CityTalk | Live: Highlights from the State of Canada’s Cities Summit and Report 2023 – What’s Working, What’s Not and What’s Next?

5 Key

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

1. Including more diversity: Reflect what Canada looks like  

Patti Pon, President and CEO of Calgary Arts Development, says, “Canada’s greatest gift is our ability to live together and have so many different identities” and it is time to reflect that in our work and our future meetings and conferences. This includes people of diverse ethnic backgrounds but also of different professional backgrounds such as having more creatives, designers, and artists part of the conversation. Jeb Brugmann, Founding Principal of Resilient Cities Catalyst, adds to that conversation that we don’t hear enough from Quebec and while there are efforts to create inclusive spaces, we still are talking in silos. Jeb says that just inviting people to events is not enough. There has to be a different operating model to get people past the potential barriers stopping them from participating.  

2. Take a risk: Look at the Indigenous models  

There is a lot to be learned from Indigenous communities across the country, and it is time to start not only listening, but also collaborating with indigenous groups as well as creating space and learning from Indigenous-led and Indigenous-centered work. In the context of housing, there are challenges of inadequate supply in the country. Donnie Rosa, Executive director of Ḵ’iyáx̱an Ch’áwch’aw, describes how indigenous models of housing are rapid and built with a climate lens. They also encourage the idea of a colonial audit to understand how to approach reconciliation and collaborative work. Through this type of work, we are able to recognize the pivotal role of grassroots initiatives in driving real change and we can ensure that decision-making aligns with local community efforts.  

3. An all-levels of government and cross-sectoral collaboration  

We need mobilization at all levels of government. Jeb thinks that “there is no reason that there can’t be a federal, local, regional government conversation about critical national strategies.” This refers to collaboration between private and public. We should seek innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors to address challenges like housing, climate change or economic development without compromising public interest. In order for this to work well, Fanny Tremblay-Racicot, Associate Professor at the École Nationale d’Administration Publique, comments that communities need to know their own powers to know what they can ask of their partners and of municipalities, and municipalities need to know what to ask of provincial leaders. 


4. A national and creative economic development plan 

Canada is in need of a national economic development plan, and one that Patti argues, involves more creative thinking. She uses the example that, within Alberta, $1,000,000 into the energy sector will create two jobs; $1,000,000 into the arts sector will create 20. Imagine that type of collaboration. These are wicked programs that need systemic changes and risk taking. Patti urges that “there are people among you in your own communities who can help you look at the world in a different way” and they can create “small experiments with radical change.” Donnie agrees and recommends that we need to move away from the “either/or” idea to more of “both/and” type of thinking when it comes to trying to solve our challenges. It is possible to do both and more.  

5. Thinking of cities as places of empathy  

Panelists empathize the transformative power of urban empathy, framing cities as acts of empathy. Patti underscores the need for a mindset change, advocating for a shift from merely stating “we don’t have enough of this and we don’t have enough of that” to fostering genuine feelings for one another at the local level. There is a need highlight the importance of cities embodying generosity and empathy to avoid pitfalls. Donnie adds that the real activity is happening at the grassroot and the local level and comments: “what I’m hoping is that while the action is happening at the grassroots roots level, the decisions need to start to be connected to that versus happening in a silo over in the, as they call it, the ivory tower.” 

Full Panel

Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software.  Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to with “transcription” in the subject line.

