Mary Rowe [00:00:24] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute. Welcome to City Talk on the day after two days after this, the summer solstice. So here we are on June. What is it? Nineteen twenty. Twenty, twenty two. Really great. Great to house. My colleagues here who are regional leads for the Canadian Urban institute across the country. Part of what we’ve been trying to do at the CUI over the last several months before COVID, as we were trying to figure out how can we be the connective tissue between city builders working across the country and people in your school, government activists, practitioners, urban professionals, community leaders and all kinds of institutional folks that contribute to making city life work. And so we’ve been so, so fortunate to have the partnership of these folks that are joining us here coming from all parts of the country to try to stitch together a regional conversation in their own areas. That’s interdisciplinarity and cross sectoral and them together, helping us as a collective across the across Canada. Understand that urban Canada has a lot in common and a lot of things that we know that we do together and that we were challenges that we’re addressing together so cold. It was a good excuse for us to be able to kind of wrap that up. And we’ve been very appreciative of the time that volunteers and partner organizations, some of which are represented around the set screen today, have contributed to this. And we hope what we hope, we hope will continue to contribute, because I think we’ve built something really interesting among us. And we saw it on Friday, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people came on the sessions that went across the country. Kate Graham, who’s here, you can see out there for research as she put together with, again, partners across the country, students, interns, different collaborators. The Signpost report that she this picture, the insects. And then we had a chance to really listen. I feel like I keep hoping that not only are we in the connective tissue business and I hope we’re also in the urban empathy business, I think it’s about how can we hear one another, appreciate what what each other’s struggles are and challenges are. And then are there ways for us to create a kind of collective solution making platform? So these broadcasts, as you know, originate from Toronto, which is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, Annishnabec, and the Chippewa and Haudenasaunee and the Wendat peoples. And it’s home to many diverse First Nations and Métis across Turtle Island trial was also covered by Treaty 13, which are signed to the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Williams trees, which were signed with multiple Annishnabec, nations. And we have among us here folks that have other attritional territories that they may acknowledge. The other thing that we obviously over the last several weeks been aware of has been made increasingly aware of is the extent to which urbanism has been an exclusionary and urban planning and design continue to exclude and have historical patterns of exclusion around people of color, people from Indigenous ancestry and other kinds of ways in which we other each other. And again, are we going to stitch together a new narrative together? Also, if you if you want to continue to be part of these conversations, as you know, please engage in the chat function. We have posted videos here. All the videos from Friday are all posted, all six of them. We also post to five or six key points that we distill from the conversations and we also post the chat function. So if you’d like to contribute to the chat, please do just note that whatever you put in the chat not only stays in the chat, but it gets posted. So it’s a good way for us to engage and we hope to that. You’ll have a conversation on social media use. It constricts city talk. So welcome, everybody. Really glad to have you. You were great on Friday. We all loved it. Some of us stuck out. We. We want to know whether we have some super city talkers. So if anybody on the chat now wants to sign in and just tell us, was there anybody who actually attended all six. Other than me and Kate Graham and the producers? If there is anybody, just put your name in there and tell us or tell us how many you were able to dial into. And remembering that they’re online now and you can watch them at your leisure in the middle of the night, sleepless or first thing in the morning. And part of why we created these things was there good archives? There were really I think when we’re all old and gray or I’m older and grayer, I’m gonna to look back and we’re gonna learn a lot. We’re gonna see what it was like in one, two, six, ten, fifteen. And what was it like in week fifteen? So. So these are useful things to continue to consider. But,.
Mary Rowe [00:04:50] Kate, I’m going to go to you first and ask you to just take us through some of your thoughts around when you were pulled that signposts report together and the feedback you’ve had and give us some thoughts on that. And then we’ll go to each of the regional leads to give us a sense of, oh, so we’ve got to three and a half. Always good when somebody gets to three. That’s pretty good. Thanks. The. You got a Silver Star now of gold. Kate, why don’t you take us through your initial thinking and then we’re gonna go. Each of us. And then we’re gonna have a kind of conversation about where do we go for the next 100. OK, Kate.
Kate Graham [00:05:20] Sure. So hi, everybody. Good morning or afternoon, depending on where you are. My name is Kate and I’m from the CUI team and would definitely echo Mary’s comments. I thought Friday was just a phenomenal opportunity to go across the country directly as a result of the regional leads we have here, as well as aerial who led the Ontario panel. But we also released a report on Friday. And I’m going to share just a couple of slides, too, to set some context. The report aim to take a look at where we’re at 100 days into it. And then the conversations across the country tried to take a regional look at this to see how different this is, look, depending on where you are. So hopefully my technology skills will. Can you see that? OK. Very good. All right. So the report that we released on Friday was called COVID Signpost at the 100 day mark. And you can find it online at COVID100.ca. We have committed to doing these reports every hundred days until whatever point it’s not relevant anymore. And of course, we all hope that that’s very soon. Personally, I’m not holding my breath, but it gives us an opportunity at a 100 day mark, 200 day mark, 300 hundred day mark and so on, just to stop and take a look at what is happening around us. So why is it called a signpost? 100 days in, there is a lot that we don’t know yet about COVID. