What is the future of our shared civic places as we cope with and emerge from COVID?

Joining CUI host Mary Rowe our session “What is the future of our shared civic places as we cope with and emerge from COVID?” are Graham Singh, Executive Director of Trinity Centres Foundation; Carol Coletta, President and CEO of Memphis River Parks Partnership; Natalie Voland, President and Chief Vision Officer of GI Quo Vadis Inc.; and Tim Jones, CEO of Artscape.

5 Key
Takeaways

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Civic spaces are more important now than ever before

According to Carole Coletta, during COVID-19, there has been an intensification of new uses for civic spaces—transitioning indoor activities to outdoor spaces, and from private to public uses. People are experiencing the importance of the civic commons for experiencing life’s simplest pleasures and fulfilling the need to be among other people.

2. Many civic spaces need to be ‘triaged’ to survive the pandemic

Many civic spaces are at risk of closing permanently—music venues, co-working spaces, arts and culture facilities, and more. Tim Jones makes the point that we need strategies to salvage these venues and help them survive into the future.

3. Municipal finance tools can be leveraged for change

Municipal finance is an important tool for change. Graham Singh discusses the planning and policy tools that can incentivize more investments in the civic commons: zoning and property taxation, adjustments and development benefits for meanwhile and transient uses, and more.

4. Make it profitable to do good for the community

Natalie Voland proposes that we need to change the business model—to make it profitable to do good for the community. Real estate tends to be worth more when it is developed near civic spaces such as the parks and schools. We need to get better at showing the return on investment for caring about the future of our shared commons.

5. We need to make the case for the place

Carole proposes that moving forward, we need to get better at making the political case for funding our civic assets: at all three levels of government, and across the country. No one profession can lead this—we’re all in it together.

 

Resources

Full Panel
Transcript

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 events@canurb.org with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary Rowe [00:00:01] Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute, really pleased to be welcoming you to a city talk. Here we are in an absolutely uncharacteristically, for November, beautiful day in Toronto, which is the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit and the Ojibwe, the Anishinaabe, and the Wyandot peoples. And I’ve missed one and the Mississaugas of the Credit, I think I said, and many, many diverse First Nations and Inuit peoples that have made their home here in Toronto. And we are covered by two treaties, the Williams treaty and treaty 2013. And we have been over the last several months convening these conversations, City Talk. I think we’ve had seventy-five of them. And through this and our other work at CUI leads in coming to terms with the history of systemic racism, anti-Black racism and exclusion that urbanism has lamentably reinforced again and again and again, and how we are going to come to terms with that in terms of, in terms of the legacy that we were presented with and that many of us have contributed to. And then how do we alter the practices as we move forward now and have this moment, this collective pause we have around the world to rethink how we connect people with place. And this session is critically important because it’s about sharing civic spaces and how have they been faring during Covid and then what is what are we learning through Covid and how should they potentially alter, change and evolve as we emerge from Covid? The group that we have on this session today have been engaged in this discussion for many years. They all look much younger than they appear in terms of their experience. But they’ve been at it for many years and have been pioneers in this work of how cities are actually about congregate spaces. And here we are at a time when congregation of all kinds is under siege because it’s not safe or it hasn’t been safe, or it’s been a to actually transmit the virus. So, it’s an important moment, as I suggested, a reckoning for all of us. And as you know, we video these series, we post them afterwards. We post the highlights of what these folks are going to say. We also have a chat function, which we encourage all of you to use and look forward to your comments there. Just remember that what goes in the chat stays in the chat. CUI is propelled by volunteers across the country, coast to coast. And we have an American with us, thank goodness, today. So nice to have my old friend Carol with us. So we’re across North America often and we look forward to having anybody that wants to engage in these conversations, you can always write us at covidresponse@cui.org and just give us suggestions of new topics, new people you want to have on things that you need to think need to be grappling with. So, for this hour, we’re going to talk specifically about what’s the current challenge and environment in a civic place and a civic space and the questions we always frame these with or what’s working, what’s not and what’s next. So, I think we’ll go first to our American guest, Carol Coletta, who’s coming into us today from Memphis with her dog on her feet. And she won’t be that envious of this gorgeous weather that I’m experiencing in Toronto, because I’m sure it’s a beautiful day in Memphis, as it often is. I see on your Facebook page beautiful shots of the waterfront in Memphis and you’ve been there for three years. Prior to that, you and I were colleagues doing national work in the US. And so, I’m really pleased to welcome you to City Talk and particularly interested in hearing your perspective in the work that you’re doing grounded in place right there in Memphis. So, talk to us what the experience has been. Give us a bit of a picture for this audience of what you’ve been seeing and what you’re experiencing there. Welcome.

 

Carol Coletta [00:03:34] Well, thank you, Mary, and it’s great to see you again. Let me just situate who I am and where I’m working. I run something called the Memphis River Parks Partnership. We manage two hundred fifty acres, over five miles of riverfront adjacent to downtown. It is also six blocks from the poorest zip code in Tennessee and the crescent of neighborhoods around our downtown house about 40 percent of children in Memphis living in low income neighborhoods. Memphis is a predominantly black city and a predominantly black county in a metro area where the largest demographic is African-American. So just to situate who we are as a city, just to say we never closed. I mean, we’re parks. And that has been both a challenge and a gift during this time. Like most other parks, we’ve seen this big increase in use with the addition of or intensification of activities that moved either from inside to outside or from private to public, or both. Activities such as private gym classes or yoga classes have increased in outdoor space. We’ve also seen with schools closed, a lot of high school gym, high school teams working out in our parks. And so that’s been really interesting. We’ve also seen this big increase in people engaging in life’s simplest pleasures, just walking and biking and picnicking. And then there’s a huge increase in scooter use as recreation. So, I guess one other notable change for me, as someone who uses the space every day, there’s been a real increase in neighborliness in the place. And you see that expressed through just nods and greetings or kind of a quick word. I think there’s such a hunger during this pandemic for people to see other human beings. I mean, being in the company of strangers, people have long for that. And that’s sort of the upside, I guess, of this terrible time we’ve been in.

 

Mary Rowe [00:05:49] Of the two hundred and fifty acres, Carol, how much of it is developed?

 

Carol Coletta [00:05:54] Developed? It is all parkland. It is at different levels of development. I mean, some parks haven’t been touched in years, decades, and it all has different quality. Some of it, for instance, goes underwater, we’re on the Mississippi River. I should say that since this is such a storied river, we’re actually at the Mississippi River at its widest and wildest point. The Mississippi River at Memphis rises and falls 50 feet a year. So sometimes if you’re on the water, you can feel like you’re at the bottom of a coffee cup. Right. I mean, everything above you, the land is so steep, we’re actually on a high bluff as well. So the condition of the river changes and we have at least one park, that big chunk of which goes underground. And I’ll tell you what, when the river recedes, you would not fathom what we manage as human beings to put in the water. So, we get left with houses, washing machines. I mean, it’s like crazy. So anyway, the joys of actually running something, Mary, versus dealing in policy and [inaudible].

