Advisor; and Charlotte Mitchell, Infrastructure Planner, Quod
Cities in the Time of COVID-19: What Can We Learn from Canadian City Builders Working Abroad?
A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation
1. COVID-19 is driving digital transformation
COVID-19 has catalyzed digital transformation in all industries. This raises the question as to how increased technological usage can coincide with inclusion, livability and privacy. Panelists discussed a technological humanist approach, in which technological integration is people-centered and technological design is society-centered.
2. Trust in government
The panelists observed that in many ways, COVID-19 has increased the trust that people have in their governments. In Stockholm, communities are not going against the Swedish government’s “try this out and see what happens” approach, while separatism sentiment appears to have been toned down in Barcelona.
3. Pre-existing conditions
COVID-19 has affected almost every city in the world, but its impact has varied. The panelists suggest that decades of good city planning initiatives have helped certain cities adapt more quickly while poor city planning has exacerbated problems in others.
4. A moment of opportunity
Many governments are taking this time to improve their cities. For example, in Athens the government is completing sewer works and have paved over 80 roads while lockdown measures are in place. They are also allowing main street patios and terraces to expand, in order to maintain their capacity while meeting social distancing guidelines.
5. Solidarity and resilience
The panelists agreed that places that have gone through previous crises could be better prepared to handle the impacts of COVID-19. One of the panelists highlighted how Greece’s recent emergence from a significant economic crisis strengthened personal and community resilience.
Coronavirus is not fuel for urbanist fantasies, Alissa Walker, Curbed
Will Pandemics End Megacities, The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVO
How Smart City Planning Could Slow Future Pandemics, Emma Grey Ellis, Wired
Why did European leaders’ approval ratings rise during lockdown, Matthew Holyrod, Euronews.com
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Manual editing was undertaken in an effort to improve readability and clarity. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “transcription” in the subject line.
Mary Rowe [00:00:39] Good afternoon, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from CUI, welcome to City Talk. It’s midday here in Toronto and we are talking today with them participants who are in a European time zone. So it’s sort of late afternoon there. So much so that one of them has actually produced an appealing libation to accompany her participation today, which we’ll show you when I introduce her. But I just want to say that we’re very, very excited about this session. And it’s going to be very you know, we started the city talks five weeks ago. This is our twenty second and maybe it was six weeks ago. Time flies when you’re having COVID. And it’s been interesting for us because when we started, it was kind of grim and rainy. And now it’s a gorgeous weather is starting to come in. So we’ll be interested to see whether people will continue to do sign on to city talks or whether they’re going to, in fact, prefer to be outside in the nice weather and maybe they’ll be watching us late at night. But that’s great, because the good thing is we tape these sessions and so people can go back and watch them later and have an opportunity to benefit not only from what the panelists say, but also all the fascinating comments that are offered in the chat. So if you’re coming into city talk for the first time, welcome. We get several hundred on these things which we’re delighted about because we all need to make sense of what we’re experiencing and what we’re seeing. Today we’re so fortunate to have four folks who are going to speak to us about particular things they’re seeing in the cities that they happen to be working in. But they’re all expat Canadians. And so that’s a thrill for us and to have them joining us. I’ll lay out a little bit more about each of them when we when I call them. But just to say that the these candid conversations, we videotape them and then we post them afterwards. And we hope that everyone will continue to participate with us at hashtag city talk, because these are really intended as the beginning of a conversation not the end. And it’s an all hands on deck moment as we know it. CUI, we’ve put up some platforms, during COVID so we can actually watch what’s going on in cities and share city watch Canada, City Share Canada and this one is City Talk Canada. And we always want to acknowledge that this is no substitute or intended in any way to distract people from thousands of Canadians that cont and people in the cities that these folks are working in who continue to be focused on saving people’s lives and keeping people safe. And that is the number one task. And municipalities and communities have been on the front lines and they continue to be on that going forward. So we always want to acknowledge that. The other thing is that we’re originating today in Toronto, which is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Annishnabec, and Chippewa and the Haudenasaunee and the Wendat peoples. And it’s now home to many diverse First Nations Inuit and Metis peoples from across Turtle Island. We also acknowledge that Toronto was covered by Treaty 13, signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams treaties which were signed with multiple Annishnabec, nations. And we are conscious of our heritage and our ancestry. And are we as settlers, what our obligation is to trying to actually come to terms with and reconcile with the history that we have and we are hoping to have more indigenous participation in sessions. I had an inquiry from someone yesterday who wants to put together a particular section on how this is being experienced in key indigenous communities, particularly the urban communities around the country. So that’ll be coming up. The today we have these four and the Canadian Urban Institute has is 30 years old and it’s led international programs for many years. In fact, it was founded in 1990. And a lot of it’s work for the first two decades was international work around urban development and sharing Canadian expertise about how we build communities and cities with other parts of the world, particularly when the Berlin Wall fell and different parts of Asia and the Caribbean. And two of our participants today were actually interns on a CUI project in Jamaica, which is terrific. And we’re Danny and Nicole and we’re just delighted to see you. You know, I have only been in this job for a number of months and I continue to run into people who of varying ages and stages who will say, oh, yeah, I did an internship at the CUI or I had a project with the CUI. And I think that, you know, CUI is in the connective tissue business as people on these webinars know, I emphasize. And we have been doing that for years. And now we’re getting really explicit about how do we create peer to peer learning opportunities of city builders working in different places so that Charlottetown can learn from what’s going on in Nelson and how do we actually accelerate our add up to our capacity to adapt and be innovative. And that’s what we’ve been doing during cold. It is trying to create opportunities for that, for us to learn from each other and hopefully adapt more quickly. So that’s why we’re so happy to have you four on, because we know that you’re going to give it to a straight what you’ve been seeing, what’s been working, what what do you think hasn’t been working? And then what do you see as the implications for urban life? You’re each in different sectors. I don’t know your backgrounds. I’m hoping you’re going to tell me a little about I don’t know whether you have training in particular a particular discipline or whether you’re a generalist. Like what? But we’re interested to hear from you why you’re where you are. How are you? How did you get there? And what have you been doing? And then what are you seeing? So as I said, thanks for coming on. And if people who are listening, if you could in the chat function, please, if you could direct your comments to panelists and everyone so that everybody gets a chance to see what you’re saying, because what we find is in these chat functions, these chat boxes, lots of people answer each other’s questions and they put up great resources. And the old adage, just remember what goes in the chat, stays in the chat because we post the chats. So afterwards. So just be careful. Watch. Be careful what you wish for. You’re gonna put some in that chat. It’s going to stay in that chat. The other thing is we’d love to hear where you’re watching from. Because we have participants here from other parts of the world and four different cities. Why don’t you check in and just tell us? I see. Nadine, for instance, is checking in from Riga. Great to have unity and great. So people are starting to do that. It’s helpful to the panelist to see. But let’s all just see who our community is. The other thing is I just want to acknowledge that CUI continues to have international program with something called the International Urban Cooperation Program, and we’re part of that. That’s a global movement to try to strengthen learning relationships between cities in other parts of the world. And Lisa Cavicchia, our staff member leads that for CUI, has worked on it for many years, knows these interns from when when they were a bit younger and and she has been the one to help us put this session because. Lisa, hats off to you. Thanks so much. CUI wants to continue to build connective tissue within the Canadian framework, but also with partners and city builders in other parts of other cities around the world. So how much of a treat is it for us to have you four joining us? So I’m going to ask you each for a little 90 seconds on why are there you can do. You can go to MIT, Stephen, on why you’re there. What you’re what you’re what took you there, what you’ve been what your job is, I guess. And then and then what have you been seeing? So many. Marnie, let’s go to you first in Athens.