Mary W Rowe Hi, everybody, it’s Mary Rowe from the Canadian Urban Institute. Delighted to be meeting you on this, what I call “un jour gris”, a gray day where … I happened to be in Toronto today. And we talked to our folks across the country just a minute ago, we did the sound check, and they’re all saying “it’s kind of gray across the country today, interestingly.” We always acknowledge that this is a conversation of relevance not only to people that live here now, but to the ancestors who preceded us, that this is … We all live in ceded or Unceded lands from First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. And we had an extraordinary event on the 30th of November in Ottawa with people online watching across the country and where we had representation from Indigenous communities, but also people tuning in from hundreds and hundreds of different places. And how important that conversation is to be having about the quality of the place where you live and where you work and where you find fulfillment and meaning in your life. And I just want to acknowledge, as I suggested, the obligation we have to our ancestors, but also how we continue on the path of truth and reconciliation and what that looks like for us as people that happen to live in Canada. I also just want to remind us all that and we take a moment here to acknowledge that the world is at war, this is putting extraordinary pressure on people working, living and working in communities that they may have attachments to for their whole lives or their family’s lives for generations. How painful this is and how precarious the time it is for us in the global community. And how do we be empathic and alive to the truth and justice challenges that exist across the world? And how do we find ourselves in that? So with that as a context, I want to welcome you to CityTalk and thanks for identifying yourselves in the chat. We have always had very lively chats on CityTalk, and I want to just acknowledge right off the bat that when we did the November 30th event, we branded as the CityTalk, brought people on from across the country who couldn’t be in Ottawa, but we weren’t able to have as active an engagement with the chat because I kind of had my hands full with people in the room and da-da-da … So now’s your chance online audience, if you’ve got questions, concerns, comments of what you saw or what you listened to on the 30th and you want to revisit it, or if you were in the room, if you’re one of those lucky people who was in the nation’s capital looking at that extraordinary view that we had behind the podium, which showed us the edge of the Parliament buildings and the Rideau Canal, and as the sun came down, it was quite something. If you’ve got things that didn’t get dealt with there and you want to pick them back up or you want to ask questions, we’ve got a very brave group of four here, who were there, who were on the podium and had a chance to cover their favorite topics. And they’re going to give you sort of an impression about what we you know, we tend to call these things what’s working, what’s not, what’s next. And so we’re going to do our version of that in terms of what did you hear on the 30th November that you took away that were really interesting to you and that you think we should be paying attention to? What did you not hear? What was missing from the conversation and/or who was missing from the conversation? And what do you think you want to add? And then the third thing, obviously, we’ll talk as a group about, well, what should our priorities be going forward for 2024? And I’ll just put a shameless plug in for this monster document which we released. At the same time, it’s in English and French, and with another set of … I think we had 44 people on the program on the 30th, and then we had another 40 plus that … some overlap. But lots of folks who just wrote something for here and I always try to emphasize that CUI’s in the provocation business. You know, there’s no one … Look at that. Look at this. My mother, it’s a good job she’s dead, she would not be happy to know that I came to work with a hole in my elbow. You know … There’s no single answer for any of this. And I think that’s part of the conversation that we had on the 30th. And it’s part of what we raise here is that we need a robust discourse in this country about addressing challenges that are facing people in their lives, in their communities, where they live and where they work, and how do we collectively arrive at good solutions. So welcome to CityTalk. Fanny, I’m going to start with you and I appreciate you’re working in your second language. So thank you for speaking in English. We don’t have simultaneous translation, lamentably. But you just told me that you spent years in Philadelphia. So give us your best shot in your Philadelphia English. About what were the takeaways that you … what have you been thinking about since and what wasn’t covered? Anyway, you start it off and then I’ll we’ll go across the country after we hear from you. Thanks for joining us.


Fanny Tremblay-Racicot Thank you for the invitation. Hello everyone, it’s really a pleasure for me to be here and to share my thoughts on this day. Thank you for putting it together. It was a great event. So many people, so many things were discussed. I think the main challenge that was raised up from the day was the housing crisis. It came up in almost every session. And there are two sub-problems, sub-questions, like supply and demand and a lot of solutions came up for addressing housing supply, up-zoning, expropriation for transit-oriented development in Vancouver. There is a lot of innovation all across Canada coming from grassroots organizations, coming from municipalities, coming from the provincial government and coming also like this week from the federal government. So I think like the stars are aligned for the … Too late probably because we’re in a crisis. But like in terms of intergovernmental relations and coordination, like we’re getting somewhere. And then the question is, what about the demand? And the demand is increasing and people don’t have the means to access, like housing, property or rental or. And that’s another set of questions and links up to economic development, like how we share growth and the wealth in our country. And like that question wasn’t addressed. It was more of a supply issue than a demand issue. And so I think the housing part is really important. And another thing I would like to highlight is the fiscal imbalance between the level of government, the fact that municipalities need to increase their revenue sources, their revenue streams, new revenue streams. In Quebec, we have a lot of innovation in terms of municipal taxation. So I can speak on that a little bit later. So those are my two takeaways. And in terms of economic development, what’s the economic development strategy at the federal level compared to the U.S.? It was brought up by Bruce Katz. I think the future relies on the extraction of critical minerals, but no one is talking about it. Certainly in Quebec, I think there’s going to be an increased demand for critical minerals for the energy transition. But like how? With whom? How much? If we don’t have this. Okay, fine. We need to like secure this. And if there is like, a homeland security issue or whatever. Like it’s a global issue. But if we agree that we need to extract some of it somehow, is it really going to decrease greenhouse gas emissions? And I think it raises a lot more questions once we acknowledge that we need to do it a little bit, you know, So those are my three take-aways.


Mary W Rowe Housing, fiscal balance and the economic development strategy. Thanks Fanny. And, you know, one of the things I thought about I’m going to come to you, Donnie, next. One of the things that I thought about was, um, and this to me was mission accomplished is that we were having a conversation about Canada, the future of the country. In the urban environment. In other words, it wasn’t just a conversation about cities and this challenge and this city, and it was somehow that’s what we were hoping for, is to have a bigger conversation about the future of the country. And then how is that manifesting in cities? And so the point you made about economic development, we’re getting lots of people who are saying “what the … what’s the …”


Fanny Tremblay-Racicot Vision …


Mary W Rowe What’s the vision and how do we fit in? And I so I appreciate that. And a housing piece, as you say, I, I always worry that when we finally align and we finally decide that this is something we all need, is it too late? You know, and is that there and we missed you know what I mean? Anyway, I wrestled with that but we’ll come back to all three of the things you’ve mentioned, Donnie. You throw in your additions about what the takeaways were for you there.