 

Mary Rowe [00:07:12] It’s a shift for you. You’ve had a transition there, which is fantastic, and I love that. But your career has been as varied as it is. And of the two hundred and fifty acres, they are all managed by this partnership.

 

Carol Coletta [00:07:22] Yes. It’s a public private partnership. It was founded about twenty-one years ago when the city said, you know what, we can’t keep the riverfront in the condition. We should hear you take it. That was a 501C3 nonprofit organization formed. I was actually part of the formation way back then, but it never really developed much. It really was more of a clean and maintain kind of organization. And in the three years, almost three years, not quite now, three years I’ve been here, and we’ve managed to redevelop two former confederate parks. Thank God. The state got rid of the statue created a six-mile trail along the riverfront. And we’re now starting on two big projects, one thirty-one-acre park and another major is the largest cobblestone, historic cobblestone landing in the country. And we are about to restore that as well. So, a lot of development work has gone on.

 

Mary Rowe [00:08:33] And the 250 acres, are they contiguous?

 

Carol Coletta [00:08:36] They are. We’ve got you know, we’ve got some. I need to quit something that’s popped up. We’ve got one piece of property that is on the far south end, you would need to go under three bridges to get to it. And that’s one of the future projects that I think we’ll undertake is making that connection. We used to do it when I was much younger. We’d walk under there informally, but now railroads and folks said if you walk under a bridge or try to develop under a bridge.

 

Mary Rowe [00:09:12] Yeah, fascinating. OK, Graham, let’s go to you next if we could.

 

Graham Singh [00:09:18] Thank you so much, Mary. Carrol, I’m just like electrified by what you’re saying. And there’s so many connections with church properties and parks. You know, this group of partners that have come together to look at that. Of course, churches represent some of our most important green spaces in Canada and I know in America as well. And there’s some amazing, amazing connections. One of the big differences is churches haven’t realized that they now steward these urban assets. They just thought of it “that’s my church”. They don’t think of it as a heritage space where congregation Mary, as you said, could be done differently in those parts. As I go through the list of how you’re describing things along the river and in a sense, the junk of the river and of human brokenness coming onto that land, I think of church properties often surrounded by some of the most hard to solve urban problems. And, of course, they attract charities, nonprofits that the churches want to help. And often they aren’t very well equipped to do that, let alone dealing with the rest of the city in the urban environments around them. In some cases, you can literally see, you know, like if you go to Pompeii or some ancient site where you can see the levels of the floor in the excavation. I think many of our churches in Canada, you can actually see it from the sidewalk up to the front door of the church. You can see where that church was left behind as the flows, the tides of the city have gone back and forth. So, I’m Graham Singh, chief executive of Trinity Centers Foundation. I’m secretly an Anglican minister as well. But that’s my background. Looking at the question of what on earth do we do with all these churches that are closing? Massive changes in the church, we’d love to talk about that, but in this context, we’re talking about these churches as places that were given as Mary in the land acknowledgment, I’d like to further acknowledge a lot of the church lands we’re talking about come with First Nations questions associated with them. They were given lands as part of a European colonial process. They’ve been tax-exempt for years, billions of dollars in Canada, trillions in the U.S. of tax exemptions. And of course, they’re used by lots of different organizations these days. And we haven’t really got a strategy on how to think about them in the future. So big question marks up around there. And Mary, I just jumped in on there. I don’t know if you want me to go anywhere further in the in the intro there.

 

Mary Rowe [00:11:34] Why don’t you talk a little bit about Trinity centers and what you’re trying to do there. Can you just explain what the notion of the project is?

 

Graham Singh [00:11:41] Yes. If you call 1-800-mychurchisclosed, you end up calling a number of people in Canada. You might get a hold of Natalie, you might get a hold of Tim, who we’ll hear from in a minute. And you end up with a property developer or non-profits or an architect or a planner or some kind of business analyst. We had one church that the head of commerce from their local university had done a report saying, you know, your church is going to close in three years. And then they had three years of meetings where they said, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You know you think? Well, he’s the head of commerce for your university maybe he’s worth listening to. Anyways, the point is, you end up if you’re a church, particularly heritage church, considering maybe development, maybe a repositioning, you need all of these different people and architects, actually I could pick on any of them, they end up leading these projects in ways that go beyond their particular perspective, which becomes uncomfortable for them. So Trinity Centers Foundation, we kind of gathered that 1-800-mychurchisclosed team from Canada and said, let’s work together on this. And there are a few assumptions we made. One is nobody is going to get enormously rich from working on figuring out heritage church properties. And actually, maybe Natalie can speak to this, you know, private property developers who know what they’re doing are the first ones to say that, you know, this is a labor of love stuff and we need to recognize that in an urban context. The other is that no one profession can lead this. And so, Trinity Centers Foundation assumption is that we need everybody together on there. And the final one is that we need to come up with some kind of response to these things as public goods. And that does sometimes put us into conflict with some conversations in the church not all. I notice we have Jean Marc Mangin from Philanthropic Foundations of Canada on the call today, representing the granting foundations in Canada. Of course, those foundations for them, these churches are their original social impact portfolio. Right. You know that by the little brass plaques on the pews given by those families who are the wealthy granting foundations of Canada. And so, the public good nature of these places is something we want to underline over and above the idea of these being the property of any one religious organization, which legally they are. And we respect that fully. But we also want to work in the urban context to see that. So practically speaking, we have about a dozen active projects. I recognize Tim Sheiner from our Kitchener project here on the call today, where we act as consultants, bringing those team members together around those projects, trying to figure out we love highest, best use. Highest, best use is easy with churches, demolish the whole bloody thing and build a condo tower. That’s where the math will show. But if we want to deal with the heritage aspect of these places and deal with the placemaking this happen for generations, we might want something more like highest, most intelligent use which looks at these factors together. So that’s what we’re dedicated to. It’s wonderful to be part of this conversation. I’d say one more thing, Mary. I have loved the cross disciplinary learning here and one of the calls for CUI that I was on one of these seventy-five calls, there were over 700 people representing libraries. And I sat there, and I thought, oh my lord, is this with the library people are saying? I never knew that. So Covid in a sense has been a blessing, CUI even a blessing. And I’m just loving this. I’m going to hit mute. Can’t wait to keep talking.

 

Mary Rowe [00:15:01] Thanks Graham. One of the things that I think, or I hope we’ll touch on today is this notion of civic assets, which each of you are stewards of, each of your stewarding a different kind of a civic asset. And then this idea that when you connect them all together, you come up with something called the Civic Commons, which Carol and I were scheming about a number of years ago, which the US has really made material by creating these civic commons projects. But, Carol, I don’t know whether you just had a flash of deja vu because you and I presented many, many years ago to the American Library Association in Chicago when we started to talk about civic commons. And I’m telling you, we experience the full-bore effect of librarians Graham, coming at us saying just a second.