Marnie McGregor [00:07:37] Thanks. Thanks, Mary. And thanks, said Canadian Urban Institute. This is a fantastic series and I’ve been following along from Athens at the time zones that I can. And yeah, great to see everyone level at the expat Canadian connection. So I had the good fortune of being married to a Greek Canadian. My husband is a freelance writer and editor and he’s been we’ve been spending six months a year or so here for the last couple of years. And I used to work for the city of Vancouver in intergovernmental relations and a year ago made the leap into consulting. So we’ve been doing urban affairs consulting. I’m an urban planner. Good old University of Toronto graduate and also went to. So I have communications, government relations backgrounds. So I’ve kind of become a bit of a honk, I guess is the term, not a hack and not a wonk. So I’m sort of a honk. Yeah. Maybe not that flattering, but it’s a niche that I found, which is really fantastic. So I’ve been doing lots of work for European, particularly in the climate sector. So sustainable cities, resilient cities, climates, net zero cities, etc. So lots of exciting work with that. And lucky for me, I get to keep up my connections with Canadian clients. And I’m doing some work right now, mostly with the Global Covenant of Mayors. And they’re based in Brussels, but they represent over 10000 cities, big and small, fighting for climate action. So that’s there in Brussels. But I’m in Athens right now because I’ve covered so all exciting work all around.
Mary Rowe [00:09:14] Great. OK. Why don’t we do that, we’ll get some we’ll just get general bios from each of you and then I want to zero in on what you’re seeing in code did. So, Danny, talk to us about you.
Danny Bridson [00:09:24] Yes. Thank you, Mary. And it’s very nice to be back with the Canadian Urban Institute, as you mentioned. I was an intern all those years ago. And actually, I must say that while I was in Jamaica, it was when I was actually filling in the application to study in my master’s program in Sweden. So I’m joining now from Stockholm. Of course. So I came over to Sweden to study for my master’s degree in sustainable urban design at the University of Lund, which is in southern Sweden, near across the bridge from Copenhagen. And that was a little bit influenced by some of the reading I was doing at the time, Young Cattails, who was in Copenhagen, and I discovered this university in Lund. So I kind of got caught up in the ideas of Scandinavian Scandinavian urbanism and I wanted to come taste it for myself. I studied in Lund for a couple of years and then since then, for the last six years, I’ve been in Stockholm working for a urban design and landscape architecture studio called Mandaworks. We’re based in Stockholm. We actually have an office. A colleague of mine sits in Montreal. We’re doing projects around the world, mostly in the Nordic regions. But like I said, we tried to get around whenever we can and work on projects in China and North America and other parts of Europe.
Mary Rowe [00:10:46] Great. And where are you from originally, Dan?
Danny Bridson [00:10:49] Well, I’m I’m a bit of a mix of British citizenship, which is one of the reasons it allowed me to study in Sweden, actually. So I was born in England in the south coast, moved to Canada when I was 13, lived there until my mid-twenties, and then moved back to Europe. So I’ve I’ve been bouncing back and forth over the Atlantic Ocean my whole life, basically.
Mary Rowe [00:11:10] And you have. I was trying to spot your accent because I can. You can have it. I wondered, actually, if you might have been from Newfoundland, because there are people in England that have a bit of an Irish little people.
Danny Bridson [00:11:20] I often confuse do with my accent. I’ve been accused of having a mid-Atlantic accent. I have a bit of my British accent still, but then it’s been worn away by living in Canada. And then maybe now even Sweden. It’s a mess.
Mary Rowe [00:11:33] I’m waiting for you to say at the end of a sentence and then you’re sitting in. OK. Charlotte, let’s go to you in London and just show the beverage that I was teasing you about, because we during the tech check, we did talk about it is cocktail hour in Britain.
Charlotte Mitchell [00:11:46] Yeah. It’s it’s my tenth cup so that you can identify me as the one in England. So, yeah. So I’m originally from Vancouver, but I moved to London in 2011 to do a master’s here to study to become an urban planner. I had studied environmental science for my undergrad, but wanted to move into urbanism. And I’ve been here ever since. So my whole kind of career in urbanism has been in the UK. And I’m looking forward to hearing a bit about Canadian context. Sometimes I feel like I lose touch with what’s going on in Canada, actually. So to be right to have conversation around. And I work as an urban planner for a planning consultancy called Quod, and I primarily work in infrastructure. So I work on getting consent for a nationally significant infrastructure projects like airport expansions or new railway or a new station on the underground. And I’m on the National Infrastructure Commission, young professionals panel because of that tie to infrastructure. So I’m just generally into infrastructure. It’s pretty cool. And my professional like world doesn’t really focus on that sort of stuff that’s going on with it. But it is every you know, everyone’s talking about it. So it’s been really interesting to kind of bridge that gap and understand what it means for infrastructure, which on the face of it, you know, maybe there isn’t the kind of direct link that there is to housing where there is to open space. But there’s definitely link so been an interesting time to be in infrastructure and in London too the urban density. And the UK has definitely had a lot to deal with, a lot on its hands with the virus.
Mary Rowe [00:13:27] OK. Nicole, let’s hear from you at last, but never least.
Nicole Harper [00:13:33] Thanks, Mary, and thank you so much for inviting me to to present in the webinar. It’s really great to see all of you and to be here with you. Well, I’m originally from Hamilton, Ontario, and I attended the internship in Jamaica with Danny as well. And actually we, without knowing each other, applied to the same university. So I also attended Lund University. So that was a parallel path with Danny and although on a different program. So my background is in sustainable development. I did a Masters for two years in environmental economics at the International Institute based in Lund, and I spent three years there in total. And while I was doing my graduate thesis on my master’s thesis, I stumbled upon through my research an urban innovation startup called City Mark. And that is what brought me to Barcelona. So my trajectory really was an urban innovation, sustainability. And I have been working ever since. In the private sector. And now I’m back in kind of a hybrid of a public private foundation that deals with tech policy and digital transformation. And that’s called Mobile World Capital Barcelona. Maybe some of you are familiar with the Mobile World Congress. It’s one of the world’s biggest tech fairs for mobile technology here in Barcelona. Over one hundred thousand people come. Obviously not this year, but every year to the city. So it’s it’s quite a tech hub. And that’s a huge part of Barcelona’s identity and self promotion to have that technological spirit. So that’s what I’m working in. And that’s what I am passionate about. And it’s great to be here with all this again.
Mary Rowe [00:15:18] It’s great to have all of you. And I’m interested about how each of you is acclimating to the the place of the world in which you’re living now. And I can hear it in the inflection in your voices. So it’s tremendous. And it does. It does tune one’s ear. Some of us have that thing, you know. I honestly, I can get on the telephone with somebody from Britain. And then within 20 minutes, I’ve started to get a bit of a British accent myself. You know, so I I know that we’re all, you know, susceptible to our environments, which is part of why urbanism matters, is that the spatial environment that surrounds you and the people that surround you have an impact on how you see the world. So let’s get to thinking a little bit together about what you’ve seen. I can give you a little quick, you know, 10 second overview in Canada. What we would say is that the things that were dysfunctional in urban life before COVID have just become way more exaggerated and exacerbated. Off the charts, I use this expression which I stole from Eric Klinenberg that it’s a partic particle accelerator. And so here we are now with vulnerable populations that were just disproportionately affected. Systems that weren’t functioning at high levels are now really not functioning, and municipal governments don’t have the money that they need to be able to actually provide. Well, they’re just basically going in higher and higher levels of debt. So I think it’s I think it’s a wakeup call for urbanists to try to figure our way out of this as we come out of COVID. How are we or as we continue to live with COVID, can we get down to the business of building cities and making the interventions that we’ve all known in Europe? You’re a young folk who’ve just come out of school. Some of you, you know that there are things that could be done that would make our cities better. And is there a do we have a window to actually do them? I guess. So I want to hear from each of you, if you can. What do you think the particular challenge is that you observed, you know, when you call home and your family says, OK, what are you dealing with? Marnie, what do you say? What’s the number one thing that you would observe out of Athens and in the part of Europe that you have access to? What do you think?