Donnie Rosa Thanks, Mary. It’s great to be here. I’m joining from the Unceded territories of the Musqueam Tsleil-Waututh peoples, and while I work for Squamish Nation, I don’t speak on behalf of any Indigenous peoples and I don’t necessarily always speak on behalf of the Nations. I speak on behalf of my experience, 30 years in municipal government and, a lot in parks and recreation and then also working for First Nations government now. What a great day it was. First of all, Fanny, I agree with all of your points, fabulous points. I think in terms of housing, I think we need to be looking at Indigenous models. We need to be looking at models like Sanok, where it was a partnership and certainly developing and delivering quickly. They have the ability to deliver housing quickly with some investment in that area. It’s been demonstrated. They also have the ability to deliver with a climate lens and I think that’s another area that I think is really important that we need to be talking about. And I did hear it, but Indigenous knowledge is with respect to leading climate action, not just with respect to listening to, but leading climate action, What I heard that I was so excited about was a number of city managers, city manager from Toronto said this, you know, Zita Cobb said this, the real activity is happening and it’s happening at the grassroots, at the local community level. And I think that, I know that I’ve heard that for years and years. And now to hear leaders saying that in the way they’re saying it, what I’m hoping is that while the action is happening at the grassroots roots level, the decisions need to start to be connected to that versus happening in a silo over in the, as they call it, the ivory tower. And then the last thing I’ll say is that it came loud and clear not only that municipalities are underfunded, but that maybe more solutions need to be sought in partnership with the private public discourse. And, you know, there’s opportunity where you don’t have to sell your soul to work with private if you’re … you know, I’m thinking about, you know, not necessarily needing to sell parkland to build houses. We can do both. It’s not an and/or and how do we bridge that relationship?


Mary W Rowe You know that both/and thinking right – that we somehow need to move away from either/or. win/lose zero/sum. It’s got to somehow be that our partners at ICLEI actually, Jed is the founder of ICLEI. So hats off to you, Jeb, your successors … at ICLEI Canada, maybe you coined this term and I should be crediting you Jed but multi-solving, the idea that you never do one thing that only delivers one benefit. You got to do things that deliver multiple benefits. And I think that’s part of that challenge with the housing piece. If we just solve housing and we don’t build communities that have other amenities, then we’re sunk. So anyway, we’ll come back to that. But this idea of connecting. I’ve heard it referred to  ….you connect the grassroots, is it with the grass tops? But this idea that we don’t have that connective tissue very well, about this works on the ground, here’s a national policy that you can see that in terms of how we’re dealing with refugees, for instance, at the moment you’ve got a big … We didn’t talk about that last week in the way we might have. And you’ve got this big national policy bringing lots of people in. But are we actually providing the necessary supports for them when they get here?


Donnie Rosa And Mary, if I could just speak to that. It would be great if politicians listened to community more than once every four years.


Mary W Rowe That’s a good sound bite. I’m sure someone’s going to “X” that out – tweet, whatever. It would be good  if politicians listen the community more than every four years. Okay, Patti, your next. And then we’ll go to Jeb. Go for it.


Patti Pon Hi. Thanks very much. [Introduction] And my name is Patti Pon. I’m coming to you today from Mohk’insstsis, which is in the Treaty Seven territory, the home of the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Tsuut’ina, Stoney Nakoda  and the Otos-kwunee people, the Métis Nation and their new government that they’ve elected very recently. I think to Donnie’s point … The conversation was awesome. And so I just, I do want to say creating that gathering was a wonderful opportunity. I think, I heard from lots of people. It was so great to be in the room. This is the group of people that can help to make a difference and then sharing all of those common threads that you’ve heard from Fanny and Donnie so far. For me, I think what I walked away with was an increased dedication, and I state my bias clearly, we have to include more creative thinking in how to solve some of these super, super wicked problems and to talk about creativity. It’s not something that if you didn’t get born with that DNA, you are SOL. It’s something that the more you do, the better you get at it, right? You know, there’s that whole joke about two guys in the street corner in New York and one asks, How do you get to Carnegie Hall? And the other guy says, Practice, practice, practice. And that’s right. The muscle – and artists practice that muscle every day. And you have to include creative in this conversation. These issues that we’re talking about are no longer something you can do on the edge of your desk. These are systemic changes. It means risk. It means taking a chance on stuff. It means completely throwing away your assumptions and coming up with new answers. And there are people among you in your own communities who can help you look at the world in a different way. And when I think about the gathering, and Mary and your team, I credit  you for what I call small experiments with radical intent.


Mary W Rowe It’s a nice phrase. Say it again.