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last. We cannot predict the total loss of life. We do not know the total economic impact. We don’t know when a vaccine may emerge, if at all, on the horizon. So there’s a lot that we don’t know. But there are things that we do know, and that’s what this report was all about. It’s to say there are some signs around us that we should be paying attention to that act as guidance when there is an unclear situation around us. And so the report looked at five dimensions of urban life,: how we live, how we move, how we work, how we care and how we thrive. To simply say, you know, there’s a lot that we don’t know. But what do we know about how COVID it is impacting our cities? So I’m going to share just a couple of the main messages from the report with you this morning. The first one is how two things. The first would be how very urban this pandemic has been so far. So if we were to take a look at just the 20 largest cities in the country, it reflects about 42 percent of Canada’s population. And yet most people I know, I was surprised to learn that seventy five percent of our deaths related to COVID so far have been in just those 20 cities. So we see a highly disproportionate impact on cities across the country. We also see, though, a very different experience, depending on what city we’re talking about. So, for example, take a look at the count of the case, count per hundred thousand in Montreal, for example, compared to Edmonton. And you’ll quickly see that the Montreal number is more than twenty five times that of Edmonton. So the main message here is that COVID is not impacted cities evenly. You probably haven’t seen a chart that looks like this. And the reason for that is that most of the reporting on our cases and our deaths has been at a provincial level in Canada. And this is one of the things that the argument or this one, the arguments that the report tries to make and I think very strongly, is that we need to see more city level reporting. And there are lots of examples where the difference from one city to the next is actually greater, even in the same province than between provinces. And so we need a much better sense of how each city is being impacted to be able to make good decisions when it comes to things like regional reopening, for example, or decisions about services. We’ve got to understand how different parts of Canada, different communities are being affected to make the best decisions we can. The other big gap in our data and our collective knowledge is how it has disproportionately affected different groups of Canadians. And there’s been lots of talk about this recently and frankly, for decades in the past that as a country we need much better racial and ethnic reporting to understand how COVID is impacting each of us. So here are just two examples. And these are based on survey data of about depending on the measure, up to fifty five thousand Canadians provided very generously and in kind by Advanis, a research company based out of Edmonton. And you’ll see this if you dive into the report, you will see chart after chart after chart in state after state after staff that essentially convey the same point, which is that the impact of COVID has not been even. There are communities that are experiencing, as is communicated here, a much higher impact on their quality of life, having a greater impact on their life. Or here’s a second chart that again makes the same point. When we ask people about their ability to access health care during this pandemic, you see that it’s very uneve. That certain communities are having a much tougher time than others. This same story comes through and we ask about access to food. It comes through when we ask information about job losses, about financial impact. So without going through, I can I can save you a bit of time on the report. Even if you flip through it, you will see this is one of the themes that comes through over and over again is that the impact has been highly uneven.
Mary Rowe [00:10:53] Can you pop back us to the second slide that had the cities go to the one that has all the cities because people couldn’t see it? Stops at Quebec City. Is there anything below that?
Kate Graham [00:11:04] There is in the report. This is a screenshot where I.
Mary Rowe [00:11:07] OK. All right. So all you fastidious watch watching the sense that I can only see the top 10 cities. That’s why. Because Kate made a slide with only the top 10 cities. It’s a good plug. Go read the report. You’ll see.
Kate Graham [00:11:19] Read the report! I tried to put them all in, but it got very, very small to the point of being essentially. So take a look at the report and you can see them all listed there. So main messages from the report. There is a lot that we don’t know. But there are things that we do know in signs that we, as people who care about cities in Canada, need to be paying closer attention to. We know already, just one hundred days in, that our experiences with COVID have depended largely on who we are and where we live. And yet we do not have good data to understand either of those things. Right now, on every single day, there is a national report on cases and deaths and the fact that it doesn’t include a city level breakdown or doesn’t include ethnic level data. It creates an institutional blind spot. It prevents us from being able to make decisions that directly address the people who need help, who need support the most. So we need better data. We need to start reporting and collecting more data. And I think that it it’s pretty natural extension to say that that would help with decision making. The other important theme that comes through the report through all five of those sections is that we’ve seen some of the frailties of Canadian urbanism. This is something that urbanists we love to talk about. We’ve been talking about for decades that we live in a country where local leaders have never been empowered to make decisions about local issues, the way that we see Premiere’s empowered, for example. And so you see decisions about regional reopenings, for example, are reopenings, for example, happening largely at the provincial level, sometimes with some very large regions defined. And we see city leaders surprised by things that have a big impact on how they deliver services in those cities. So the report calls for a number of things, governments to come together around, better decision making, more empowerment and working with local leaders, and also some collaboration between levels of government to address the fiscal crisis, which is a whole other topic. But we know that cities in Canada are facing a lot of financial burden when it comes to continuing to deliver services. And so we need to see governments working together. So if you’re interested in more context on any of those things, the report has a lot to say on all of these topics and others. But the main message that I would leave you with is that our experience with COVID so far reveals a lot of the existing inequalities in our country and how big and diverse our country really is. Which is why I think conversations like The Spotlight on Friday by the wonderful moderators on this call are so important is trying to understand COVID at a Canada wide scale, it becomes almost meaningless because the experience is so different in each place. So doing a better job of listening to people who know the unique reality of their community, of their city, of their region. That’s one of the things we’ve got to continue doing as a group of people who care about this over the hundred days ahead. So I’ll wrap it up there, if that’s okay, Mary.
Mary Rowe [00:14:16] Thanks, Kate. You know, it’s interesting. It strikes me that so again, we’re going to plug the record. Go read the report, folks. It’s a it’s a good thing you can pick up and put down again. It takes a while, but I think it’s really useful to have that as a measure. You know, Kate, it’s interesting. The hundred days, you showed that slide of the impact of COVID in the slide showing these cases of COVID and the deaths due to COVID. There are also other impacts of COVID that are related to the shutdown and the different measures we’ve taken. Right. So if we go to Allison first, Allison’s panel was, I’m going counterintuitive, too, like that. We’re going west first. Allison’s panel was all about the other implications of the shutdown and how that has actually led to deaths and an increased vulnerability. So a different slide would be even though the incidence of deaths and cases in Quebec is much higher per capita, if there were other measures by per capita of loss of jobs, income. All those kind of things, it’s going to look quite differently. So I guess over the next hundred days, we’re going to see we need. I think we need guidance from everyone on this call and everybody participating with us about what is it we need to be looking for the next 100 day days. So I’m going to go to you first. Just for those people who did not have the benefit of tuning into the Western session. Can you just the Pacific session. Can you give us a flavor of what you talked about? The unmuted yourself. There you go.