Marnie McGregor [00:17:28] I would say in a word, it is resilience, because Greece, as you may know or many people know that it just had to come out of was emerging from a decade long, you know, significant economic crisis. So they had a new prime minister that was voted in just a year ago, just under a year ago, and a new mayor in the last year who happens to be the nephew of the current prime minister. So a lot of Greek dynasty politics.
Mary Rowe [00:17:55] Handy but?
Marnie McGregor [00:17:58] Yes, it is for intergovernmental, for sure. But I’ve been noticing and my husband’s writing about this as a freelance writer, but we’ve noticed this and definitely been talking about this quite a bit. There’s quite a bit of international media about it now as well that, you know, in some ways, despite the the crisis that the fact that the health crisis is and there’s a migrant crisis. And on top of that, this pandemic. In some ways, Greeks have been, you know, almost prepared a little more for this, I think, in many ways.
Mary Rowe [00:18:31] How do you mean it?
Marnie McGregor [00:18:32] So personal resilience. So, you know, sort of sacrifice has been a significant amount of. I think Canadians and North Americans particularly, you know, we haven’t we we’re not used to seeing kind of shortages or runs on money and EMS and things. And that actually didn’t happen here. So the grocery shelves were always stocked. People were very organized, very disciplined with very tight restrictions that came in. But I think there was sort of, you know, a collective, you know, we can do this. They wanted to be proud of the country for their response. And they were very proud to see a government. Having the state step back in in a way that they hadn’t seen to see government playing a role in a leadership role, just like, you know, Dr. Bonnie Henry, NBC and many of the scientists. They’ve got six o’clock news every day. Every day. They’ve gone down to twice a week now. But the lead scientist did a press conference. And Greeks, you know, it was must watch TV. And, you know, I think that the faith in the state and the collective will and the ability to see the numbers and the you know, there was wasn’t even really a curve to begin with. And they flattened it very quickly. So I think that the economic crisis and I can we can talk a little bit more about this as well. But, you know, delivery service, like, for example, local businesses, we’re used to doing takeout delivery, very small amounts two euros for a coffee, Frito cappuccino. But they you know, they adapted really quickly. I think in some certain situations and municipalities, you know, not having a lot of money, just like many. But they’ve they’ve done very innovative things like paved 80 roads in the last two months and done sewer works while, there was no traffic. So I think they’ve been, you know, adapting and because perhaps. And the worry is that the economic crisis will be so significant coming out of this. But I think there has been collective resilience. I would say.
Mary Rowe [00:20:33] You know, can we I just want to riff on that for a minute about the resilience idea. You know, I was in Orleans for that very formative period of my professional life that’s informed a lot of how I think now. And I watched how, as you suggest, personal resilience worked at the individual and household level. So. But, you know, there was pushback from communities still in New Orleans who resented being taught labeled resilient because they thought that just basically gave us permission to do something more nasty to them because we’re going to have resilient there. But you’re right that I wonder if Europe. And I’m sure my colleagues, do you think that the European culture not to be too generalizing here, has more visceral familiarity with scarcity, with systems breaking down? So did it mean that you that they were more psychologically prepared? Do you think?
Charlotte Mitchell [00:21:25] I think in London. Yeah, I felt as as well that people have been very resilient, that communities especially have really been. It almost feels like I’ve been waiting for something like this to bring them together in a way that, you know, they hearken back a lot to like the war effort or having to deal with rations or those kinds of times when things are tough and you’ve got to pull together and that messaging comes through in the government messaging. And, you know, communities, WhatsApp groups really quickly. And there were more offers of help than there were people to take them up, for sure.
Mary Rowe [00:21:58] Charlotte, do you think that the Brits were ready for some kind of unified message because you’ve been tearing each other apart for the last three?
Charlotte Mitchell [00:22:04] Oh, yeah. It is interesting. It feels like very much at that local level. It has really brought people together. But then again, are sort of the things that we’ve been teret tearing each other apart about have been sort of polarised, you know, regionally versus in cities anyway. So kind of hard to say. In Albany, physically squeezed together.
Mary Rowe [00:22:28] So it has COVID, has COVID. I mean, you know, we we watch the Brexit thing with great fascination here, the same way we watch the political dynamics in the US with great fascination. I was trying to pick my words carefully. But, you know, it had it did have a kind of urban rural divide, didn’t it? The Brexit discourse. And yet here we are with a pandemic that is affecting communities of all sizes, but we are seeing narratives that start to be anti-city again. But have you has it stitched together a new narrative for sort of Britain in the future?
Charlotte Mitchell [00:23:06] I think I mean, you know, you were kind of asking Marnie, what’s the one thing that sort of characterizes and I think what was popping into my mind was these tensions, right, like tensions between the housing crisis that we have that we’ve all been talking about for a long time across Britain. You know, in London, it’s very bad, but it is across Britain. And dealing with that, you know, again, going into a recession, people are talking about housebuilding. Solving the housing crisis is a potential thing to to tackle the kind of recession you might be facing at the same time, especially low density, especially special city building. These things are at odds with each other. And we’re seeing it more like it’s it’s really kind of embodied in discussions about public transit right now, which in London we have a congestion zone charge in the center of London. You know, it costs money to drive into the center of London. That was an effort that we wanted to remove vehicles from from the center. It’s been very effective. And they actually disapplied that under stricter lockdown because they felt like if you can’t take the tube and you’re needing to get into work.
Mary Rowe [00:24:06] Got to get in there.
Charlotte Mitchell [00:24:07] Get in there. So they disapplied it. And then, as I think it was two days ago, they reapplied it and tightened it, because now people are talking about turning and turning streets into cycle lanes and into pedestrianising them. I think the big theme of, you know, kind of one of the one of the big urban themes, I think, coming out of it. And there’s just this weird tension where it’s like they disapplied it for six weeks. And then when they turn it on, they turn it on even higher than it was before. Yeah.
Mary Rowe [00:24:35] And so people and people are people with that decision. Do they feel comfortable with that decision or are they saying, wait a second, we’re still.
Charlotte Mitchell [00:24:44] It depends if you have a car. It is very split. Right. So on the articles that I’m reading about, the kind of decisions the city of London is actually a borough in London and they’re one of the first ones to have an active plan where they published a map. These are the roads closed to cars. And that’s generating, of course, huge debate. You know, for the most part, people who work in the financial sector are able to work from home right now. But as they start to ease the lockdown, as tensions become very real, should you know, we are hugely reliant in London about on our train network our rail network, as well as the tube network to get people in. You know, just flooded in on those trains.
Mary Rowe [00:25:23] Right. Did the train and the tube can ever. The question for everybody. Has your transit of your transit systems all stayed up and they’ve all been operating? And are they all still free or are people charging now or are you back to charging?
Marnie McGregor [00:25:37] Athens continued charging.
Mary Rowe [00:25:39] Always charged. Right. OK. What about you, Charlotte? In London.
Charlotte Mitchell [00:25:43] Yet they continue to charge and they’re already limited service. And now they’ve they’ve reopened. I think most tube stations. But there’s two things, people regulating social distancing.
Mary Rowe [00:25:52] And so there are fewer people in the trains of cars. Right. And what about you in Stockholm? What have they done there around transit?