Patti Pon Small experiments with radical intent. [Love it] And so there is a rigor to it, which is you got to come up with the hypothesis and the conditions. And all of our science friends can help us with that, you know, predict outcomes. And then you do the experiment and you see what happens and you scale up. So for me, I consider Calgary, which is my home, Mohk’insstsis, a living lab. And the lab we do is how do we include creatives in these conversations. And by the way, for our economic development friends, in Alberta, $1,000,000 into the energy sector will create two jobs. $1,000,000 into the arts sector will create 20. Wow. So imagine if you had 20 creatives around your tables to talk about what the possibilities are around affordable housing.


Patti Pon And how they might think about different ways to create vibrancy. We all know, shove artists into a neighborhood that’s rundown, really cheap. They’ll move in, they’ll create vibrancy, and then they get priced out of the market. We can’t do that anymore. We have to think about how mixed communities start right from the beginning. And I think the final thing I’ll just say here is one of my observations, and Jeb was our moderator, and I was very grateful to him for leading our conversation. What I saw in Ottawa is not what I see in Canada and certainly not who I see in my community, in my city as Canada’s third most diverse city in Calgary. I know some of you may find that hard to believe. Our panels – the 44 members, did not look like Canada in the way that I see Canada, that I want to see Canada. And I think if we don’t continue, if we don’t intentionally, for those of us who have power and privilege, if we don’t intentionally include the voices that have not been included before, I don’t think there were enough people with lived experience, when you talk about housing, when you talk about poverty, when you talk about health care concerns, there weren’t enough people in the room for that. And we need to hear that. And then for those of us who maybe don’t have that lived experience, we’ve got to figure out a way to hear it and not just, not see that. Canada’s greatest gift that I think we will give to the world is our ability to live together and have so many different identities, so many different ways that we walk in this world. And we have to figure out a way to share that gift with each other and then with the rest of the world. I’ll end on that.


Mary W Rowe You know, and these comments you’re making, not just about that convening, but as you say, that convening is an illustration of how we all work and so I hear that very directly in terms of CUI and its role as convener and connector is that we just have to get better at this. And the idea, the notion of lived experience, another piece that I would say that we didn’t do as well as we could is that if you’re going to, if you’re all going to congregate in Ottawa, then you need to get out and see Ottawa. And, you know, should we be having some site tours? Should we be having some opportunities for people to get into Gatineau, to be able to talk to the community locally there? So some kind of concrete experience and also a cultural event or two or ten. So all of that to say how do you make it a more holistic experience, just that piece, but that I totally hear you about. And it’s a dilemma because we all just tend to default to who we know. And as you suggest, we all need to know different people from who we know. And actually you folks are all in varying degrees in the public space business, the creative business. And that’s part of how you meet people that you don’t know is through those kinds of shared experience in the city. So totally appreciate that. The comment about creatives we need creatives the problems solve, Oh my God, Patti, I see someone’s put into the chat, yours and my podcast where you go into this in more detail. Yeah, I’m with you on that. In my various roles that I’d had before I took this job, it was very hard to convince decision makers that artists are about more than creating art.


Patti Pon That’s right. Yeah …


Mary W Rowe It’s crazy. Go ahead.


Patti Pon No, I was just going to say we need artists now more than ever. They are our storytellers, they’re our meaning makers. And, you know, in this time where nothing makes sense, we need those people who can filter and look at the world through a different set of lenses and help us connect to things that you’re like, How did we ever get here? And not make you feel bad about it, right? Like, that’s the other thing that’s beautiful. Even if you go to a provocative show inside a theater, it’s still a safe space for you to have those feelings, to have that conflict. And then process it with the other, however many people are in the room with you at that time experiencing it. So these are places where I think we can bring citizens together and not have the stakes so high that it’s either/or. You’re either for us or against us. And we need that. We need to be reminded that we actually have those muscles that we can we can hone to get better at that.


Mary W Rowe I mean, and just as you say, an artistic sensibility, it’s a bit like … I shouldn’t say, they’re not equivalent, but there’s also the agrarian sensibility.


Patti Pon Oh, absolutely.


Mary W Rowe That work in natural landscapes and who know how gardens work or know how agriculture works. They have a particular … they can see the whole, and I think that’s one of the great challenges. Jeb I’m sure you can talk about this because you’ve been in the business your whole career and it’s all about seeing the holes. So why don’t I come to you next and then we’ll put your mics on and we can start the collective part. Go ahead, Jeb.


Jeb Brugmann Thank you. It’s lovely to see you all again. I just want to pick up where Patti left off, and like everyone else there to just say it was an amazing event. Mary. Kudos to you and your team. I don’t know how … The logistics of doing something like that are quite enormous. And I know you pulled it together quickly and that your whole mission as a professional and modus operandi in your career has been to sort of work this inclusive, this thing. And I think we did have a more inclusive event than has historically been the case. But it did end up representing as this still quite isolated community that thinks about cities and things like that. So …. I pick up on – you’re echoing it, Mary – but particularly you articulate it well, Patti, that it’s going to take a different kind of modus operandi than inviting people to the event, because there’s all kinds of reasons that people aren’t … their lives, particularly their urban poor communities of a variety of kinds, new, new Canadians and long settled black communities and obviously Indigenous communities as well. I think when I work in the developing world on urban stuff, there are organizations that make sure slum dwellers show up, Slum Dwellers International and make sure Cape Town and there’s always the Slum Dwellers International delegation in the city of Cape Town conversation. So I think we’re going to need to you know, we – know I’m putting a “we” to it, but for next year’s event, really think about how constituencies are engaged early and brought into the conversation. And final comment on that is.