Allison Ashcroft [00:15:56] We look to focus our conversation on how COVID was impacting the existing dual urgencies of homelessness and overdose deaths in British Columbia. And we spoke with folks from Victoria and Vancouver. So from Victoria, we had we had myself who lives in Victoria. And then another who works with the Coalition to End Homelessness has been quite instrumental in getting people off the streets and into temporary outdoor shelters and then transitioning into self isolation indoors. So it’s been a gigantic feat of making more than a thousand people in Vancouver and Victoria alone stuck with two folks on the downtown side of Vancouver, which, as you know, has some very entrenched and complex issues down there for a long time. And so both were both work in overdose prevention, one for the city of Vancouver, a very unique role that I hadn’t heard of before, where they actually how someone, a person of living experience with drug use, working with the city to advise and help their work on the downtown east side, given that broadband connections and trust with government is very low.
Mary Rowe [00:17:16] And I don’t know whether I don’t know whether people outside B.C. appreciate this, that, in fact, there are more deaths to opioid overdose than there are to COVID in your region. Right.
Allison Ashcroft [00:17:26] Right. So that’s the reason I chose this particular topic, is because if you look purely at the numbers on the report. And, of course, you know, the love and admiration we all have for Dr. Bonnie Henry set down such an amazing job out here. And B.C. is our B.C. public health officer. You’d see that Victoria, or sorry, British Columbia looks to have done quite well, you know, by it, by all standards. But it’s true. We’ve had one hundred and sixty nine deaths from COVID since the beginning. And in the month of May alone, we had one hundred and seventy. We’ve had more than 400 decimal from overdose since COVID started because of a restriction on the supply of drugs. Some contaminants like that are being produced more regionally now and then. A difficult thing. Services and being cut off from communications services and colleagues.
Mary Rowe [00:18:19] Mean, one of the things that’s going to be interesting is how are we? There may be all sorts of I guess they’re not necessarily there unintended consequences of the measures that were taken to address COVID or contain coded that may have, in fact, in your case, it has caused other deaths. So there are and and I’m wondering, Kate, are you thinking about this, about how we’re going to actually collect the data? I saw a thing on Facebook on the weekend of a whole bunch of death indicators that are not COVID directly to areas of everyday people seeing this, but has do with delayed surgeries and domestic violence and various things that are contributing to that. So how are we going? Are you thinking at all about how we measure this over the next hundred days? It’s not just about COVID, but everything else.
Kate Graham [00:19:04] This was one of the challenges that will say of even scoping out this report is how to express the impact of COVID. So last week we passed a hundred thousand cases in Canada, which leaves more than 37 million Canadians who have not don’t have not contracted COVID, at least not to this point. And yet almost every single person has experienced a pretty dramatic change in their life. People who are there are vulnerabilities. They have been intensified in all kinds of ways. So even characterizing what has been the impact of COVID in cities on people over a hundred days is it is a task in and of itself. So when I found the B.C. discussion to be really helpful in shaping our thinking on that, I’m not sure there’s one answer. I think we need to look at each community within each region or maybe even within each city to understand what are those vulnerabilities and how is covered changed the risk levels, especially in communities that are already very vulnerable.
Mary Rowe [00:20:01] And this is just high and this is hyper. Sorry, go ahead.
Allison Ashcroft [00:20:05] That’s exactly right. I mean, I think, you know, we always have to criticize ourselves, right, when we’re looking at how we’re doing things. And and, you know, purely you know, I work with local governments. So when local governments do their engagement, they say, oh, everybody’s invited. Well, but that doesn’t mean everybody’s included. Right. So just because we have a website that’s open with city share and whatnot doesn’t mean that everybody is participating or are aware of it or it has or is even online. Right. And similarly, you know, who we talked to is who we know. And so we miss a lot. And so you have to get. You can only get that kind of level of offline when you get local and when you get uncomfortable. Right. You have to go in and talk to, you know, I don’t work in homelessness. And and and and overdose deaths like drug addiction. That’s not my job. I work on climate change. But I knew that that was the story. And so we got four frontline workers, you know, and. And it had a challenging conversation for me on those topics. Right. That’s not my that’s not my my my strength. But it was a really important topic to have. And it was only if we’d talk to those four people that were working on, you know, literally in the front on the front line that we would even be able to understand the complexity of those issues and that’s why, I mean, I commend the city of Vancouver for recognizing that and recognizing they needed to put on payroll someone who has that connection and is deeply involved in that in that community.
Kate Graham [00:21:31] I mean, it really it is really an illustration of everything is local. It’s all like the local micro. Can you talk to us a little bit about what you picked up in your session and what you’re observing in the prairies and inevitable?
Michael Redhead Champagne [00:21:42] Well, there was an interesting panel, I think, for us, because as we were having the conversation. I mean, if you look actually nationally at the numbers in the prairies and in the north, the numbers are extremely low. And so the most important question, I think that I was asking my panelists and we had a very robust discussion was that there are a number of factors we need to look at in pandemics and a crisis, crises like this and a lot of excuses that used to be there have fallen away and governments. Municipally, provincially and even federally have all revealed their hand, so to speak, have demonstrated what their capacity is to support vulnerable folks, to dispense resources and a fast way to make sure that the processes and intake, communications and whatnot are flexible and consistent. So all the excuses from before are gone now. And so it was great to hear from Rebecca Alty, who is the mayor of Yellowknife, Marcus Chambers here in Winnipeg City Council, chair of the peace board, Chris for Classico, also for want to pay, doing your civics work, and Pamela Gordon McCleod, the director of emergency management from City of Saskatoon. So, like the group together, had a really awesome conversation about how do we actually take care of vulnerable people? And it wasn’t a particularly COVID focused, actually, which I loved about it. And the main thing we talked about was what are the lessons of what are you doing really well that the rest of Canada should be learning about. And so there were conversations about building system literacy, supporting local businesses, social procurement, improving food security. So all of these things, I think, are examples that at a municipal level we can do a better job of to take care of our vulnerable relatives in the community. But that’s the silver lining, I think, of COVID-19, and it was great to hear their perspectives from across the prairies and in the north about how they I think they’re leading by example. And the rest of Canada can probably learn a thing or two from our examples. I think so. Good job. Prairies in the north. Yeah.