Danny Bridson [00:26:00] The transit is kept running and they they’ve maintained charging. I think on some buses to minimize interaction with the driver that you didn’t have to pay. But the way the fare system works in Stockholm, it’s kind of like you tap your card and then you’re in the system. So I think in the end,.
Mary Rowe [00:26:16] Already it was contactless?
Danny Bridson [00:26:18] Yeah. I mean, actually, that maybe would go be very much what I would say about how. I mean, I maybe I’m in a unique situation here because I think in all the other cities, I mean Stockholm hasn’t had a lockdown actually.
Mary Rowe [00:26:30] Yeah. So. We want to hear about that.
Danny Bridson [00:26:32] Yeah. So in in in Stockholm it’s a strange experience because actually in many ways you haven’t really felt the full effect of the of the carnivores too much since there has been of course, changes in the way that people are behaving and there’s been recommendations from the government. But in many ways, life has continued as normal. And it’s been interesting to actually see that be discussed in the international media, which Sweden is usually not so spoken about.
Mary Rowe [00:27:06] So it’s really a population of Stockholm is?
Danny Bridson [00:27:10] It depends on the city itself. Is it getting close to $1 million. The metropolitan is maybe one point five. So it’s also a smaller city when we compared to Athens or London or Barcelona and to many in many ways, the way that the city functions plays into kind of the the social distancing rules, too.
Mary Rowe [00:27:33] I think Swedes Swedes don’t really want to hug each other a lot.
Danny Bridson [00:27:37] That’s the stereotype. Right. And I would say I’ve lived in Sweden for eight years. And it’s true. It’s definitely true. But I mean, people respect, you know, respect each other’s distances in general. And so, I mean, of course, there’s been regulations have been passed down, but they’re more like guidelines. I would say Marnie, you mentioned resiliance. I would say for Sweden, maybe the big word or the takeaway would be trust, because it’s been quite remarkable to see how trusting the population has been towards the government’s guidelines and recommendations towards the coronavirus. You would think if a government says, hey, look, we’re going to kind of try this out and see what happens, which is basically how many people describe the Swedish approach that there would be groups within that population that would stand up and say, hey, this isn’t good. We don’t like it and cause problems.
Mary Rowe [00:28:29] Michigan. Michigan.
Danny Bridson [00:28:32] Yeah, but there’s basically been none of that. And I live in the epicenter of the Corona outbreak in Sweden, like Stockholm is where it is. It is badly hit.
[00:28:40] And where is it? Danny, is it in long term care facilities and is it. Is it in shelters and things like that in concentrated areas or do they know any pattern?
Danny Bridson [00:28:49] The place where the Swedish authorities are now stepping forward and saying like we’ve made a huge mistake was in elderly care homes. And I think they’ll see in the long run, maybe that will really be a terrible thing. There has already been quite a number of deaths because of it. But the also the Swedish approach is that over the long term, they think that everyone is going to be in the same boat. And actually, they’re kind of playing the long game. That’s that’s politically how they are saying. But what I meant about the city itself when I think of Stockholm is it’s a city where people bike. It’s a city where there’s a lot of parks. It’s a city that has a density. But it’s you know, it’s it’s it’s a bit lower. It’s lower scale than maybe a London or definitely an Athens or Barcelona. I mean, it has an urban fabric which somehow allows you to move through without coming into contact. Lots people. And I feel like my life personally. I mean, you meet your friends less than you. I mean, there’s a lot of things you don’t do. But in many ways, I’m working from home. But life goes on maybe quite like it did before, which has been strange, maybe a bit of guilt somehow when I talk to others.
Mary Rowe [00:30:02] Survivor guilt, you know, like, well. Go ahead, what were you going to say.
Danny Bridson [00:30:07] I was going to say that I actually had a Skype call with a Canadian colleagues and I showed up with a haircut. And for ten minutes, the conversation was about that people were quite provoked.
Mary Rowe [00:30:21] Envy and provoked. I don’t know what they call. I want to go to Nicole next. And, you know, it’s interesting that the issues you guys were all raising around resilience and tensions and then trust. And I’m interested to in. Are there things to be. Watched and paid attention to around urban form and size. So are we saying if a city is or a unit, the optimal unit is, what is it? Vancouver has done quite well. Marnie, your hometown and it’s small. It’s a small city. And is that versus Montreal? That’s been significantly challenged. And it’s and it’s it’s density, though, is not high tower density predominantly know. So we’ll get into these things when you’re some of your planners. But let’s let’s hear from you, Nicole, in terms of if you had to take one take away, as your colleagues have, what would it be in Barcelona, do you think?
Nicole Harper [00:31:12] I think the word that comes to mind for me is one of solidarity and also resilience, but especially solidarity in Barcelona. Maybe some of you know, the mayor Ada Colau now, she comes from a background of activism. She is very pro-solidarity and her policies and in her speeches. So I think that has a lot to do with someone as far as the city speaking for the city, that’s maybe not so much the citizens reaction and response to the pandemic. I was looking into what kind of responses the city itself was giving in there. A lot of really great initiatives, especially for children. And I mean, the mayor has two children of her own. She’s a mom. Like she knows what parents are going through. People live in small apartments in Barcelona. There are there are very few houses like we’re used to in Canada with a backyard. And we have one of the strictest lockdowns you can imagine. And these parents are trying to work from home. So you can imagine that I mean, that the fact that the mayor is aware of this and that’s one of the first things you demanded let the children out, at least if you can’t let the adults. So I think that attitude of solidarity and just kind of she’s a citizen, too, and she knows what we’re going through is very powerful and very, very strong here. And one other takeaway I had was when, Charlotte, you were talking about how unfortunately it takes these circumstances like these to get sort of more unity after division. The same thing happened here with Catalonia and the separatist movement, which was it went through another surge just before this crisis. I mean, you had people burning container’s streets. It looked like there were bomb explosions, you know, the days after. And now you really see people kind of listening to the government for being in Catalonia. That’s I mean, a big deal. And actually, the protests you’re seeing now after two months of lockdown are in Madrid and you would expect to see them here in Barcelona. People are really there’s this culture of neighborly solidarity, which I would have to say is my main take.
Mary Rowe [00:33:18] You know, I wonder if some of this is the magic of localism. You know, that somehow when we see it of something affecting our neighbors, are we more willing to lock arms with social distancing than if it’s more abstract? I don’t know. I’m I’m playing with that in my own mind. Trying to understand, because you just suggested this, Danny, that people have been remarkably trusting and they and they as you say, the suggestion that people are just you said money. The people listen to the signs that are happening here, too. You know, every every almost every Canadian knows who Bonnie Henry is. And they know that there’s a fluevog shoe named after her. You know, gets she’s become a pop culture person. And it’s been an interesting process to see that people are willing to do it. Now, that may start to fray. I’m wondering, you know, and we’re seeing it fraying south of the border. But do you think some of it is the power of local leadership? Sounds to me like each of you is citing a mayor or a particular local thing. What about you? Charlotte Let let’s talk about that because you use a different structure. London is that dominant unit in your mayor has a different configuration. So tell us.