Jeb Brugmann I also came away feeling like I didn’t hear enough from Quebec. It’s a very distinct society that does really interesting things. And I think as an Anglophone Canadian, we heard quite a lot about really cool stuff happening in British Columbia, for instance, but I don’t think we got enough of Quebec in the conversation as well. If I may say, and thank you, Fanny, for being there to bring some of it to the table. My takeaway is throughout the whole day, I mean, you know, one of the other issues I agree, housing, thankfully, just kept coming up and up and up again and from various angles in the conversation. But we kept it as the traditional conversation around cities is we’ve got structural issues related to our constitutional arrangements. And no, we’re not going to talk about constitutional reform. Yeah, good, good. We didn’t get into all that again, but it left me thinking throughout the day about constitutional workarounds and some of the things that were said were basically like, “Here’s how we work around it”. And so today I just wanted to highlight a few things. Two of them in particular, I think did come up in the conversation, one that we might emphasize more in the future. It particularly came up in the context of Bruce Katz, is that panel he was on. And Fanny, you were on the same panel with Bruce where you’re not, no, but it came up on your panel as well about the lack of a national sort of industrial economic development strategy. And it brought to my mind very much so that there’s no reason that there can’t be a federal, local, regional government conversation about critical national strategies. And I noticed our friend and colleague Dina Graser’s is on the line. It would be really interesting to hear from Dina, who oversaw the National Housing strategy, to really ask how much was local regional government directly involved in that strategy process and what can we take away from that when we think about a national industrial strategy? Clearly on climate strategy, there’s some conversation, but there’s still always a divergence and anon an ineffective strategy implementation in that regard. I don’t know. It didn’t come up very much. Is there local regional government, federal conversation happening effectively around strategy, around immigration and settlement? This is a decades old issue that comes up in our constitutional framework. As we all know, immigration driven by the feds. And then the city’s got to deal with that three or four cities get to deal with the bulk of what that means for the rest of the country. Is there a strategy around Charter of Rights and Freedoms implementation where there’s any number of issues in our cities that are really fundamentally kind of charter issues that’s come up in the last decade more around policing and police behavior, for instance? But is there a strategy around those things? So there’s nothing constitutionally that doesn’t … gets in the way of the Feds engaging directly with local government and sort of bigger picture strategy and the housing strategy. Dina, if you’re still with us, that would be interesting here from. The second one is around and Fanny, you picked up on it on the on the fiscal relationship between the provincial governments and local governments. There’s nothing constitutionally. And in fact, there’s some neat stuff happening around the provinces really working to strengthen municipal fiscal authority and powers and access to private capital markets, the impediments to municipal debt finance in the country, or, if I may say, absolutely ridiculous to the south. You know, we had some folks from the United States. The municipal bond market in the United States is such an empowering tool. The lack of utilization of land value capture as a mechanism, particularly in a time of land speculation and financialization of housing, is just a fundamental failure in the conversation that can easily be had between the provincial governments and the local governments. So I thought that theme was on the table. And for me, because I worked very much on how are we going to finance climate adaptation? That’s a conversation we need to have because we need new revenue sources to finance something that doesn’t have a cash financial return to it, and there’s billions of dollars needed there. The thing that didn’t come up enough, and this is my last point, is how local regional governments work together across the country to shape the markets they need for the type of housing production that’s required or for the type of other investments that we need in our cities for dealing with the infrastructure gap. Insufficient conversation about how we leverage collective market power to get industry behaving in their interest, addressing the needs of our cities that are so pronounced and similar across the country. And there are examples of how cities have done that. There’s been collective procurement across the country in the past by groups and municipalities. The development of the green building as a whole industry, as a subsector of the building industry, came out of municipal collaborative setting of standards for building, for public buildings. So I think there’s more we could do there in the future. But anyway, those are three kind of categories of working around the constitutional problems and just getting on with the work that we can do. Thanks.


Mary W Rowe You’ve raised some big stuff there. Let’s put everybody on the … Let’s have everybody on the screen and everybody open your mic and we’ll just have some open chat. You know, I … The business about more Quebec. We got that from others Fanny, too, that they wanted to hear more from Quebec, who’s working in Quebec cities and Quebec environments and we had you in Maxime and it’s you know lots of parts of the country envy the attention that municipalities in Quebec get from the province of Quebec. You probably don’t even … you guys just operate and don’t think about it. But the rest of us look quite … If you look in Quebec City, Laval, maybe not so much Gatineau, but Montreal, you can see the commitment that the government of Quebec has made to their cities. So do you have further thoughts in terms of what Jeb’s suggesting about how do we stitch together a stronger narrative between what’s happening in cities and in the province?