Mary Rowe [00:23:52] It’s a it’s a I know what you’re saying about silver lining. It’s hard to talk about a silver lining and people are still dying. I hear you on that. But there is a question of why it took this kind of crisis to get us to have these kinds of conversations, I guess. And how and but we’re gonna we’re gonna use it to full advantage to educate each other about what’s really going on, which is important. And Robert, can you talk to us a bit about what came out of the Alberta session and what your impressions were from Calgary and you have to unmute yourself too.
Robert Plitt [00:24:22] Yeah. Thank you, Mary. Well, I’m sorry that didn’t get to listen to everyone’s sessions because they sound amazing. So we kind of focused on the role of civic institutions and how our civic institutions have been responding or not responding to to the public health crisis in particular. And I think what was apparent was, you know, maybe to sort of echo Michael’s point was the kind of actual overwhelming capacity of our civic institutions to respond rapidly to this to this crisis. And that in a number of ways, the University of Calgary, you know, from actually fabricating personal protective equipment to undertaking a massive study of the data that was coming out around the public health and playing a role in informing the city in terms of what was actually happening on the ground, like so, so much sort of mobilizing their research capacity, which was kind of really interesting. And the notion that that changing sort of role of academic institutions to play a more direct role in informing and data informed decision making for the city. We heard from Nneka Otogbolu from the Calgary, from the Edmonton Community Foundation, speaking to the mobilization of their resources across a range of challenges that their communities were experiencing and how they’re seeing themselves as an antisense Mary, a not dissimilar, just the CUI kind of idea of sort of being connective tissue. How the community foundations can play a significant role in the connective tissue, not just in local conditions, but across the country. One hundred and ninety one community foundations. You know, we had Jason Ribeiro from Calgary Economic Development, and really reflecting on the kind of the relationship between some of the some of the comments that Mayor Nenshi had had in his talk CUI talk in the week before around kind of the social contract and the promise to all Canadians and all Calgarians in his case to live a life of promise and fulfillment and and how, you know, even before COVID it, how the sort of the economic downturns in in Alberta, which are now been incredibly exacerbated. You know, we’re really leading to a kind of reevaluation of how we how we build an economy out here with it and with a much deeper kind of commitment to absorb.
Mary Rowe [00:27:24] Diverse and more diversified views.
Robert Plitt [00:27:29] And, of course, Aaron Krush from the mayor’s office was kind of able to give us a sense of the complexity of how and the capacity of the municipal government to respond. In fact, being the first the first government in Canada to actually declare the state of emergency. Four days after COVID, the World Health Organization announced today declared a pandemic and sort of their their capacity to rapidly kind of mobilize and their commitment to kind of I forget the exact words that you used, but it was, you know, to the to the effect of to really minimize harm to those most vulnerable in the community.
Mary Rowe [00:28:14] It is interesting, you know, the harm reduction piece, both Alison and you and Michael actually are touching on this, that the government’s role is to is to do no harm, first do no harm, and then and then provide supports. And the dilemma that we’ve got here, which is just fine report, is that municipal governments don’t have the resources often to do it. They don’t have the authority. They don’t have the they’re not actually at the some of the key decision making tables. And we’ve seen it during COVID that decisions have been taken and suddenly they’re stuck with having to quickly figure it out. Catherine, do you want to talk at all about what you learned in the session, often on set? I’m afraid you have to give us the summary in English, but we know that you did session in French and I did listen, lots of others did. So sorry that you’re having to report to us in English. Can you tell us a little bit about what you covered?
Catherine Craig-St-Louis [00:29:02] Yeah. Thank you, Mary. Well, it was almost entirely in French. I had one of the panelists who was talking in English. I had with me Dimitri Espérance on Food Insecurity. I had Josée Chiasson. So on the Montreal’s recovery plan, I had Nakuset, who is a director of a women’s shelter in Montreal and Violaine Ouellette well, that’s from Technical Resources Group. So more on the social housing front. So obviously the discussion was based in Montreal, but I liked how you phrased it at the beginning. Mary, speaking of urban empathy, maybe I think that could really well describe the themes that we discussed on the on the on the panel about Montreal. All there was this question of of that human scale ness now. So the city level, the group level, the community level, how the neighborhoods were sort of showing more solidarity than they had in in a very long time, how the community groups were kind of either organizing because the existing ones might not have been or were not able to take on all of the new needs or the the exacerbated needs that came with that with COVID. And so all those other implications we had Dimitri talking about how the increase is. I think it’s like a like a 50 percent increase on people asking for food at the food banks or reference to him or to his groups to have access to food baskets. So those other implications on how it’s kind of a nod add up to the middle class that could function with a salary, with jobs, with. But then how all of them of the other covered intricate impacts kind of they have weakened a few other parts of the system. So the whole system has to be rethought because those impacts of losing jobs had impacts on other groups and on other people or communities being able to help each other. So maybe that that that part also about mutual learning. And I think I think it’s it comes down to those that awareness that’s been brought up front about how, say, Violaine, was speaking of how that housing question was put at the forefront and now they have not new partners, but partners who maybe didn’t always just jump in and say, yes, we need new housing. This is a social determinants of health. Now they’re joining in. They’re helping out. So it’s brought to the forefront some of these these. Well, these very pressing issues. Well, yeah, so. So speaking of of that question of empathy, I think it was really strong on on Friday for us. How sometimes also maybe you spoke of nimble of nimbleness, just as a few words before, and how sometimes governments and bigger institutions weren’t able to react very quickly but say the women’s shelter had to do it, had to rethink. Very quick how their tents would be set up, how they would keep that communication going with the people they help on the ground outside with with contact with with signs. Because these people don’t always have access to radio, to Internet and house. The city can then sort of be inspired by that and help and replicate, not always to the same measure, but they were like, oh, what works? What you do, we might be able to reproduce this. So the nimbleness of some of the groups that work on the ground and we’re able to inspire as well, bigger or heavier institutions that sometimes move more slowly, but then could kind of take on these nice inspirations.