 

Graham Singh [00:15:42] Can I tell you. The one thing I picked up the most from that conversation was the discussion of adult loneliness and dealing with folks who are just on their. And you look at the number of us in a park, in a church, in a library where we’re dealing with this issue of isolation we knew about from before, it’s got a whole fresh new look. Anyways, I’ll pause.

 

Mary Rowe [00:16:02] So Tim, I’m going to come to you next but just before I do, I’ll just relay the anecdote the Graham’s referring to, which is that on that session we had the heads of library associations, Carol, chief librarians and I think five systems or four systems across the country. And one of them talked about how their staff decided quite early in the pandemic, they decided to call all their cardholders who were over seventy five years old, just to make sure that they knew how to use the digital system so they could move to getting their books online. And so, they started the process of determining who were those cardholders and then they call them. And the experience they had with the people that answered the phone was that, yes, they actually understood ahead of the deadline. But what they really appreciated was the call. And then they had a visit and then the staff reported back to the chief librarian that they had done this call and they wanted to do it every week. And so, they became librarians, really as connective tissue care mongers, social workers just calling their older cardholders just to have a visit every week. That’s the anecdote Graham’s referring to. There was a bit of a hush on that collective of call when he told that story. It was quite something. And it’s now rippled all over the place and every library’s doing it. OK, Tim, let’s go to you. Artscape.

 

Tim Jones [00:17:15] Thank you. And you know that piece of the conversation takes me back to kind of ultimately, we’re talking about civic common civic assets, but ultimately, it’s all about the people and I’ll come back to that in a second. So, Artscape is a thirty-four-year-old, not-for-profit Urban Development Organization. Our mission is to make space for creativity and transform communities. So, on the development side, we work at the intersection of arts and culture, urban development, community activism, philanthropy and public policy. Generally, it’s working with people in all of those areas in some slightly messy but hopefully brilliant, beautiful combination. And, you know, so in Toronto, we’ve developed, and we currently operate 14 different sites. We serve thousands of artists and creatives who are really at the core of our kind of our mission. And we serve them in lots of different ways through commercial space with hundreds of nonprofit organizational tenants, we have hundreds of people working live workspaces for artists that led families. We’ve got sort of rehearsal performance and exhibition space with forty-two different separate venues within our portfolio. So, there’s lots of different kind of connections between us and the creative community. You know, when the lockdown happened, you know, first and foremost, we were kind of concerned with the health and safety of all of our people. And that was a complicated thing to do because you can’t shut down housing like there were a lot of different kind of issues. And then we kind of turned to our own sustainability and looked at the massive gaps that we were facing in terms of the shutdown of our performance, event venues, and some of our coworking spaces, all of that kind of stuff. But the next thing we did was sort of we surveyed the creative people that we were supporting. There were thousands of people a year that kind of rely on us in some way for their livelihood or for different types of support. And we learned through a survey about three weeks into the lockdown that that 80 percent of the people that we’re serving have lost most of their income and that 40 percent of people were within weeks of food insecurity. And so that was a really sobering kind of thing, you know, because all of us, you know, we have different levels of exposure and risk with the pandemic, but that was kind of a really sobering thing and it really kind of was clarifying for the organization. We asked ourselves, what do we stand for in this moment? Is it do we shrink back and protect ourselves and batten down the hatches? Or do we actually step up and show leadership and figure out how do we help this massive community get through this horrible pandemic? And so, it’s kind of been energizing and exhausting at the same time as we’ve kind of retooled and we’ve put a lot of stuff online and we’ve kind of ramped up kind of the income generating opportunities we’re able to give to artists through a new program called Artscape. We’ve kind of launched a new national wayfinding platform to help connect creative people to grants, to work opportunities, to gigs, but also to help them understand, how do I navigate food banks if they’re going there for the first time. So, there’s been a lot of kind of creativity within our organization, but it’s certainly challenging. And this is kind of coming back to the theme of ultimately what people think about sort of our organizations, some of our organizations are being about real estate. Actually, it’s ultimately about the people that we’re serving and in our community, sort of with the collapse of both the gig economy and the service economies at the same time. It’s absolutely devastating. We’re also very mindful of the fact that sort of coming out the other side of this pandemic, that it’s the creative people that are going to help us reimagine what it means to coexist in public space, that are going to inspire us to kind of think differently, and that are going to kind of ignite some of the kind of ideas and innovations that are going to actually help us reinvent the world as we knew it. So, you know, we’re thinking a lot about that and how are our spaces can be platforms for that next generation of thinking about the future really. It’s not just limited to our civic commons. I think it’s really about thinking in the future.

 

Mary Rowe [00:21:43] Yeah Tim, there are always great Genesis stories about where an idea started. It started here, it started there. We all know of these examples where someone will say it started this way. But I actually, for a fact, know that creative placemaking was a term that was coined at an event that you convened first many years ago that I think Jane spoke at that Jane Jacobs spoke at another.

 

Tim Jones [00:22:08] We had an infamous conversation between Jane Jacobs and Richard Florida way back. And I think Carol was there moderating if I remember. You did, yes, you did but Carol was moderating something else.

 

Mary Rowe [00:22:22] Carol was there too, and it was just one of those moments that I think that, just hearken back to this notion of the relationship between the artist, the place and the community. Tim just in terms of the numbers, how big is the actual Artscape community? Can you give me some numbers of units or members of the community or what is it?

 

Tim Jones [00:22:43] So we have 14 different projects, they’re largely multitenant and kind of projects. We have two hundred and fifty units of affordable housing sort of within our portfolio. The larger part of it is our commercial space in which there are forty-two different public venues sort of and serving about two hundred and fifty different nonprofit organizations whose activities we house. We also host more than a thousand events a year and our performance in event venues. And we’re serving probably a community of about twelve thousand artists through learning programs, etc.

 

Mary Rowe [00:23:29] Wow, huge. As we were saying earlier, a legacy that you’re leading because Tim is moving on to a new phase in the new year. But having led Artscape since its founding, didn’t you Tim?

 

Tim Jones [00:23:38] No no. I’ve been here for twenty-two years.

 

Mary Rowe [00:23:41] So there was someone before you, but you’re the one that’s grown it and made it this remarkable thing. OK, Natalie, let’s go to you. You’ll just quickly clean up here. You come from the private sector and if you could just describe for us the work you do and your intersections with what your colleagues have just been talking about.

 

Natalie Voland [00:23:57] Sure, and to follow Tim? thanks for that, Mary. I really appreciate that.

 

Mary Rowe [00:24:01] You can fill in a few blanks.