Fanny Tremblay-Racicot Absolutely. I think the municipalities across Canada need to know what to ask for from their respective provinces. And for that we need to share what are the possibilities in different municipalities from different provinces, because we can do things here in Quebec now, but like land value capture, you can do it in Alberta, in Manitoba. We cannot do it here. And our Minister of Municipal Affairs is interested in that. So I think we need to share the – what’s possible, what to ask for from the provinces and then what can the federal government do? Like, okay, we want you want to Maxime, you want to open the Constitution. Why? What would you do with it? For what? Because like … What can the federal government do? And that’s the question. And can he do it without modifying the Constitution?


Mary W Rowe And yeah, and without stepping on the provincial jurisdiction. And so that’s the two-edged sword for you in Quebec, because the provincial government in Quebec has been quite deliberate in in influencing how federal money is spent in Quebec. And we’re hearing Alberta Patti, it’s coming your way to where your premier is saying that they want to do the same thing. I feel like during my tenure here at CUI, we’ve strengthened the relationship of people in … And remember, we’re not just about municipal government here. We’re about all of us, all the different sectors that throw themselves into urban life. But we’ve been good at strengthening the relationships between them and then between them and the feds. But we’re not as engaged as I think we need to be about where do the provinces fit. And I wasn’t surprised to hear the Minister of Housing and infrastructure, you know, that he got pushback from the Premier’s conference two weeks ago about why the housing accelerated fund deals were being cut directly with municipalities. And yet we know that we want to have a direct problem-solving relationship. We have people on the ground and people who are holding a lot of the money. Right.


Fanny Tremblay-Racicot Yeah. I think you shouldn’t take example from the Quebec government with M30 like I don’t think it’s good for anyone. And I think we’re losing as a nation, Quebec …. If you want to stay in Canada, then accept the money from the federal government. If you don’t want to accept it, just separate. Like pick one.


Mary W Rowe Listen Fanny, from your lips to God’s ears. I want to see whether or not you have more dinner dates tonight after having said that. But, you know, this is part of the, we have these kinds of granular struggles, we have in in the north, too. We have it in different parts of the country where you have to navigate your relationships. And I, I guess the solution for us has been let’s focus on local challenges and figure out who’s the best equipped to help address them. So, Jeb, to follow up with what you’ve just suggested and where Fanny was going there like just solve it. And what is the role of large international conventions? Liz McIsaac was in the on the program talking about human rights approach to cities. We know that there’s a U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We’re watching COP kind of, I was going to say implode, I don’t know how you would describe it. It’s … Something is happening that’s going to have an impact on us. What do you think? How important are those international movements to help us do the right thing in communities? Jeb.


Jeb Brugmann Well, I mean, and I worked on using those levers in my career, as you know, with ICLEI on the sustainability front. They’re an important mechanism to align interests set at different scales, but particularly local governments across the country and across the continent around a particular policy agenda. And we’ve seen in Quebec, for instance, that the way in which First Nations have used the relationship, a human rights charter issues with the United Nations to address issues facing the people in the north. But I think there are important mechanisms where there can be sanction of local governments working in solidarity across the country or across the continent, and then use that to pressure their national governments to get on board. So one thing we did consistently at COP.


Mary W Rowe Which is in essence what’s happening on housing, that’s in essence what’s happening on housing. Everybody here is living, watching their local leaders, throwing their hands up, saying, for crying out loud, we are in trouble on housing. And finally, the government, the provincial and federal governments are responding. But it’s come from the ground to say, look at what we’re dealing with. Okay.


Jeb Brugmann So in the climate context, what’s in it? So now they have … Over the 30 years I’ve been involved with the COP process. The first COP was in 1995, almost 30 years, I guess that is or yeah, we’ll do the math. But at different stages, we as local governments have been able to get language into the text that we can then go back and leverage with our national governments to do things. What tends to happen, though, is the countervailing forces in this case industry comes in and de-legitimates the involvement of local government. So you just got to take your openings as you get them. But I think, again, not to overplay it, I think the bigger lever we have is to work collectively across the country and shape markets. I think our financial power in the market is more powerful.


Mary W Rowe So let’s dig down on that a little bit, because the dilemma is, I think in the case of housing, maybe pension funds, maybe investment funds, but and I don’t know if Patti and Donnie want to comment on this, but my observation is that the development industry is highly regional in Canada, so the people building housing in Calgary are not the same people building housing in Vancouver, not the same people building housing in Montreal. So there may be engineering firms that are in both, but the investor community perhaps is where some leverage. What do you think, Paddy? What are you experiencing in Calgary?