Mary Rowe [00:32:47] I like calling these institutions heavier institutions. Catherine, that’s a perfect term. You know, when you think of we look back on this time and we say, boy, you know, municipal governments have become the big improvisors and not just municipal governments, but communities and people on the ground. That’s why we put up citysharecanada.ca because we knew that people would be inventing something new. Fiddling with something else, they’d be putting together some stuff. So one of the questions I’ve got of course is how much of that can stick and can we move ourselves as governments into a place of enabling that kind of innovative thinking so that it’s not always done the same way. Let’s nothing like an emergency that forced us to sign. I’m sure there are some things we’re going to pull and say we did that. Well, it’s not going to be there. We did lots of things not we’re doing things not so well, but there’s areas that we’ve done things quite well. Kourosh talked to us about the session you did in Atlantic Canada. You and everybody, of course, has backdrop envy Kourosh. There’s I think there’s not there’s not been a Zoom backdrop on all the hundreds of Zoom’s we’ve all been doing not just city ducks. That’s as appealing as your backdrop. And before we started you actually moved your camera to show people what that is.
Kourosh Rad [00:33:59] Yeah, it’s it’s actually real, I should say. It’s a hand made tile from Iran. So to put that plug in there. Yeah. So about Friday, it was a very good discussion be had with three panelists, the first one being Laura Wilkinson, who is a young female urban planner with the city of Halifax, a term she is a part of. It’s you could see three people that have done what we thought would be taking years and months, at least months, if not years. And that is the urban response to it over the past several weeks. So we talked about her challenges and her career aspirations into making the changes that they’ve made over the past eight weeks, really. And then we also talked to the Andy Fillmore, who is the only urban planner was ever been elected to the parliament, i dont know if anyone else’s ran. But he’s the only one who’s been ever elected. He talked about that a little bit about his own writing as an urban planner and the changes he’s seen across the country and a little bit talked about the plan that’s supposed to issue this Friday from the minister of infrastructure. There is something big apparently coming down. So we are all very interested to see what the federal response in urban mobility is going to be from the minister of infrastructure. But then the conversation we brought in, Cynthia, during town, who is on the board of Africville Museum. I hope everyone knows Africville and the history of Africavill that happened six years ago in Halifax. African Novascotians were put in the back of a garbage chart, moved to the suburban areas because they wanted to put them in civilized places, took away their waterfront properties. I was very, very intrigued to talk about that particular set of events in light of the Black Lives Matter movement that has happened over the past hundred days here in Halifax or around the world that really hit home for me. That discussion we had with Cynthia, we talked about how it’s nice and everything that whatever you’re talking about, you know, empowering the communities and, you know, inclusion. I said I’m I’m personally guilty as using inclusion without really meaning yet. And we talked about how it’s important to not just include but empower, not get involved in planning the cities. I think more than any other time has come apparent that the racial divides in our communities and the lack of inclusion, true inclusion, not just a checkbox that we sometimes check off. The real inclusion and real empowerment is going to have a long lasting effect. And the lack of it is also going to be having 60 years later. We’re still talking about Africville in Novascotia. We haven’t addressed that yet. So I really think the Black Lives Matter movement and all the stories that are coming up now. I’ve been reading a lot personally about what has happened in the states and the slavery and there that is still alive and well in our communities. And I’m really concerned that we are not out to see the way we should be. So that was very important for me to talk to Cynthia about it. Get her to put perspective on it. She talked about the importance of empathy, showing up and empowering communities to be part of the conversation. There is a lot to unpack there. And I and I really hope that the question of inclusion and diversity. They see us as as responsible for.
Mary Rowe [00:37:29] Yeah, well, and again, interesting how how hyper local the impacts are. And it’s trying with your own history and what the history of the places, as you suggest. So, Kate, based on your analysis, based on the report that you’ve done and all the different researchers you’re working across the country and what you’ve heard from these folks and what we’ve learned, those sessions and any 30 city talks that we had beforehand, do you have a sense of what you think the next hundred days needs to be focused on?
Kate Graham [00:37:59] Yes, I am listening to the conversations on Friday and all of the work leading up to it, including the importance that one, I am feeling more and more worried that we are seeing some deeply concerning signs around us. You know, we see inequality deepening and we see cities in the worst fiscal position they’ve been in, in. I couldn’t even pinpoint a date how far we’d have to go back when we see big worries being raised about stepping backwards or slowing down and other goals, climate change, housing, economic inequality, any number of other things that we need cities to be working on when we don’t really know the magnitude of the economic impact, when we we know that many Canadians are experiencing really significant challenges with their mental health as a result of the dramatic change in their lives. But we don’t know what that will mean in terms of our orientations towards public space, towards each other. We have a a really significant challenge on our hands. And I think part of what we need to be thinking about in the next hundred days is just a personal opinion, is how we define where we’re going, because recovery has to be more than just, you know, getting to zero cases and having our unemployment level reach a pre-COVID level. It has to be about being better positioned to address the big things that we need cities to be to be able to solve. And I’m feeling more worried about that. And each of the conversations last week pointed to other dimensions of this that have been affected in really problematic ways. But I’m not sure that we have a consensus yet on what recovery even means. And, you know, it may be silly to think about that Canada wide scale. It may be that each community needs to define what recovery looks like and it’s got to be more than case counts. But I think we’ve we’re seeing a lot of really concerning steps backwards right now that require us coming together.
Michael Redhead Champagne [00:39:56] Something that I think is really important to be said. And I think it’s been said constantly online and in different spaces. But we need to say here is a lot of people are saying, I’m excited to get back to normal. And for folks that are in Indigenous or are black or racialized in this country, back to normal means getting back to many institutions that our system are still suffering from systemic racism are still disproportionately separating families. And so I think it’s really important for us to think about how we don’t need to return to normal. We need to get we actually need to use this opportunity to get better. And I think that’s the language that I’m trying to share with people like I don’t want back to normal. I don’t want business as usual. I don’t want status quo. And all these excuses that people used to give Indigenous children, families living in poverty, folks in the inner city, in our cities have been robbed, rotted away thanks to COVID-19 and on a moving forward basis. The cat is out of the bag. We know what cities are capable of now. So what you consider to be an emergency or what you consider to be a crisis maybe looks different. But for me, the crisis’s systems of family separation that take Indigenous children from their families and systems of poverty that make Indigenous people disproportionately represented on the homelessness front. So looking at our justice system, thinking about who is disproportionately affected there. And I also need to mention that in Winnipeg in April, we have three indigenous people killed by the Winnipeg police. And so as we’re having conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement, around defunding the police, we have to look at how we keep our communities safe, how we work with communities that are disproportionately affected and ensure that those communities have a seat at the table so that they can help design, deliver and evaluate any programing that affects them up to and including police. So I have to say that, Kate, thank you for what you are saying.