Charlotte Mitchell [00:34:32] Yeah. And it’s been interesting because the mayoral election was supposed to be this month. Actually, it’s been postponed for a year. Right. Some Sadiq Khan is our mayor, and he is now not up for reelection until next year. So that’s a whole other interesting thing. But I think that in the like, actually in the discourse, the city has been relatively quiet. He has been there. You know, if you are reading about transport because he’s the head of transport for London or, you know, you can read what he’s saying, of course. But it’s definitely been the message from Boris and his cabinet. And I find it interesting, especially in London, you know, up until now, of course, there’s been a lot of criticism, of Boris. And during this, it’s kind of become quite quiet. I think there is the sort of sense of like we have no idea what to do. We are looking for leadership. This is a moment where leadership is so important and like a joined up message and a government that isn’t, you know, a coalition that is saying different things and kind of using it to get to different political ends. I think people are really grateful to have a single strong majority. Same thing. And so maybe that is partly why we know, but maybe that’s partly why Sadiq has been a little bit more ignored because it’s sort of like this isn’t time for labor there to be say “actually, I disagree with the kind of central government we should be doing something else”. It’s just we want clarity. We want a message which is like, here’s how we are as a nation going to get through this. And it’s been kind of interesting that people have sort of shut up about the criticisms of us for this time. For the most part, there’s still definitely criticism, but it’s a lot wider.
Mary Rowe [00:36:08] Yeah. Danny and Marnie, would you talk to us about local leadership? Has that been important in your in your particular purview? Yeah. Marnie, what can you tell us?
Marnie McGregor [00:36:18] Yeah, I mean, I’m a bit biased because I work with mayors on a daily basis and I see how important they are in that. And I really have noticed Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis here in Athens, young, not just from the political dynasty, but like tremendous leadership and coordinated with that. And here there’s not so much the state or provincial government. So it’s it’s much more centralized. So that also helps. It’s a small country. Eleven million people. Athens Metropolitan is 4 million, 4.5 million. And there’s it’s not amalgamated. So it’s very similar to B.C., where there’s like 22 municipalities of Athens itself proper is actually quite small geographically. But he’s on the world stage as part of C40. He’s part of jicama is part of, you know, the resulting cities, networks and all these things. So but he has been like very prominent on Instagram and all in his perview, like, you know, disinfecting of the streets. And it’s his name day today, which means, you know, it’s like a birthday. And he got like a sanitation truck for his like a miniature one. And he’s, you know, like he’s he’s all about. This is a massive announcement last week in The Guardian and in The New York Times and other places about this called Great Walk. And it’s a tremendous initiative similar to what you’re seeing in Paris and Berlin and other places, along with green streets, you know, car free areas and bold, bold leadership from him in the purview of, you know, this isn’t a pandemic, this is an emergency or physical distancing. We really want to see, you know, space for pedestrians. And he’s, you know, getting rid of graffiti and he’s lighting the streets and he’s opening up the center of Monia Square that’s been under renovation for 10 years. So, you know, in the purview of urban intervention, he has been tremendous. And he’s using the green recovery hashtag to to amplify that. So I think to me and I’ve seen this around the world and I think, you know, when you see an absence in some ways of national leadership or straw strong leadership and guidance, you know, mayors are really stepping up. That’s that’s that’s what I’ve seen.
Mary Rowe [00:38:28] I mean, I’m hoping that some of our chat fans are going to chime in about this, because I know that a lot of folks living in Canadian cities have a lot of envy about what’s going on in terms of public space re-allocation and the street program that Charlotte’s mentioned that you’ve mentioned. And it Danny, when you talk about Stockholm, you know, lots of people would envy Stockholm. Pre-COVID, did you know that you suggested you had livability amenities there that you made a commitment to in the two decades ago and now you’re reaping the benefits of those? Right.
Danny Bridson [00:38:59] You know, I think that’s a good way to put it, that it’s almost that there’s decades of good city planning decisions in a moment like this. I mean, it’s it’s not planned out for a pandemic, but it in a way, just by accident. It works out that way.
Mary Rowe [00:39:14] So maybe, you know, we talk about the malignant preexisting conditions, the things that we’re not working to get manifested, but maybe some of the positive preexisting conditions manifest, too. Right?
Danny Bridson [00:39:26] Yeah. Yeah, maybe. And it’s been interesting to see I’m thinking about public transport because, for example, in Stockholm, Stockholm has one of the highest commuter public transportation commuter rates in the world. I think a crazy high percentage of people find their way to work using metro or biking. But now, of course, people have been opting out of taking the metro, but instead they would change to bikes or. So I take my bike to work, for example, when I I do anyway. But I’ve seen that, for example, bike lanes have been much busier even though people have started to move towards working from home. You see people who are deciding when they make a transportation shift, they’re making it in the direction of bike. Now, that’s maybe anecdotal evidence based on me riding my bike. But I mean, in terms of the transportation choices that I’m seeing, I’m not seeing a lot more cars driving around, but I’m definitely seeing a lot more people on bikes walking around.
Mary Rowe [00:40:23] You know, I don’t know. Do you think. I mean, this is part of the question that everybody’s asking. You know, this note, this term sticky. When you have when you’re in a we were talking about how we’re in this big honkin global trunk. I can’t say honk anymore more. Big, sprawling global pilot like we are a pilot right now. And as opposed to the King Street pilot or the Times Square pilot. And are some of the things that we’re going to try. Is this a chance to try something that should stick? And I’m hearing you. I mean, active transportation is obviously one of the big, big opportunities. And you’ve got local leaders who are acting on it. It seems here there is more caution. Mm hmm. I don’t quite know if we understand what that’s about. You know that you. Charlotte, you mentioned that there was some pushback in terms of the congestion price, for instance, the congestion charge returning.
Charlotte Mitchell [00:41:16] Yeah. Yeah. There is some pushback. But again, it might come back too late. There’s also just not very much parking in central London because we’ve had a congestion zone charge and great public transport for a long time. Right. Kind of what Danny is talking about. You know, there’s these good decisions that have been made and they sort of filter through. And so that that the lobby is definitely still there for like, you know, the kind of. We should get rid of the congestion zone charge. But people are used to that, at least.
Mary Rowe [00:41:42] And if you had a…
Charlotte Mitchell [00:41:43] Yeah. And the argument is kind of around this like. But what about black cabs? You know, very British, right? London and the black cab lobby is very strong. And are those a good thing in the crisis? Because you don’t own a car and sometimes you do need to get from A to B and you can’t make that trip on public transport. And they need to drive it at road. Or are they a bad thing because they can spread the virus or, you know, there’s just sort of just not very clear what the direction trouble should be or not. So I think it’s it’s also hard to find when we just don’t know what the outcome. You know, are these temporary measures, are they permanent? Usually we have a very clear idea about God. And so that helps form the debate. You know, we’re gonna do this for six months. If it works, great will consult again. We can all decide we’re going to keep it or get rid of it. But with this, people are kind of not sure what the end game is.
Mary Rowe [00:42:38] I know it can’t because, you know, when when they all started to say the transit would be free. That they do via and entry and free. I just thought, well, why would you ever reintroduce a charge? Then why don’t you just leave transit free? Like it’s a it’s a bizarre thing because how are you gonna pay for it? But, you know, is that, in fact, ultimately what we should have is that transit B free forgetting about how you pay for it. You know what I mean? And similarly, when you’re converting roads, making it easier for biking, making it easier for different kinds of transportation. Isn’t aren’t we, in essence, bringing in temporarily what are probably important ingredients to making urban life really work.
Charlotte Mitchell [00:43:10] What is the future? Yeah, I think I mean, especially around like you really see people walking on the pavements and looking at how much space now designated for like a car that is empty and not doing anything. And before we just sort of accepted that. But right now, where, you know, it’s it’s potentially putting you at risk, it feels crazy. And I think that that message is lending strongly with a lot of people. Just give me that. I’m definitely recording only on the London context here. There’s a big difference between rulers and London.
Mary Rowe [00:43:40] But, you know, do you think we have the political will to actually find ways to pay for these services? And I guess it’s a question around infrastructure generally. Are we going to come through this? I mean, you were suggesting that Marnie that they’ve actually been building, they’ve been paving roads, they’ve been doing work through the pandemic. You think we’re going to come through this with a renewed commitment to building a certain kind of infrastructure green? Or is it is it is it going to be politically possible or is there’s gonna be tremendous pressure to build more roads? And what do people think?