Patti Pon I would agree totally. On the housing front, I think it runs the gamut and is largely regional. It’s the commercial real estate that is a national or a … and beyond … like the Brookfield’s of the world. And so the thing we see in Calgary and I guess this is what I would offer and I don’t know if it’s the same in other communities – as far as developers are concerned, they’re super conservative and they will speculate like crazy. Like in Calgary, we have a 30% vacancy rate in the downtown, which has had a huge impact on the ability of the city to collect property tax right? If there’s 30% missing. And we created a program actually modeled after, Why Not theater in Toronto called the Meanwhile Lease Program and it was to go to landlords who had empty space and say, look, we have a bunch of creatives and artists who would kill not for free, but at something that’s not market rate. And in addition to doing their own work, they’ll create a vibrancy inside that space. And we could not get it off the ground for the longest time. And then one landlord came forward and we … It was an old shoe store in a rundown building in the middle of downtown, Alcove Art Center went in there and created a community art space. And now the landlord is booking spaces like crazy in their building.


Mary W Rowe So it’s an example of your small experiments with radical ideas.


Patti Pon That’s right


Mary W Rowe That’s wonderful. And just while we’re in a Dina Graser shout out mode, Dina worked on the Why Not project and knows about that Meanwhile Lease Program.


Patti Pon Absolutely. And we in turn shared that program with our folks, our colleagues at the Federal level, and they’re now looking at the possibility of expanding that program so these are these small experiments that I’m speaking to. The other thing I just want to bring forward, and I think Donnie will be more capable of answering it than me. A lot of these, like when you talk about policies, when you talk about declarations, when you talk about all … These are all colonial constructs, not one of them … Kind of the U.N. declaration, kind of, but then it fit into a UN … How about we try something that is absolutely Indigenous centered? Indigenous led? How about we learn from. There are 725 nations on Turtle Island. Somehow they all managed to work together. Somehow they get past the politics. What is there to learn from the things that have existed on this land for thousands of years? And I think we got to get over – we are a country called Canada 160 some odd or 170 years old. And think about a place that is tens of thousands of years old. And what does that do to open our imagination and rely on those who carry the knowledge to give us something else to try? What’s the worst thing that can happen? Like we’re right where we are, which is kind of a crap storm, if you ask me. So what’s the harm in these small experiments with other people leading the conversation and other constructs that come out of it? You know.


Mary W Rowe Before Donnie, before you jump in, something that I often look at is what are the impediments that we can take out, like just … and then see what happens, Right?


Patti Pon Absolutely.


Mary W Rowe And you’re saying what would happen if you just instead of trying to predict what will happen, you just take away those colonial constructs and then see what happens. Go ahead, Donnie.


Donnie Rosa Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. So I have a couple of things I’d like to say. One is that when I worked with what was soon to become formerly known as the Vancouver Park Board, we were working on a colonial audit. And that colonial audit was for us to take a look at all of our structures and practices and what was rooted in colonialism and what needed to change. And by doing an audit, Indigenous led audit of our systems and of the structure, we were able to tell the truth about why the Park board existed, how it started, and how some of that … How much of that construct was born of colonialism. I’ll also offer this – Let’s think about this time immemorial. What does that mean? Time immemorial. How many of us can say “my ancestors have been here since time immemorial?” I cannot say that. My ancestors have been all over. My ancestors have not been here since time immemorial. What does that mean? It means that homelessness or houselessness is only 150 or so years old, didn’t exist before. I will also add that, not only homelessness, but any of this construct that puts people in different or marginalized settings like the Indigenous cultures that I’ve witnessed, lift people up and share the wealth. It’s not about, you know, how I can push somebody down to get up. Colonialism has been the root of climate change. We know this. So until we’re brave enough to say, wait a second, we need to do a colonial audit on a grand scale, we’re not actually going to go to the root. We’re going to work with indigenous communities. We’re going to listen and we’re going to be nice. But are we really going to tackle the root of the issue?


Mary W Rowe A comment just came into the chat, which from Sam … Thanks, Sam, which reflects my instinct, which is that it’s colonialism and capitalism.


Donnie Rosa Yeah, Yeah. Capitalism is a colonial construct.


Mary W Rowe And it’s all about extraction. And if you go back to Zita Cobb in which she was trying to suggest about … that, we have this disconnect between local resources, local assets and global markets. Fanny how does that sound to you? Because you’re in a completely different cultural context. It is interesting to think too how many entities we have – governance bodies, school boards, municipal governments. They’re all older than Canada. You know, the city of Ottawa is older than the country of Canada is. Quebec is old, old, old, old, old. And then, as you suggest, Donnie, all of the Indigenous communities. So how do we how do you square that, Fanny, in terms of your focus, your academic focus? You’re thinking about this stuff all the time.