Kourosh Rad [00:42:05] I think I think I’m concerned even more than I was before COVID that, COVID was used as a cover to recover some damage that some politicians and some cities had to repair themselves as coming off saying under progressive. Over the past hundred days, we’ve seen the urban mobility response all around. Canada, including in Halifax. But I have a feeling that that was just a bit of a cover to show a bit of a progressive face. And it doesn’t go deep enough. A hundred days ago, 90 days ago, 80 days ago, I was excited to see the energy that’s finally coming together to bring about a real change. I’m from Iran. I’ve seen powers of revolution. I’ve seen powers of wars. I’ve seen. I’ve seen power of immigration. I’ve seen all of these things. I was really excited to see that I wasn’t excited about COVID. I was excited about the uniting voices of talking about the progressive causes that we had never gone far enough. And finally, I thought, you know what? Maybe the first step is urban mobility response that we’re seeing around Canada then BLM happened. I was like, maybe this is the catalyst to have the race conversation that we need to have and the empowerment discussion that we need to have. Well, I’m getting more and more frustrated and angry about is the opposite of that, that cities and provinces now our provinces are leaders are being held as heroes because they locked us down. They locked us down to to show their power. Now we are going more and more closer to an end. I’m sorry, I’m getting a little angry here because I am angry. The leaders use the lockdowns as a way to show their power and to show that they can do things and we are holding them as heroes, but they haven’t done enough. All they’ve done is shut us down and having a news brief every single day to tell us the numbers. That’s not enough. If you’re about to see if you’re really about change, as Michael said, we’ve seen the power that we have. We’ve seen what we can do with these. Look the people that have been kicked out of Africville were moved to north end. For years, they’ve been asking for slow streets under a street because their streets have become a thoroughfare for people trying to escape traffic. For 10 years at least, they’ve been asking for Slowes streets on their streets. Didn’t happen. When did that happen? When the. I’m sorry, I have to come on and say this. When the white folks came out and asked for slow streets, then all of a sudden 90 days is all it took for the slow streets to start happening. Not only that. And I’m starting to see the language that the cities are using. There was a tweet that was issued a couple days ago saying due to a request, this is city of Halifax saying “due to the request from businesses we are removing the bike lanes that we put in place and we continue to change our response based on the feedback we received”. What I’m hearing is going back to normal. That was broken to start with, and I’m really frustrated with that.
Robert Plitt [00:45:03] Maybe.
Mary Rowe [00:45:07] So, Robert, go talk about. Other it.
Robert Plitt [00:45:14] Alison, go ahead. No, I don’t really go. OK, I’ll just I’ll just kind of be brief, but, you know, maybe with the analogy of signposts, Kate. I’m just wondering.You know, when you come to a fork in the road or you come to a signpost, sometimes there are seven different paths you can take. And I think we’re in that kind of a dynamic right now where there’s so much uncertainty, you know? I mean, I would say that in general, people are doing their best, right? We’re all we’re all trying to kind of manage a very complex situation. We have you know, this has exacerbated our underlying systemic failures. And there and and there will be a tendency to go back to normal, normal the way it was. I mean, that’s how resilient systems were. And that’s why our systems have been so able to maintain this inequalities. But I think we’re at a point now in terms of for the next hundred days is to potentially really try and maintain this conversation about what are the multiple directions that this could possibly go in. And with that, we need good data. We need good observation to begin to really tease out and and watch what is happening. Because I don’t think we can control this in a way that we can just say we’re, you know, we’re going to we’re going to go here, the global impacts of this are so unknown in Alberta. The you know, the economy is so intertwined with the kind of the both the oil and gas sector, the global economic recessions. It’s going to be really hard. And I think the next hundred days, maybe our best bet is to be very observant, what’s happening? And begin to identify potential pathways that this can take and collectively have that kind of discussion back regionally and nationally. And, of course, you know, on some level, our national response of the federal government’s going to be. To be like just absolutely essential. And we don’t know. We don’t know where that’s going. So signposts.
Mary Rowe [00:47:40] Alison and then Catherine go.
Allison Ashcroft [00:47:43] Yeah, I just got to be really specific about some of the things I think in the next hundred days need to happen. And I appreciate what Kourosh and Michael, have to say. and those are longstanding issues. And I think we need to be OK with people turning up to conversations angry because there’s some really well-founded anger there and what they have to say is really important. And so you just have to put aside the discomfort with that anger that you’re receiving and a little bit of humility about your lack of understanding around those issues. But for me, for the next hundred days, I see some really concrete actions. I think that that’s what’s going to come in the next hundred days, hopefully. So it was alluded to. McKenna is our minister of Infrastructure and communities, is going to take some fairly large announcements. She was interviewed last week on The National Observer. Made some allusions to what that might look like. And she talked about the fact the need that these dollars need to play double and triple duty and that and that they need to be very they need some really good socio demographic data so that they are not just funding projects or buildings or, you know, rec centers, community centers. I think she mentioned. It matters as much about the project itself as where that project is and who is benefiting from that project. And so they really want to be making sure that it’s going into vulnerable neighborhoods and it’s going to be soon and it’s going to be catering to those needs. The other is the bailout for municipalities has to come in the next hundred days. The you know, the the the discussion or debate between federal and provincial governments around who’s going to pay and how they’re going to backstop it and whatever, just needs to get figured out because municipalities have been on the hook for, you know, more than 10 billion in extraneous dollars. They’re burning 400 million a month on transit. They’re starting to pull back on service because they they don’t have the money. They do not have the ability to run into deficits. And they and and they haven’t been given in most provinces the ability to exempt property taxes for this particular cycle. So it trickles down whatever doesn’t come down to the municipalities in the way of a backstop for their for their costs and their loss of user fees and other revenues is going to trickle down to their community in the form of higher property taxes ultimately and and lower levels of service at a time when we really need to have those service levels high. So that that I think for us to get figured out in the next hundred days and then I just did my last thing is it’s all about collaboration and people I mean, we are talking about infrastructure and projects and we’re talking and we’re not talking about all the people that are needed to do those projects and then the people who were hoping to actually have benefit and be impacted by those projects. So I think we need to get a little bit more human centered and recognize that cities know what they need to do. They have strategies for a whole bunch of things. They’re the ones on the ground speaking with frontline workers and collaborate even better now than they ever have before with those frontline workers to get that work done. They need funding into their strategies, not into individual projects, one at a time. They don’t need to be hand-held through this. They know what they need and they just need to be empowered to do so and to work with their work with the frontline community is not a community partners who are going to help them do it.