Marnie McGregor [00:44:11] I hope so.
Mary Rowe [00:44:13] Yeah, you hope so. What? Which, Marnie?
Marnie McGregor [00:44:15] I hope so. I hope that it’ll it’ll shift. And I think it I hope it will be sticky. And I hope that like we’ve seen in Canada, you know, the minister of infrastructure, Catherine McKenna, you know, making some announcements about shovel worthy projects and not just shovel ready like I I’m hoping that there’ll be. And we’ve seen national governments for for Athens and Greeks. It’s a big deal because they’re getting included for the first time in euro bonds for debt that they never were like eligible for before. You know, the power in Spain, I’m sure I’m keen to hear from Nicole about that, because I think, you know, like Spain and Italy, like Southern and kind of Europeans, not lazy, hardworking and absolutely no need to have that kind of national and international level of support. There’s just no other way to do it, you need the dollars.
Mary Rowe [00:45:02] How are you covering the costs? You’re all of your municipalities must be spending like just hemorrhaging money like crazy. How are those costs being covered, Nicole? Well, how are they approaching it in Spain?
Nicole Harper [00:45:13] Well, I know that the city is dedicating specific amounts of money, probably unplanned in their budget to two things. And I I’m not aware of any specific plan on how they’re going to recoup those costs. But I do know that, for example, in Spain, there are a lot of freelance workers. It’s it’s something that’s kind of like a separate category of employment because there are just so many. And in the city, the city itself, well, there has been like subsidies from the national governments, but the city has been giving a one off 300 euro payment to all the self-employed workers, which is I think it’s great. They also have a.
Mary Rowe [00:45:48] Who want who offered that? Nicole, who’s offering that?
Nicole Harper [00:45:51] The city of Barcelona.
Mary Rowe [00:45:52] Wow. The city is paying money to freelancers.
Nicole Harper [00:45:56] It’s a. It’s to supplement the subsidy from the national government. That’s that freelancers are getting in small businesses. So it’s really. They’re not thinking of right now. Maybe they’re going to recoup those costs, but they just know that these people live at once. And they just need to make ends meet. And as well, they they have the city again. Twenty five million euro fund for SME’s. A lot of shops in bars that are small businesses. And they want to see those businesses survive that. Speaking of infrastructure, I think one of as you know, tourism is very important in Barcelona. And we’ve gone from over 30 million tourists a year to zero. And one of his priorities has been also that they want the restaurants and bars to keep the same amount of space, but still be able to essentially distance. So while they will dedicate more street space to more sustainable transportation modes, they will also allow terraces and patios to expand so that they can retain the same amount of capacity as before. And I think it’s a really interesting example of how different cities, different priorities are trying to put money where their mouth is.
Mary Rowe [00:47:06] You know, we’ve got something going on called Bring Back Main Street and we’re concerned about how do we what are the kinds of supports and environments, what are the enabling conditions to allow entrepreneurs and businesses to get back on their feet? Any other thinking on that, Danny, in terms of what it sounds to me as if you’re not because you haven’t locked down the way the others have, you may not be facing the same financial catastrophe that the rest of us are. Or are you.
Danny Bridson [00:47:30] Maybe not to the same extent at this moment. But I think, of course, there will be consequences that are in line with other countries and cities. Sweden, it’s a smaller country. There’s a population of 9 million people. Most of the also Stockholm’s the capital. So a lot of the funding is coming through the state. And there’s a long, long history and tradition in Sweden of the state being kind of the the social backbone. And I would actually it was interesting to hear Marnie Charlotte, Nicole, talk about the different local context, because I would say in Sweden, it’s much more based on that. You look to the government rather than your neighbor. And that’s very much the Swedish way, is that you don’t need a neighbor because the government’s there for you whenever you need it. And I mean, it shows up. It really is there for you when they say that. And I mean, that’s exaggerating a bit, but it’s not so far off the truth. So I haven’t felt much of a kind of this local search, but more kind of the representatives in on the state level coming forward and having to be much more accountable for the decisions are making at the national and state agencies, providing huge amounts of support to businesses and companies and saying they basically are trying to avoid layoffs. So they’re saying, look, we’ll pay your employees. I mean, we will cover the cost difference. Well, you can apply for this funding. And it’s basically all happening like this.
Mary Rowe [00:49:04] What about vulnerable populations, folks? Has there been has there been any kind of an adjustment to in terms of shelters, people that are mental health challenges, people that are street involved? How is the response work in those for those constituents?
Danny Bridson [00:49:24] Maybe I can just say very quickly, like I stole that from Lisa in the question that because in Stockholm one of the criticisms has been that in one of the outskirts or the suburban neighborhood, they are facing a higher pressure from the virus in other parts of the city. So it’s more their lower income neighborhoods there, maybe from immigrant backgrounds. And there has been some criticism, but I have not heard any response to it. To my knowledge, maybe there is. But it’s something that’s kind of a rising an emerging marriage.
Mary Rowe [00:50:00] Notably, we have an advocate here in Canada, Jake Gitter, a woman of color who is talking about forgotton densities and that there are wild densities being touted as the environmentally preferred option. There are people that are living in inadequately ventilated, overcrowded, no public entities, etc.. Marnie What about the vulnerable populations and Athens? Have. Has there been?
Marnie McGregor [00:50:20] Yeah, it’s been really impressive. Early on, the national government and the local governments put together hotlines for mental health issues for people of all ages. Focused on seniors, focused on youth of all ages. Definitely focused. They’ve also opened up. They just had the mayor just toured the new president, first female president ever of the country. The last couple of days, a big facility downtown Athens for homeless. I think that 400 beds and I do some volunteer work with refugees, unaccompanied minor refugee children who up to 18 years old. And they are all you know, there’s lots of them that are homeless but like the foundations have really kicked in and and found shelter, IKEA Foundation, for example, and others have found shelter. So there’s been considering that Greek culture is very much about family and you sort of keep look after your own. And, you know, you don’t you don’t necessarily think people don’t necessarily think about the homeless population in the same way that we might in Canada. You don’t see the kind of street homelessness, but there’s been a really impressive focus on that.
Mary Rowe [00:51:29] So if you if you were thinking now based on your practice and how you’re applying your various skills and your perspective, this is going to be an event that’s going to shape the future of your work life. As I said, I was forty five in New Orleans through Katrina, and that had an indelible impact on my appreciation for how I think community based resilience emerges because I watched it. So if you think about that, as you continue in your professional lives, wherever you end up living, wherever whatever you end up doing. Are there takeaways that you feel now you need to champion? That’s going to inform your work, whatever your next job is, whatever wherever your next gig is. I guess you have a sense of that, or is it too early to know? Nicole.
Nicole Harper [00:52:15] Oh mine is a big yes because and I can give a very concrete example. As I mentioned, I work in tech and digital transformation and that’s and in Spain there’s a bit of a resistance to working from home and telework. But this crisis has been has been the main driver of digital transformation in so many workplaces. And one of them is the public sector. So I learned that there are 14000 employees working for the city of Barcelona before this crisis. Only two hundred of them were equipped to work from home.
Mary Rowe [00:52:49] Wow.
Nicole Harper [00:52:51] Within two weeks, up to seven thousand of them were able to work from home. And this was because like an amazing fast learning curve, but amazing resilience and collaboration of the tech community, of the private sector or public sector working together and people just like willing to work. This is the new reality. So for me, the big takeaway is, is digital transformation is a reality and maybe it’s a learning curve for some people, but it’s a necessary one.
Mary Rowe [00:53:20] Nothing like a crisis.