 

Natalie Voland [00:24:05] So my name is Natalie. I run a company here in Montreal. Technically, I’m a social worker turned real estate developer, which are usually not hanging out together. It just so happened that I took over a portfolio of my father’s and I kind of got stuck with it and I realized that I was able to use it as a force for good. So, we’re actually Quebec’s first B-corp, which people didn’t know what it was at the time. We are freaks about heritage. So, I love old buildings. They’re built better. So, when we’re talking about the environmental and green movement, building that you retrofit is actually the best environmentally friendly lifecycle model opportunity compared to new construction, no matter how great you build it. We kind of got stuck with trying to start looking at how buildings serve people and not profit. We make money, so we are not a nonprofit. We’ve chosen to go that way because I think that if we really want to scale social impact, it has to have a financial model behind it. I come from the nonprofit world as a social worker, and you always spend the first year building your team, your second-year service delivery, your third year looking for funding for your work, which is kind of crappy. So, we try to start figuring, well, I get stuck with buildings, how can I actually make buildings about humans, which in the real estate industry, that’s a big deal. So, of course, when I met Tim and I was extremely inspired by Artscape in Toronto. So, wait a second, I have a tribe. Like I’m part of something like I’m not alone. I’m just in the wrong group. So, I started looking at how do we bridge the world between social purpose real estate, which I didn’t understand. And I kind of hung out with the McConnell Foundation, with Steven, who is also recently retired. My situation is I didn’t understand that you could actually use the buildings as a civic asset. I didn’t understand that it’s not something the real estate community have any concept of at all. So, we ended up buying a church, renovating a church, which probably why how we hooked up with Ephrem a little bit. But the idea is that these buildings have so much history. Like when we turned one hundred, we’re now one hundred and ten at Dompark, which is one of our babies. We ended up doing a book like all about the history, and we started finding all these families who had stories of like how they worked in this building, which was a spinning factory for Fred and how their grandparents met here and got married and how the role of women in business and women in manufacturing changed and what’s the whole role around employment and quality of life? So, when we took over all the buildings, we brought in gyms and daycares and dog parks and we just listened to our tenants. What a strange concept. But if we link it to Covid, I have to say that I made some pretty strong decisions early on with my team who I love and was able to lead. And we said we’re not letting anyone off, we’re not closing the buildings. We’re going to keep them safe. We have to clean them every three hours, which is awful because that’s a huge amount of increased prices. And we work on affordable offices and we do mixed use developments. So, our profit is lower than other companies as far as the for-profit business. But by doing the decisions, we have amazing staff. We were paid ninety eight percent of our rents until the program came in. And then of course, we were the first people to say, yes, we’re going to take that so that we can help. But remember that it’s twenty five percent that we eat that we’re not able to charge back as an example. The banks were certainly not there to help us out at all. But there are certain decisions that you need to make that we refuse to change. And even the tenants that have unfortunately left us because they’ve lost their businesses or the two hundred and fifty artists that are here, by the way, not one of them is gone out of business. So, we support three hundred artists in some of our buildings. The fact is that we’ve already filled those spaces again. So, we’re full and we have a waiting list and we don’t understand how the hell that happened. But if you care about humans before the dollar, the dollar can be made responsibly. So, we’re just trying to prove a different kind of business model so that we can support these types of amazing initiatives that you guys have just spoken about. It’s hard to be the last person behind all your amazingness, but I got to step up to the plate. I hope that we have a great time.

 

Mary Rowe [00:28:55] You did just fine. So, I want us to think about, we’ve got sort of the balance of the time to talk about what do you think is ahead and what do you think the challenges are. So, I want to talk about money. How big a challenge is it to actually leverage the dollars to make these kinds of places? And what a private developer, a couple of not for profits and then a hybrid. Carol, I’m calling you a hybrid. Carol can you talk to us a bit about this part being in Memphis, you’re running a national program with philanthropy behind you. And I’m assuming that part of the equation is how do you leverage investment to create and sustain these kinds of places? Tell us what your experience is or what your gut instincts are about Covid and the impact that’s going to have on having money to do this kind of work?

 

Carol Coletta [00:29:43] Well, it’s a great question. And let me say we’re a hybrid, as you say. And so we get an annual allocation from our city government for operations. It’s the same amount of money we’ve had since 2014. So, we’ve stretched that money in big ways.

 

Mary Rowe [00:30:04] How do they get that money, Carol?

 

Carol Coletta [00:30:07] That’s just general.

 

Mary Rowe [00:30:10] No levy? There’s no park levy?

 

Carol Coletta [00:30:13] No, no, no. That’s from the general fund.

 

Mary Rowe [00:30:14] But does Memphis derive most of its budget from property taxes and user fees? And then I’m assuming some grant money from the state and from the feds.

 

Carol Coletta [00:30:23] Sales tax too. And so, they’ve preserved the money and we got the same allocation this year that we got last year, very little capital money for much needed improvements because consider we manage properties that really have not had any investment in 40 years. And then we get tagged with things like, well, hey guys, we need the city to come in and do those kinds of improvements. But we also have our earned revenue and our earned income is from both dockings, boats going up and down the Mississippi river for pleasure. Guess what happened to the cruise business? We make money from parking and of course, what happened to parking with offices not being full. So that’s been really tough on our business. And we, frankly, operate with almost no grant funding in our operating budget. Now we’re in the midst of a sixty one million dollar capital campaign where we’ve raised 30 from three sectors of government and we’ll raise thirty one from the private sector.

 

Mary Rowe [00:31:47] What’s the budget?

 

Carol Coletta [00:31:51] Our budget a little over five million dollars a year.

 

Mary Rowe [00:31:58] And when you look over your shoulder, are you looking at the Mississippi River?

 

Carol Coletta [00:32:02] Yes. I have to like do that from here. But absolutely. In fact, we’re really lucky. We’re on the ninth floor of an office building that has an extraordinary view. But I always like to tell people who are all worried about the fact I’m going to put trees in a park and they’re going to block their view. It’s like, well, you know what? The best view is right down there on the riverfront. Take a walk.

 

Mary Rowe [00:32:27] So in terms of your national work, prior to moving to Memphis, when you were looking at models to fund these civic commons projects across the country, was it always I mean, you know, a lot of the Millennium Park, for instance, in Chicago, is it always sort of, in your view, the best kind of leverage of mix of funding.

 

Carol Coletta [00:32:47]  Really if you go back to the origin of civic commons, the idea I mean, and it was funded with philanthropy starting at the Knight Foundation, bringing in Kresge and Rockefeller and J.P. Bee Foundation and God love them all, really at least my intention was to local governments, and it’d be great if the feds did the same thing, but local governments to recognize the value of these assets, these civic assets, particularly working together to produce outcomes that are beyond the traditional work of the of the asset. And there are two issues with that. I mean, I think that people are really afraid to lean in to the idea that local government ought to fund these assets robustly. That’s number one.

 

Mary Rowe [00:33:48] You don’t think we’re there yet?