Mary Rowe [00:50:54] Catherine and Michael.
Catherine Craig-St-Louis [00:50:56] Yeah. I wanted to just add on that discussion or or collaboration part and maybe for me, too. It speaks of how the rest of the next hundred days have to be collectively discussed. And that means empowering also all the groups that are not always included to the extent they are. Like recently in Quebec, there was a bill that didn’t pass. It’s been postponed to September and it was in the order to fast track a few of the infrastructure projects. So stuff will be built faster to give jobs and also answer some needs. But that was being done by reducing some of the environmental, for instance, checks and certificates to get or or studies to do. And population got out. Petitions were signed. Groups got together, planners, etc. to ask them not leave aside some of the things that we have to think of. It’s not because it’s going to give jobs fast and build things fast. How about our heritage that we could use? How about the groups that we want to help? It’s not to say that we don’t need those faster projects. Some of them will answer some very pressing needs, but we cannot just act like ask ourselves some short term questions. It’s got to be done with the people concerned. It’s got to be done through discussing it collectively. It’s got to be done by respecting our ecosystem and where we’re going to build those projects. So it was a short wage that just kind of resonate that thing in Quebec right now, that big discussion that’s going. That’s been going on. And I think it speaks of how we need to collaborate more.
Mary Rowe [00:52:28] You know, I think there’s a fear that we’re going to somehow, just as Robert said, go back to whatever the normal normal was, but also that we might make short term decisions in because people’s level of anxiety is high. It just will end up making bad decisions that are short term. I mean, Michael, you are going to have sort of liberation.
Allison Ashcroft [00:52:48] I mean, we’ve had amazing collaboration, but it’s been informal and ad hoc and it’s been ant trails. Right. And we need to formalize those networks and fun like, you know, a bit of a plug for me. You know, our our our network is largely unfunded. We connect 17 large cities across Canada. Of sustainability practitioners. Has high value people use it. People tap into it. Nobody wants to fund them. Networks need to be funded. And that’s also a way like right now as a chance to take those kind of informal networks that have been established and the way to not see them recede because people are just going to be busy and are going to move back to their almost their normal silos and worlds is to actually formalize them, fund them, fund better positions and all of these organizations that their job is to connect with one another. That’s their job.
Michael Redhead Champagne [00:53:32] Well, what I really love about that, what you’re saying is it’s perfect. Of what we need to think about for the next hundred days. Right. We have to look at the things that are working well. We have a measurement problem in this country. And I’ve said this a couple of times already with folks in CUI, but it’s important to say again that we can’t continue one only measuring deficits when we’re trying to find a solution to things. We have to look around and ask ourselves what is what? What is the presence of the solution and how can we get more of the solution, as opposed to only saying what’s the problem? How do we get less of the problem? So that’s something that I want to challenge folks on the next hundred days, moving forward basis to look at what’s working well. And guess what? If you are one of the people who is a usual suspect and you traditionally had power? Guess what? My challenge for you is to sit back, step aside and let some of those folks in your community that have not normally had a voice at the table or who have not often been able to exercise their own voices in city building, in identifying solutions that those folks have space at the table. And so I really want to challenge folks to do that as we move forward, because, again, if we go back to normal, I’m a that’s that’s not OK. And I don’t think that any of us are all right with that happen.
Mary Rowe [00:54:58] Allison you want to say something quickly, I we’re going to go to Kourosh and back to Kate.
Allison Ashcroft [00:55:03] And your challenge. Let’s not say I agree. You got to step step back. But I think it’s more than just letting someone else step in. It has to be more than that. You know, providing a seat at the table doesn’t mean that somebody has the ability or the capacity to meaningfully participate. We need to recognize the value of the experience. We need to compensate it fairly. And we need to make sure that they have the capacity to be there stable in certain funding for for our nonprofit community partners and a recognition that advisory committees and whatever they think, it’s not fair to invite somebody to that. When you’re talking about, you know, it’s e you’re not going to you’re not going to not participate when you get invited something that’s about you that affects you. So you’re going to turn up because you have to. But it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be funded or paid for for it and that you don’t have it and that you’re not strained by capacity. So, you know, people are showing up for these conversations because it’s about them. But we need to actually value them, make sure they’ve got the proper capacity to be in those conversations. It’s not just about letting them participate.
Michael Redhead Champagne [00:56:06] Thank you so much.
Mary Rowe [00:56:07] So so, Kourosh, Robert and then Kate to take us home. Go ahead. Crush you, Alison.