Nicole Harper [00:53:22] Absolutely.
Mary Rowe [00:53:23] Nicole, what do you say about I mean, you again, a lot of people have Barcelona envy because while you’re mayor, but also the courageous things that you’ve done around housing, access to housing, but also that you’ve somehow been the leader in integrating tech in a way that’s seen as, I think having more of a social justice angle to it, that people aren’t that people haven’t resisted it. Whereas there’s more anxiety here that it’s about privacy and surveillance, capitalism or they can’t. Do you think the digital piece can be integrated in a way that increases inclusion and livability for everybody?
Nicole Harper [00:53:59] It has to. The answer is that it just has to. And I think that’s the attitude of the city. There’s a movement that we’re a part of in my organization for technological humanism, they call it. So putting people first, people centered technology and society centered design. And so, yeah, we’re questioning those things. And Barcelona has a great platform called DECIDIM, which is a citizen deliberation online platform. They’re also using it now for COVID to come up with co-created citizen initiatives. And they do question these things. And there’s an open debate online and offline that they try to be very inclusive about that. And then I can see it even as an expat, that it’s I think it’s working.
Mary Rowe [00:54:44] So society centered design, co-creation, people, people first. And these are great programs. We’ll put them into the chat so people can see them. Do you think that that so you feel that that’s something that you can emerge from this committed to really get to the next stage to champion? You think that’s the sticky thing?
Nicole Harper [00:55:04] I think so. And I think these also these contact tracing apps, people are questioning them and they kind of have the wheel also doing the foundation is trying to promote this digital literacy. So people actually can ask critical questions about technology and not just download an app on their phone because the government tells them to. They want to know what to do and what the privacy implications are there. And they can ask those questions. So we try to take with the Congress brings. So all of these tech giants to the city and bring that also to to people with a week of free events and lectures and workshops for free. So citizens can have that digital literacy.
Mary Rowe [00:55:45] The this notion of how we can blend public and private, that somehow they can coexist in a way that delivers benefits for everybody. People want to know clearly what it was you said Nicole. ‘Can you repeat, the phrases you had, you had someone saying, was it technology too ism? I don’t know what it was. What what exactly are the phrases you were saying? Go for it again.
Nicole Harper [00:56:04] Sorry, it was technological humanism.
Mary Rowe [00:56:08] There you go. Tech up. Karen Klein, technological humanism. OK, well, I think that’s great. Technological humanism. Lisa got it, too. Thanks, Lisa. Thank you. Oh, Danny, you talked about trust.
Danny Bridson [00:56:21] Ya
Mary Rowe [00:56:22] And and what Nicole is suggesting, I think, is that there needs to be some kind of. Elevated trust. That’s going to get us to prepare for. Do you see that as sticking?
Danny Bridson [00:56:35] It’s actually. It was actually exactly what I was just reflecting on when I was listening to Nicole. And I’m thinking about my work actually, because what some of the some of things you’ve mentioned today, Mary told me about urban functions and kind of how the pandemic can be changed for the better due to the pandemic. But when I when I think about the pandemic, it almost it’s it’s anti-urban in many regards. It’s kind of something that threatens in high density situations. It’s sort of when you have a lot of people mixing together. I think about my work as an urban designer or landscape architect. You’re you’re creating public spaces where you want to invite people to mix, to come together. It’s almost like the pandemic is working directly against what I’ve been trying to do my whole career, really, which is, you know, split this all up. Right. And I wonder, I would actually be curious to hear from from the rest of you if actually this anti-urban narrative is something that has emerged anywhere? In Stockholm it hasn’t. But in your cities, it’s it’s denser. And maybe maybe people are starting to get a bit wary of each other. And like you say, Mary, that trust starts to degrade because the other thing, it’s similar to what happened a little bit when the terrorist attacks were happening around Europe is a public space, became entering into public space, became an act of participating in some kind of relationship with a bunch of strangers, which it always is. But when you have this thing happening behind the scenes on the global scale, you’re thinking about it and you’re wondering, hey, did this person check themselves for symptoms or are they out here when they shouldn’t be? So you’re all the time negotiating in this process is kind of can I trust this person I’m with? And I wonder these things that have happened to us for the last decade and I kind of group the pandemic in with these other acts of terrorism, even though it’s quite different in many ways. But it may be eroding some of the public trust or it has the potential to. I wonder if it if any of you felt those effects.
Mary Rowe [00:58:40] It’s interesting that, you know, people predicted this, of course, after 9/11. And they know cities have survived pandemics for the for centuries. And people people will have a period of time where they are distrustful of a public good, could be water that gave them cholera or whatever it is. Right. And weather will adjust. Let’s see. So what do you think Charlotte? You’re a Briton, has struggled with all sorts of threats to public space. And terrorism is a good example, Danny, where actually public space right now might be one of the safest places to be. There’s ventilation. Outdoor public spaces. But what do you think? Charlotte, what’s the one thing that you’re going to wonder about and what’s going to inform your work going forward?
Charlotte Mitchell [00:59:23] I think so. It was just to like what Danny was talking about. I mean, whether this could breed or distrust in densely populated areas, I think we’ve talked about it a lot and I feel happy that I haven’t seen it. You know, I haven’t felt it. I really haven’t felt it. I’ve felt like people are actually, you know, more in touch with their communities and that that’s strengthened, if anything. You know, I think people are certainly out in the parks and they’re not staying away from those public spaces at all.
Mary Rowe [00:59:53] Picnics, you were saying it’s all about picnis.
Charlotte Mitchell [00:59:55] Ohh we love a picnic over here. Absolutely. Yeah. First thing on everyone’s To-Do list is get out there. They like it.
Mary Rowe [01:00:02] I wonder. I wonder if we’re gonna default to trust. I’ve got a couple of minutes left, so. Charlotte, you finish and then I’ll go to Marnie. Go ahead, Charlie.
Charlotte Mitchell [01:00:08] Yeah, I think I just on what would kind of I would take forward into my into my practice. I think one of the things is really comes back to what Nicole was saying about the human aspect. And because I work in infrastructure, it tends to be a very technical engineering, a serious discipline. And this is really shown like we’ve had to talk about infrastructure in the context of Coronavirus. And it is a very human problem and it’s brought those conversations close together. And I think for the better, it will have to, you know, think about the human angle much more when we plant infrastructure going forward. And I think that’s that’s a good thing. I’ll take note of this.
Mary Rowe [01:00:43] You know, it’s really reminded us that cities are free for people. Marnie last last word to you. What’s the piece that’s going to stick for you as you carry on your career?
Marnie McGregor [01:00:52] Well, definitely the work I’ve been doing is that kind of multi-level governance. And I think, you know, like all levels of government, all in Canada, we talk about the four corners of the table, federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations and I think but it’s also that kind of what Nicole and Charlotte and Danny even talking about, you know, society, business and the opportunity to to see how the inequities like there’s there’s no better time to be really addressing them. And I’m hopeful that people are addressing that and realizing, you know, it takes all hands on deck. It’s not just government. There’s a role for industry. There’s a role for community and non-profits and all the work that everyone’s doing. So, you know, not to be naive about it, but I definitely feel like that kind of collaboration is going to be more important than ever. And I just can’t see how big, bold solutions to these these societal changes and the looming climate crisis, which is not going away, is absolutely got to be the got to be the focus for for people moving forward.
Mary Rowe [01:01:55] It will be interesting to see if this is going to compel us together again to really come up with some collective solutions. Well, I feel really inspired listening to you for and hearing how you’re approaching your work as Canadians working in other places. Your country is proud of you. And we appreciate you taking a moment to just share what you’re seeing and what you think the real implications are of this work. And we wish you well and really want to thank Marnie, Charlotte Danny and Nicole for tuning in, tuning in and telling us about what’s going on in cities around the world. And we appreciate your feedback. And we’re going to take it to heart as we build trust and resilience and we come to terms with our transitions and tensions. And we look at what the I’m counting on you Nicole thet you’re right that we can create a what was a technological give it to us again, technological.