 

Carol Coletta [00:33:51] Oh, God, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. And I think there’s this magical thinking about philanthropy is going to save us all. And there’s never going to be enough money in philanthropy to fund parks and libraries and so forth. So, you really have to make that case, I think in the US, you’ve got to make it locally and then nationally I’d love to expand the definition of infrastructure. It is not just roads, bridges and maybe some transit, it should be the civic assets that help create and underpin community life. But I think the second issue, frankly, Mary, that has been one of my great frustrations. I think, Graham, you are talking about these conversations have been Catholic in a sense that they have participation from a number of sectors. That is so much easier said than done. And, you know, when you’re in a vertical, a library sector, a park sector, et cetera, it is so hard. I mean, it’s what Nathalie’s trying to do. It’s just so hard to get them to think across the boundaries. They’re not trained that way. They’re not paid that way. They don’t have the time to do it. It’s risk. And they’re government employees, so they’re not incentivized to take risk. I think the human part of this that’s really so difficult. And so, there’s a lot of work to be done around that. I mean, we can produce, and we have. We produced a lot of great stories in the Civic Commons network, the reimagines Civic Commons network. But I just I think there’s this there’s still work to do on those two fronts.

 

Mary Rowe [00:35:41] Graham, you’re nodding your head.

 

Graham Singh [00:35:43] No, I mean, this is so huge. The Civic Commons, we’ve hosted a number of civic commons, you know, instances, large group gatherings, reports, et cetera, some of which been done with the city of Montreal, other civic actors coming together. But that that part where you sit back and say this is a great dream. Now let’s look at the reasons why this is not happening. Let’s look at the barriers on this. And one of things I love about Natalie and about Tim is, and I love about the work we’re doing on here, is we’ve been acquiring sites, looking at how to run them financially, figuring out the kind of capital stack that’s needed, and then looking at the operating finances in detail. And if you look at churches, you know, if you used a rule of thumb and said, the average large heritage church in Canada has twenty to twenty five percent of its budget written off through local tax exemption, if they were paying commercial taxes on the site they have. And if you go over to, I want to pick up something Natalie said and saying, without shame, without any kind of hesitation, we’re running this as a for profit. It’s a B-corp. it’s doing the right thing. It’s less profitable and it’s there. I think one of the things that’s happened, I’m actually speaking at the Ontario nonprofit conference later today, and there is this belief that somehow there’s a reticence from charities and non-profits to be working in a commercial setting in this area. I don’t think that reticence is there. I think actually people realize what we’re talking about is somewhere between a B-corp and a charity and a nonprofit and a municipality. There’s space in between that. There are problems with local tax codes. There are problems with what charity can bring in in terms of earned revenue and the difference of B-corps. We’ve just found another tax issue that we didn’t know between charities and nonprofits because our main charities set up National as a charity and then each of the operating companies is a separate nonprofit. But all of these issues together, and I’ll mention a couple of others. We have Rob Pageau from National Trust for Canada on the call here today as well. We’re not tying what we think of as heritage funding together with what we’re thinking of as makerspace is, Artspace is dealing with the poorer end financially of that as Tim mentioned. We’re not pulling these things together. And these are silos that I agree with Carol one thousand percent. The people responsible for some of those bits of funding, they don’t have an incentive in bringing them together. However, there are legal hooks in their programs that we need to grab hold of. And sometimes it is buttonholed and say, hey, do you see this objective that you’re meant to deliver? I mean, I’ll give you example in Montreal, the municipal government has now spent 80 million dollars building a new fifty thousand square foot community center. It’s a lot of money. They’re paying that as a lease to a developer at the old Children’s Hospital site who got the site for a song and the developer is building it. Nowhere in that process was the issue of social housing, schools, heritage buildings considered. So actually, all of those flows of money are coming from the provincial government. Nobody pulled those together. Everybody passes the buck in the end. It was the last guy who was elected or whatever. And so, when we look at these, I say one final thing, we look at this at the end of the day, we mentioned philanthropic funding. Most of what we mean by philanthropic funding is the three or four percent that’s granted out of those foundations per year. But we’re not doing is touching the ninety five percent that’s invested. Look at big institutions, the universities, the endowment funds. We are not touching those. And this is the area of impact investment. And I want to say that I personally put a lot of hope in that area. It’s a bit of a crazy dream. ESG, the UNSDGs, the Environment Social Governance, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, trying to reach into that area and find ways where government can say we may not provide additional capital here, but we’re going to provide significant encouragement to those funds to use their funds in that way. Natalie mentioned Stephen from McConnell Foundation. You know, they’ve done a lot of work on this, but now is the time. And I’ll just say one final thing, Michael. Sometimes there is a group of people who kind of glaze over when you get to this level of complexity. They think, come on, let’s just get over here, over there. This is one where I want to say, guys, this is bloody complex, and we’ve got to hold people’s feet to the fire and figure some of this stuff out.

 

Mary Rowe [00:39:59] Natalie, can I go to you, please, and then I want to talk to recircle with Tim. In terms of, you’re a private investor, you’re an investor, you actually have access to capital and you’re actually, I see you nodding, about not just your own capital, but other capital. And is there a way to break this logjam and actually get these deals? My sense is that part of the dilemma is that these maybe smaller deals and that the large banks and the large financial institutions do big transactions. But you’ve done a number yourself.

 

Natalie Voland [00:40:27] So I’m going to attack this in two ways. Number one, Graham mentioned highest and best use. So, developers here, well, across Canada are kind of like always stuck with financing that is associated to investment, that is associated to highest and best use, which is always high-end condos. For the record, like the second that you ask an evaluator to do an evaluation on a piece of property to either be redeveloped or a piece of land that you’re going to develop, you’re supposed to do that. And if not, you’re going against your company to give things away. And the problem is, if everyone is telling you to build high end condos, it’s kind of like going against the grain to be able to say welcome to the schools.