Kourosh Rad [00:56:12] That’s Michael Allison. Both both points extremely important. It’s about empowering. It’s about doing things differently than we have always done. And I think this is a challenge for me because, you know, I ask people, have you gone to the you know. And I keep using this example me is just so cut, so deep. African Nova Scoitans, they say yeah we had a consultation session with them we included. That’s not enough. It needs to be empowering and it is over years. There’s always constantly this sense of urgency put on projects and they get pushed through just because, you know, it’s at someone else’s deadline. And then they never bring the whole community with them at the same time. One thing I do want to say as well as. I think it’s important over the next hundred days to be vocal. I think it’s important not to to just see things going back to normal and say some say it’s a nothing. I think I personally chosen to make it because I don’t have any official roles or powers that I can influence things directly. But I’ve chosen my my mission is going to be to continue to be vocal, despite the fact that, you know, what other people are saying to me, that, oh, you’re burning bridges or a counselor literally told me you’re burning bridges. At this point, I think it’s time to burn bridges. There is there are no bridges to go. We don’t need bridges to go back to. As Michael said, there’s no normal, normal is broken. We don’t want to go back to that. So I’m going to continue burning bridges. And I encourage people who can continue doing the same thing because we don’t want to move backwards. We want to move forward.
Mary Rowe [00:57:41] You know, you you a burn, Richard, particular bridge for an hour, but you’re also a bridge builder Cross. Sorry to tell you that, but you are. I mean, you also me. Well, you’re you’re you’re it’s not like you’re not putting something you up. You’re putting up a new and new possibility. Robert to you and then Kate for.
Robert Plitt [00:58:01] Yeah. I feel like this sort of you know, that conservative old man here. I think so. I want to want to give up a bit of a plug and go back to the set of the data. I think, you know, I think CUI and Gabriel and Neil put out kind of a case for why we need an urban observatory. I think accelerating that over the next hundred days, figuring out how regionally we are, are creating the structures to be able to do that. I think or is is critical. You know, I think there’s something going on. There’s an eerie quiet been here in Calgary. Like, it’s very strange right now and I think, you know, it like I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Yeah. I think that there is a. Maybe a bit of a window right now. I think know for a long time there’s been a tremendous sort of distrust of government across all levels of government to some degree. And I think right now there is the potential where the value of government playing a an observably, really meaningful role in building an equitable society is the tent. There’s a potential for that now. And I think somehow we need to figure out how we’re going to balance, you know, our frustrations with the inability of government to have created the conditions where this would not have happened. And at the same time, embrace the importance of those institutions and be able to have to act at the scale that we need to provide at that local level that we need it. So I think over the next hundred days, having a really good conversation about the value and the role of government in constructing a new deal or whatever you want to call it is it’s it’s it’s it’s at our fingertips and we should we should grab it.
Mary Rowe [01:00:14] Kate, last word for you and then I’m going to do a little plug for the next week going to Kate.
Kate Graham [01:00:19] Well, I really appreciate the discussion today. If you check out the report, you will see that it begins by reflecting on 100 years ago and the pandemic that we were facing then. This is not the first nor the last pandemic. But what we have seen throughout history is that these have been moments where transformative change is possible. We owe some credit to everything from public health in this country to clean water and wastewater systems to communities rising up in response to crisis. So similar to many of the comments here. I think this is a moment this is the political scientists and me talking. Change is not always possible, but this is a moment where it is. But it will require us to keep our eyes open and be absolutely vigilant in paying attention to the science we’re seeing around us. And there’s lots we don’t know and lots we can’t control. But we can control how we react to this and the kinds of problems we want to solve through this. So I think this is a really important discussion and one that I hope continues for the next hundred days and possibly much longer beyond.
Mary Rowe [01:01:22] I was where you were to say the next hundred years, and then I was going to really feel tired. But thanks everybody for joining us for this one. You can see why we’re so lucky at CUI that we have five folks like this that are helping us try to understand what’s going on across the country. And we’re very appreciative of having our regional leaders on the phone with us. And, in fact, the McConnell Foundation it made it possible for us to have you supporting us in this way through the next hundred days. We hope so. And I see there on them on the broadcast. So thanks, McConnell, for checking in. But, you know, this is the kind of hard work that we now have to start to engage in. We’ve been sort of coping for a hundred days, and now we’ve got to see whether we can actually move to what the new structures will be. So in, Michael, your comment about moving to action? We have three more city talks this week and tomorrow. It is actually called moving to action. It is the second part of how do we respond to anti-Black racism in urban practices, urbanist practices and conversations. And many of you will know that that city talk session that we had, Jay Pitter host it, she’s coming back with the same four panelists, Orlando, Tamika, Anthonia and Will. And as we joke around, they broke the Internet that day. We had two thousand people on that session and one we’ll have that many tomorrow, but that’s tomorrow. And it’s at eleven thirty eastern, folks. It’s half an hour early. So you’ve got to have your lunch early or have your coffee earlier or have your afternoon tea that earlier, depending on which time zone you are. Then on Thursday we’re having a very serious conversation with Don Iveson who is the mayor of Edmonton and also the head of the big city mayors, part of the federation victims families and the newly minted CEO of the various names parties, Carole Saab. And they are going to talk with me specifically about what is in front of municipal governments under this extraordinary financial crisis they’re facing. What what has to happen immediately to help them with that? But also what are the systemic things that many of you mentioned here? How do we actually get resources into the hands of people who were nimble? Catherine, as you said, who have the capacity to know what really has to happen on the ground and to try to not go back to normal or whatever that was to actually emerge with the kinds of government. Robert, as you suggested, that we need to support and deal with those fundamental challenges that you were flying, that Alison was exposing to begin. And then on Friday, we have a interesting conversation with LaToya Cantrell, she is the mayor of New Orleans. New Orleans Has been struggling for three hundred years with its own resilience. It’s had many, many, many crises, a social crises, economic crises and environmental crises. And she is the mayor and has come up from as a community organizer to actually leading that city. And she’ll be with us for a very, very brief half hour, because New Orleans has been one of the epicenters of the outbreak. But they have all sorts of other challenges as people are aware. It’s a very important, historic city with lots of lessons around how do you really struggle to put together a resilient and livable community. So thanks for joining us. Thanks, you guys. Really great to see you all together. Thanks for sharing your wisdom. We’re gonna to read the report box. And we’re gonna go back and watch your videos from Friday Box. And I’m going to talk to each of you lots. Oh, thanks, everybody. Great session. See you.