[01:02:44] Humanist, humanism.
[01:02:46] We’re going to become technological humanists as hurrah. Thanks, everybody. Really great to see you. Midday with the mayor of Barry and the mayor of St. John’s to talk about what’s really going on in smaller communities across the country. Tune in at noon Eastern to City Talk. Thanks very much. Again, gang. Really great to see you. Keep up the great work. Thanks. Thanks.
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12:02:04 From Canadian Urban Institute:Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments
12:03:08 From Canadian Urban Institute:You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:03:48 From Canadian Urban Institute:Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb
12:05:57 From Canadian Urban Institute:Danny Bridson – https://www.linkedin.com/in/danny-bridson-74735688/
Nicole Harper – https://twitter.com/nmharper
Marnie McGregor – https://twitter.com/marniemcg
Charlotte Mitchell – https://twitter.com/charlotteinldn
12:06:14 From Nadine Tischhauser:Hi from Riga, Latvia! Looking forward to this talk!
12:07:09 From Toby Greenbaum:Toby from Ottawa
12:07:10 From Felipe Canavera:Edmonton Alberta!
12:07:16 From Kate gunn:watching from Edmonton AB today!
12:07:18 From Yanling Lin:Yanling from Singapore
12:07:21 From Rachel Demmers:Rachel from Waterloo
12:07:25 From James McCallan:Normally Toronto, but in Montreal atm.
12:07:25 From Gillian Mason:From Scarborough Ontario
12:07:27 From Malithi Fernando:Hello! Malithi from Paris (previously, Calgary, AB)
12:07:27 From Naomi Roy to All panelists:Edmonton, Alberta
12:07:28 From Mary Kenny:Mary from Halifax
12:07:28 From Ivy Campbell to All panelists:Calgary, Aberta with City of Calgary
12:07:28 From Pierre Chauvin to All panelists:Fergus, Ontario
12:07:28 From Saif Alnuweiri to All panelists:Toronto
12:07:32 From Kara Naklicki:Watching from Toronto
12:07:32 From Michael Rushman:Vermont
12:07:33 From Farhan Dhanani:Farhan tuning in from Toronto!
12:07:36 From Adele Kalinauckas to All panelists:Adele from London, UK
12:07:40 From karen Ramsay Cline to All panelists:Victoria, BC Canada
12:07:51 From TJ Maguire:Hello from Nova Scotia! Great to see you Mary and Danny!
12:07:52 From Evgeny Voutchkov to All panelists:Edmonton
12:07:54 From Abby S:Toronto
12:08:05 From John Peterson:tuning in from Toronto
12:08:15 From Andrew Rozen:Andrew from Vancouver, BC
12:08:26 From Canadian Urban Institute:CUI is looking for volunteers to help us continue the great work of our COVID-19 initiatives. If you can help, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
12:08:43 From Susan Fletcher:Hello from Toronto (actually the border between Scarborough and Toronto)
12:09:39 From Canadian Urban Institute:
Help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3e1imuV
12:09:45 From Susan Fletcher:Marnie — as a Canadian Honk, does that mean you are a Canada Goose? lol
12:10:20 From Andrew Rozen:Andrew Rozen tuning in from Vancouver, BC
12:10:22 From Alan Kan to All panelists:Mississauga
12:10:35 From Ronny Yaron:Hello from St. Lawrence Neighbourhood in Toronto
12:10:46 From Alan Kan:Mississauga
12:11:22 From Sherri Torjman:Hello from Sherri Torjman in Toronto.
12:12:43 From Abby S:Always Cocktail hour somewhere in the world!
12:14:00 From karen Ramsay Cline:Karen from Victoria
12:17:02 From Alyssa Valente:Hello from Toronto
12:22:55 From Toby Greenbaum:How has the Pandemic affected the Brexit conversation?
12:25:24 From Abby S:Are people back on the Tube?
12:34:39 From Abby S:Does it depend upon the neighbourhood?
12:41:05 From Lisa Cavicchia, CUI Staff:How is this pandemic hitting vulnerable people? Interested in Stockholm & Athens for this
12:41:43 From Marit Mitchell:A question for Charlotte: as travel and transport usage habits change, do you foresee a shift in how big infrastructure projects are approached and planned?
12:42:27 From karen Ramsay Cline:Panelists: How are cities responding to and supporting the homeless population if shelters are closed due to distancing?
12:42:42 From Sherri Torjman:Have any of the national governments provided special or additional financial assistance to cities to help with pandemic-related costs?
12:43:56 From Charles Crenna:What are local authorities doing to do the business case for permanence of initiatives?
12:44:42 From Susan Fletcher:Jennifer Keesmat (in a ULI webinar) described the “Now, After-Now and New Normal” with the After-Now as before a vaccine. Helps as a way to think of the Now and After-Now as a pilot.
12:44:42 From Michael Roschlau to All panelists:Correction – transit has not been free in Toronto. Both TTC and GO Transit have continued collecting fares. Only some of the outer suburban systems have suspended fare collection.
12:44:50 From Sue Campbell:Victoria BC will charge for buses again June 1st. Losing $6m/month without fares.
12:48:11 From salman faruqi:Lockdown
12:49:44 From Toby Greenbaum:Is there a rural urban conflict in Sweden?
12:50:04 From Canadian Urban Institute:
Help CUI improve its CityTalk programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/3e1imuV
12:50:57 From Charles Crenna:Do cities have good neighbourhood level data on COVID-19 cases?
12:51:10 From Canadian Urban Institute:CUI is looking for volunteers to help us continue the great work of our COVID-19 initiatives. If you can help, please contact us at email@example.com
12:54:18 From Charles Crenna:A key message is the need for local public-private cooperation…
12:54:54 From Canadian Urban Institute:You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk
12:56:16 From karen Ramsay Cline:Can you write out the phrase Nicole mentioned, was it “technology too’ism”?
12:56:25 From Canadian Urban Institute:Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb
12:56:35 From Lisa Cavicchia, CUI Staff:technological humanism
12:56:50 From karen Ramsay Cline:Thank you!
12:57:19 From Toby Greenbaum:and what about the citizen deliberation platform – what is that called?
12:58:00 From Nicole Harper:https://www.decidim.barcelona/
12:58:42 From Charles Crenna:We need to be able to assess whether it’s true that there are more cases in more densely populated situations, apart from the NY subway, maybe…
13:00:32 From Susan Fletcher:Read this today, made me think about who I am thinking about. https://www.curbed.com/2020/5/20/21263319/coronavirus-future-city-urban-covid-19
13:00:39 From Toby Greenbaum:Jennifer Keesmaat’s talk at ULI Toronto on Tuesday shared a lot of great data about how density is not the issue. Rather it is about shared surfaces and crowding (different then density). Check it out.
13:00:44 From karen Ramsay Cline to All panelists:Marnie can you tell people what HONK stands for?
13:02:41 From Marnie McGregor:Not a policy wonk and not a political hack- don’t know where the H comes from!
13:02:59 From karen Ramsay Cline to All panelists:;)
13:03:23 From Kathryn Mills:Thank you very much!
13:03:31 From Farhan Dhanani:Thank you all for the session, it has been a pleasure
13:03:36 From karen Ramsay Cline:Thanks all
13:04:06 From Danny Bridson:Thanks everybody!
13:04:19 From Nicole Harper:Thanks everyone for joining 🙂