 

Mary Rowe [00:41:15] You mean your investor is saying that the other way, that highest, and I don’t know if this is true in the US, Carol, but here in Canada, highest and best use affects existing buildings as well, where you may have a building that’s of a certain size and has a bunch of artists and we have circled them in Canada and their tax rate and their mill rate is determined based on highest and best use. So even though they’re not an 80-story condo, they’ll pay a property tax assessment that is way out of scale with the revenues they’re going to get. So, it happens at both ends, the beginning when you’re trying to get financing and then once you’re actually built, keep going there Natalie

 

Natalie Voland [00:41:45] Well, in Quebec, they decided to kind of nail the developers or the owners for the taxes. So, we used to have a different tax rate for our tenants that were artists because each tenant was taxed individually and then they ended up doing a new type of tax, which was called the tax Francoise or whatever. And what they ended up doing is delivering the tax to me, regardless of who was there. So, the tenants now had a lower rate because I decide to do those leases, so I don’t mess with my tenants. So, I do gross leases compared to this lease, which is a whole different conversation. And so, I got stuck holding. And so obviously, if a regular person be like, well, I don’t want the artists because they’re paying a lower price per square foot, at the end of the day, what am I going to do with the rest? So, the problem is, regardless of access to capital, because we usually have to buy our properties cash. Once they’re full, then we get to finance them because the banks are not behind us and there’s not enough impact investment except for cool stuff that CSI is doing and whatever. But there’s just not enough money to do it. So, I can only do X amount of projects a year as an example or whatever, because I don’t have that kind of piece. Now what I’ve done is I’ve refinanced all of my buildings, pulled out liquidity because I’ve made an increase in the value of our properties because they’re older, well run blah, blah, blah. I pulled that out and use that capital to continue to buy other things. So that’s the only way that I’ve been able to figure it out, even though I’ve kind of said as an example, because we’re a B-corp, we do a lot for the community. If I give a donation to a nonprofit, I get a tax receipt. However, if I mentor different associations and companies to be more socially and environmentally impactful, good for me. No tax. So, hold on a second. The nonprofits have been in the world, they don’t necessarily have all the skill sets that they need to have to be able to run their properties fiscally or level. So, the situation is, is that you’re telling me I should give some sort of consultant who doesn’t give a crap about the asset in the end, twenty, thirty, forty fifty thousand dollars. They can do the work that’s going to cost me five thousand dollars to do. But I won’t get a tax benefit from the amount of time that I’m putting in that I’m not investing in my other assets.

 

Mary Rowe [00:44:09] Are you suggesting we need some tax tools, new tax tools that would I mean, one tax tool that I think of with Graham, is if we went to faith institutions and said if you don’t convert your buildings into multi use and civic purpose buildings, we’re going to start taxing you the way everybody else is taxed, that might get their attention. But are there other tools, Natalie, that you need and then I want to go to Tim, who’s done a whole series of these. Are there tools specifically that you’d like to see introduced that would get more people like you doing what you’re doing?

 

Natalie Voland [00:44:36] So the funny thing is, that’s what I’m doing my PhD on.

 

Mary Rowe [00:44:38] OK, get on it.

 

Natalie Voland [00:44:40] What I’m trying to do is to try to figure out what are the business models that are needed to be able to offset some of those additional costs that are associated to environmental or community stewardship. So, the situation is it’s an if, and, or, but. It’s all of them, because you have to have, as an example, some incentives for tax credits of things that you do that are good for the community, one. Bonus density could be another one, fast tracking zoning changes because a lot of these buildings as an example of the church that I run, it’s no longer a church and it hasn’t been a church for many, many, many years. And it took us five years to get the zoning change, which means that I have to carry those costs of an empty building. I said, OK, well, let me give it to nonprofit groups. Let them pay just the cost of the operating to put the lights on. No, I’m going to get taxed on that, so I can’t do that. I had to keep the building empty.

 

Mary Rowe [00:45:32] There’s got to be some kind of tax adjustment for meanwhile use, which I think is going to become a huge conversation in terms of public transit. So, I guess we’re going to have a lot of these. Tim, you’ve actually developed a whole, you’re twenty-one buildings. Is it twenty-one I think you said? These did not all happen in one fell swoop, right? You did them incrementally. And that’s why I’m so interested that Carol’s got two hundred and fifty acres that she’s got to try to steward at the same time. But is there something from your years of experience to suggest what the right scale is? You’re muted, Tim.

 

Tim Jones [00:46:08] You know, there’s not a sort of single answer to that. We’ve used many different models and our specialty is kind of building stuff with other people’s money, whether it’s philanthropy, whether it’s impact investment, whether it’s traditional bank financing. And, you know, the one rule that I kind of live by is that if the vision is compelling enough, you’ll attract the interest and investment to make it happen. And sometimes it takes a lot of time and effort to actually get to that vision, but to make it compelling enough to do it. And I think that probably applies to most people. I do want to pick up this conversation about the, you know, what are the tools that we need. And often there’s kind of you know, the focus is on kind of trying to engineer kind of different tools that will kind of.

 

Mary Rowe [00:47:11] And we’ll see if he comes back. I just want to say that in all our broadcast, there’s city talk.

 

Tim Jones [00:47:19] Tim, you’re going to have to run that again

 

Tim Jones [00:47:21] So we’re doing some work at Artscape with a group called The World’s Cities Culture Forum, which is kind of a network of 40 plus global cities. It’s like the C40 of culture. And several years ago, they declared that the biggest threat to culture and global cities is the urban affordability crisis, and the impact that has on the creative community. And so, you know, in looking at these sort of similar issues across multiple cities, kind of what we kind of realized is that what cities and city builders need to focus on is not just one tool, but actually an enabling environment that actually supports all of this activity. So, there’s planning and policy tools, funding and finance tools and different kind of innovations and development approaches and I think similarly, the social purpose real estate movement is kind of helping to build and share kind of knowledge around some of these things. So I think that’s what’s really needed to actually sort of accelerate the development of this type of social purpose real estate that is not just a single kind of silver bullet to, you know, like waiting for impact investment to solve our problems, particularly now like the market for impact investment has just shriveled a lot because of the risk in the environment right now. So, I think we have to really think about the enabling environments in cities and city builders have a lot to do in that conversation.

 

Mary Rowe [00:48:53] Carol, have you got thoughts on what the labeling environment needs to be? Carol?

 

Carol Coletta [00:49:07] You know, it’s a really good question. I probably am more immersed right now in the way government operates and how government operates at minimum, with a civic and nonprofit sector.  I’m really deeply interested in how to break some logjams around these coalitions that have to form and then operate as coalitions to get the things done that we need done. What strikes me is, as each of you on this panel are operating, you began your operations. I mean, you’re not you didn’t start from inside, right? You’re sort of sitting outside of a mainstream or vertical or you’ve challenged the vertical in really strong ways. And Tim, I think your work has always stood right. You’ve got to feed in, at least two worlds and probably more. And so, for me, it’s sort of how do we create space for people to do this sort of collaborative work that actually results in something versus just talk. And it results in change in the systems that are sucking up the funding. And not I don’t mean that pejoratively. I mean, it’s just it is the way it is. I mean, we inherit these traditional systems. And so that for me is where I’m thinking about enabling today.

 

Mary Rowe [00:51:01] Yeah, I mean, it’s interesting that the examples that everybody is giving, I’m interested, Carol, in the Memphis context, has there ever been any pressure put on you that you should put housing into the parks?

 

Carol Coletta [00:51:14] No. And there won’t be. I mean, it’s such a different context, Mary. I think we got plenty of land for housing. My struggle is much more the housing that, you know, that sits along the bluff, a lot of which, believe it or not, a single family. So, then you create this tension between private and public and boy, that resonates. I mean, that is deep and fraught with all kinds of issues and I deal with them every single day.

 

Graham Singh [00:51:55] Mary, I’d like to throw in three tools that I think should give hope to people and have given hope to me as examples. One is just to look at what happens with schools in Ontario. If you try to sell a school, there is a framework, takes about three years to sell a school. You’ve got to prove that you can’t sell it to another school first. This helps dampen the valuations. And Natalie mentioned Altis. I end up calling all tests and say, what the hell are you people doing? Why are you giving these valuations to churches? Because every time they see them, they get stars in their eyes and nobody can focus on anything else. It turns out there was an old school friend of mine who’s now in charge of that, so I was really able to kind of say, come on, let’s deal with this. And I think they do want to play ball. And they’re very intelligent, by the way, at Altis and I’m really hopeful that they might get it. But schools in Ontario, there’s a simple framework for a category of social purpose real estate in a particular jurisdiction, I’d love to see that for faith properties, right? Second one, City of Westmount, little part of Montreal they rezoned every church. They did a study on 14 churches, heritage churches. They rezoned them all. They created a new category called church. And guess what you get to do in a church owned property? Nothing. You have to go to the council and prove you’ve got something interesting to do and they ended up freezing out a couple of developers who weren’t like Natalie.

 

Mary Rowe [00:53:07] I mean, this is one of the concerns that I’ve got is that if we will lose these spaces to commercial purpose and they’ll lose the civic value, right? I don’t want to suggest that every commercial purpose is not civic because there are lots of companies that are. But the question is, can you hold these spaces for civic purpose, I guess?

 

Graham Singh [00:53:25] Well, and that may be another question on there. But in this particular case, the idea of other uses, other than particularly civic, they were open to a whole bunch of different things, could be micro retail or other things that they could, you know, they would respond to, which I would suggest are satisfactory ways of dealing with some of those spaces if they can prove it. But it’s the right way of doing it. That’s all I’m saying. And the third one is just to give you hope. We got a call seven weeks into the pandemic from one of Canada’s largest pension funds and they said, we heard what you’re doing with this kind of stuff. And our money in question was, what the hell are you doing? Calling us about churches in the middle of the pandemic? And in the end, they’d seen some of these things and they realized one of the things with some of our green spaces, some of our heritage buildings, certainly with heritage churches, one of the exciting things is there are people who own these things today and the investment funds that are looking at this saying, actually, we are not interested in helping you acquire this site, but if you own it already, there’s a different set of options that are open to you. And we’ve started looking at what might be considered a rete type, real estate investment trust type instrument for these kinds of works. The problem is we still get magnetized on condo development. It’s like, you know, you still look at the numbers you like, OK, you can buy this church. Why don’t you let this go? That’s the whole point. We don’t want to do that. They’re calling is really interesting.

 

Mary Rowe [00:54:40] Yeah. I mean, this is part of the tension and which I reflected even in my comment, Acquaro, about have you been under pressure to put housing into the parks that we certainly hear that here all the time. Are we increasing density, are increasing housing? Tim, people are asking on the chat for a link to the World Cultural Forum. Can you pop that in if you have a second so people can know here can you top that? And if you have a second so people will know where they can find that out, or we can suggest that in the transcript we can include it. In the last five minutes that we’ve got, gang, if you were to talk to the people that are watching and about the focus, the priority that you think their eyes should be on over the next couple of months as we continue to stumble our way through Covid, in terms of affirming the value of these civic shared spaces, what advice do you have to people about what they should double down and focus on? Carol, first to you.

 

Carol Coletta [00:55:30] Make the political case. Simple as that.

 

Mary Rowe [00:55:34] Yeah. I mean, you know, the dilemma we’ve got here is we have cities that are shedding money like crazy. So, Calgary just cut their budget by nine hundred million dollars. I’m interested about the political case at what level would you suggest or is it all three?

 

Carol Coletta [00:55:51] I think it’s all three. I think it has to be. And again, part of it Mary Rowe feels to me like, you know, how do we define terms? How do we define what’s important and what do these civic spaces deliver? I mean, is it about Artscape or is it about wellness, is it about value created in the surrounding neighborhoods? Is it about housing? What is it? You know, it’s Artscape plus and it’s parks plus. And I don’t think we’ve been as aggressive as we should be or must be to make the case for these spaces.

 

Mary Rowe [00:56:37] I mean, it’s interesting when you say make a case for the place, make the case for the place. There you go. Because it through the pandemic, surely to goodness we’ve had it repeated and put in front of our eyes how important these places are, whether it’s a library or a park or a place, a respite place. OK, so Tim, what would the one thing be that you think people should be focusing on over the next five, six months as we survive here?

 

Tim Jones [00:57:01] I think there’s a very important effort at triaging our existing kind of civic common spaces. We’ve seen music venues all around the world closing like crazy. We’ve got arts and cultural facilities that are super at risk, coworking spaces, all of these places that were informal, I think many of them who aren’t backed by an institution or have an institution like a church or something like that I think are seriously at risk. And I think we’re not seeing it as the extent of that as much as we’re going to see it in the months to come. And there’s going to have to be strategies way beyond in Canada, what the government has done so far to kind of salvage some of these spaces for the future.

 

Mary Rowe [00:57:57] Yeah, I mean, triaging venues, I hear you. We’re hearing that too. Live music spaces, live theater spaces, all in particular are not for profit, were all in huge jeopardy. OK, Graham, one thing that using people should focus on over the next four months, five months.

 

Graham Singh [00:58:11] We’ve got to push the tax limitations to their limits and break them and force the government at all three levels in Canada to fix them right. And when you hear what Natalie just said, that’s the kind of stuff we got to fix. Tax.

 

Mary Rowe [00:58:26] Tax. Natalie, last word to you.

 

Natalie Voland [00:58:29] Change the business model.

 

Mary Rowe [00:58:30] Say it again.

 

Natalie Voland [00:58:30] Change the business model. Make it profitable to be good for the community, because actually real estate projects are worth more when they’re near parks and near schools. So, try to change the discussion and show that return on investment is actually investment in your community, you actually make more money so that more people in the private world will actually change how they look at their business model.

 

Mary Rowe [00:58:57] I wish for this topic, you know, that it weren’t so complicated. I just am so aware of each of you and your vantage points and what you’ve just suggested. Those four things; make the case for the place, triage spaces and places so that they survive, pushing the tax limitations, and then changing the business model. It takes people like you for people who are so active, engaged in placemaking in your communities on the ground to provide these models and push these discussions. So, thank you very, very much, Carol, Tim, Graham and Natalie for being part of a City Talk. And now we’ll mobilize lots of people who will be listening, who will try to do these things, as you’re suggesting, and probably engage in doing them now. And more and more people will come back to citytalk.ca and to listen again to your presentations. These things live on. So, the conversation never finishes here, folks. It continues at #citytalk. Please continue and revisit, come back to the site and learn more. And really great to see my old colleagues and friends, not so old, my of many years colleagues and friends and really important to have these conversations. You inspire me and I know I will say that to the audience. I know how hard that would be. So really, thanks for joining us, folks. Have a good day.

 

 

 

Full Audience
Chatroom Transcript

Note to reader: Chat comments have been edited for ease of readability. The text has not been edited for spelling or grammar. For questions or concerns, please contact events@canurb.org with “Chat Comments” in the subject lin

From Canadian Urban Institute: You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our webinars at https://canurb.org/citytalk

12:01:14 From Canadian Urban Institute : Welcome! Folks, please change your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees” so everyone can see your comments.

12:03:27 From Graham Singh to Jean-Marc Mangin and all panelists : Good to see you J-M!

12:03:35 From Graham Singh to Tim Schaner and all panelists : Good to see you Tim!

12:03:40 From Canadian Urban Institute : You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk

12:04:13 From Canadian Urban Institute :

Graham Singh @revgrahamsingh https://www.linkedin.com/in/revgrahamsingh

Carol Coletta @ccoletta https://www.linkedin.com/in/carol-coletta-1184/

Natalie Voland @GIQuoVadis https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalievoland

Tim Jones @timjones0001 https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-jones-8ba9b11a0

12:11:42 From Mary W Rowe : hi folks – where are you ll listening in from?

12:12:03 From Jessi-anne Reeves : Victoria, BC!

12:12:04 From Michael Diplock : Toronto!

12:12:09 From Kevin Cooper to All panelists : Halifax, Nova Scotia!

12:12:09 From Katherine Pigott to All panelists : Kitchener Ontario

12:12:15 From Christina Sisson to All panelists : City of Kawartha Lakes

12:12:18 From David Zambrano : Toronto as well

12:12:19 From Celeste Kitsemetry to All panelists : Barrie, ON 🙂

12:12:20 From Eunan Quinn : Donegal, Ireland

12:12:21 From Stacey Gray-McQuat to All panelists : Oshawa, Ontario

12:12:38 From Canadian Urban Institute : We love your comments and questions in the chat! Share them with everyone by changing your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees”. Thanks!

12:12:38 From Toby Greenbaum : Ottawa

12:12:54 From Jolene Holland to All panelists : Austin, Texas 🙂

12:12:55 From Katherine Cash to All panelists : Toronto

12:13:00 From Giulio Bruno to All panelists : toronto

12:13:20 From Maureen Luoma : Hi from Downtown Sudbury, Ontario

12:13:31 From Robert Pajot : Hi from Ottawa.

12:15:58 From Tim Schaner : Kitchener, Ontario

12:20:05 From Andrew Martschenko : Toronto.

12:20:57 From Mark Guslits : Tim has made Artscape the amazing place that it’s become. An extremely important asset both within the Arts community and the broader working “poor” community in the GTA. Community outreach and involvement has become a key to Artscape’s mandate

12:21:18 From Natalie Voland : Agee Tim and ArtScape are amazing!!!!!!!!!!!

12:22:01 From Carol Coletta to All panelists : Agree. What a treasure he is and model he has created.

12:22:24 From Chris Fraser to All panelists : Right from his days building Artscape in Liberty Village, Tim Jones has always been an incredibly compassionate leader – who really has helped Toronto’s creative sector succeed and maintain sustainability. Amazing contribution.

12:23:39 From Ralph Cipolla : Ralph cipolla

12:23:41 From Canadian Urban Institute to Chris Fraser and all panelists : Hi Chris. We love your comments and questions in the chat. Please share them with everyone by changing your chat settings to “all panelists and attendees”. Thanks!

12:23:47 From Mark Guslits : I was there for the Jane/Richard battle of the minds. Awesome and scary all at the same time.

12:24:16 From Carol Coletta to All panelists : I dpm

12:24:34 From Toby Greenbaum : where does artscape get its funding?

12:24:38 From Ralph Cipolla : Ralph cipolla Orillia ontario

12:25:24 From Mary W Rowe to Mark Guslits and all panelists : 🙂

12:27:29 From Mark Guslits : Artscape gets some money under various government programs, but largely depends on fund raising programs which have been generally successful over the years. Unfortunately, Covid has hit revenues very hard and funding will be an ongoing issue from this point onward. All organizations such as this will be hurting these days. It ain’t easy … this pandemic shit.

12:39:31 From Canadian Urban Institute : Keep the conversation going #citytalk @canurb

12:40:09 From Jean-Marc Mangin : Carol @ « philanthropy won’t save us all » . Philanthropy has a role to play but can not replace governments and the private sector to support the public goods, especially a dynamic supportive policy friendly ecosystem. Philanthropy can help in opening doors, connecting and supporting pilot initiatives through programs and investments..

12:40:27 From Christina Sisson : We need purposeful buildings and development that take into account all of our human needs – housing, food, water, environment, and recreation/escape.

12:42:10 From Carol Coletta : Jean-Marc, agree with you on the role of Philanthropy. Can be pivotal, particularly in early stages.

12:44:16 From Carol Coletta : Plus assembling impact capital can take forever.

12:45:49 From Graham Singh : I made exactly the point Mary just mentioned, in Municipal World last year: https://www.cardus.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Updating-the-Social-Contract_Municipal_World_2019.pdf

12:49:38 From Oriana Nanoa to All panelists : Is there a link for the initiative that Tim just mentioned?

12:53:55 From Chris Fraser : Great point about coalitions coming together to supplement government’s success. I believe that with binary political systems in both Canada and the US – we need these citizen coalitions/innovators/entrepreneurs right now to build the visions and success of these civic commons. Politics involves too much talk and not a lot of action

12:54:39 From Canadian Urban Institute to Oriana Nanoa and all panelists : Hi Oriana. We will be sharing transcripts along with resources from today’s discussion on our website https://www.canurb.org/citytalk

12:56:07 From Canadian Urban Institute : You can find transcripts and recordings of today’s and all our sessions at https://www.canurb.org/citytalk

12:57:04 From Tim Jones to Canadian Urban Institute(Privately) : worldcitiescultureforum.com

12:58:12 From Canadian Urban Institute : To support CityTalk and the Canadian Urban Institute’s other city building initiatives, please donate at www.canurb.org/donate. What did you think of today’s conversation? Help us improve our programming with a short post-webinar survey – https://bit.ly/2UdftiO

12:59:27 From Tim Jones : worldcitiescultureforum.com

12:59:37 From Oriana Nanoa to All panelists : Thank you!

13:00:18 From Andrew Martschenko : Politicians have to be convinced to raise the bar – to ask more of developers, and to teach them that “it is profitable to be good to the community”. It is at the approvals to hold that bar to move this forward.

13:00:23 From Toby Greenbaum : great session. thank you!

13:00:26 From Eunan Quinn : Many thanks for a great discussion.

13:00:40 From Katherine Cash : Fantastic talk! Thanks so much!