Fanny Tremblay-Racicot Thank you for this, this conversation. I think we need to think about … Like a colonial audit. First time I’ve heard it, it’s fantastic. And like, in the meantime, it’s necessary. It’s not going to happen like tomorrow morning. In the meantime, how can you … What can you do? How can you do? Where can you do it? What form? And it’s the same thing with thinking about flexibility, like when I’m talking about municipalities in Quebec can do stuff other municipalities cannot do. For example, Quebec municipalities have general taxation and regulatory charge powers. And what can you do with it? Toronto has it, doesn’t use it very much, and there’s a lot of creativity around the use of this new powers. And so we were working on that. And like in the Bill 39, which was just adopted, will allow tax rates and municipal tax rates to vary according to location like sectors in the city and also characteristic on the property assessment role. So if you have a bigger house, your taxation will be higher which opens the door for a more progressive taxation regime. It opens up tax on vehicle registration rights, which was also available under the general taxation powers. Um, taxation on vacant properties. So, it gives local governments the flexibility and the ability to have a framework that corresponds to their problems, local issues and all that. So I think, as it relates to other communities, how can you give the leverage or the ability for communities to organize themselves and some powers.


Patti Pon Yes, self-organization …


Fanny Tremblay-Racicot Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And Patti was thinking about creativity and doing … you can do like small experiments with big intents and you can identify impediments to implementing your solutions and then ask for changes to the municipalities or to provincial or the federal government based on those experiments. So that’s how I see it.


Mary W Rowe You enable it. Yeah. And you know, as we sort of … thanks to everybody in the chat who are putting stuff in, great to see so many of you contributing. I appreciate the energy that people put into this hour. Can we just talk now about economics? The… I was sort of surprised how much of the topic on the discussion on the 30th was that, because as I say, I always worry that we just start zeroing in on one problem – let’s fix housing or let’s fix transit. And here we had big conversations about where is this country going economically? And at CUI we have a couple of programs around focusing on downtowns and focusing on main streets and the economies that are housed there. And I’m wondering what your thoughts are about how to stimulate a conversation as we come out of whatever … post-COVID … Maybe inflation will adjust. I don’t know. Maybe we’re going to have peace. I don’t know. What kind of economy do you think our communities should be contributing to in building? Who wants to take that one first? Patti … Oh Jeb …


Jeb Brugmann  I can start from a point of view … I have no idea.


Mary W Rowe And that’s fine.


Patti Pon That’s my answer.


Mary W Rowe Maybe that’s part of what we sa -. Is that … because I look at the American experience where they’re just throwing tons of money, we’re not doing that. And maybe that’s what we say is that we don’t think there’s a grand strategy. We want to do something …


Jeb Brugmann That was my intro to saying this is … I think there are so many difficult things that need to be discussed and fleshed out, and there are so many interests coming from different value perspectives that the conversation needs to be set up. And that’s where I was saying, my first point is – there needs to be a strategy process put in place that, you know, to the extent that I know a little bit about it is like the National Housing Strategy. And that’s what I’m saying … And probably better than the way that was done.


Mary W Rowe But what would you what would it be, Jeb? It would be what? Well.


Jeb Brugmann I mean, obviously, there’s a huge conversation needs to be had, – Are we still going to continue to be non-value-added producing resource economy or is there something else we can actually pull off? Because, you know, to point to a few Canadian tech companies and say we’re going to leverage AI and be a center of AI innovation in the world, is all the lovely Canadian thinking. Like that’s that is the Canadian way of being. It’s like, oh sure, we can be the best. But there’s the reality of geopolitics, and the economics of the system means there’s probably only a few things we can do from a competitive advantage point of view. We need to have the analysis brought to the table and understand what the real opportunity is. It could be in housing production globally, you know, because you have a crisis, we got some problems to solve. So if we focused our resources on thinking of it and in B.C., there’s been a lot of innovation in the construction industry.


Mary W Rowe But, you know, I mean, we used to export how great our cities are. But you know, we used to have that … We used to have all of the cities you guys are in, they used to be seen as … In the top ten across the country, across the world. So I guess that’s a question. But, you know, we also are subsidizing battery plants. We’re doing all sorts of interesting things. Anybody else have a thought on this? Fanny’s got her hand up looking at the battery plant and soon, as I mentioned, battery plant.


Fanny Tremblay-Racicot I’m like help, help. It’s all rooted in linear economy. It’s not circular, it’s based on resource extraction. So I don’t see like how we’re going to resolve like the energy transition with investing in batteries on, like wetlands.


Mary W Rowe Yeah, I know. I’m afraid I’m with you on that. But I know that those communities are very … But this is part of what Katz was saying. He was saying all the money that’s being thrown into that sector in the US is basically industrialized sprawl and it’s not actually creating any jobs for inner cities, for downtowns. Patti, you’re in the resource sector. You’re in the belly of the beast there.


Patti Pon We certainly are …


Mary W Rowe What kind of conversation do you think it’s possible to have about the relationship between economy and communities?


Patti Pon Well, I mean, in the case of the resource sector and for better or for worse, and this might be a bellwether or a touchstone, that conversation is happening in Alberta. There are some of the largest oil and gas who now call themselves energy companies who are looking at other ways, who are looking at carbon capture. If you want to buy the cleanest oil, you should be buying it from Canada, not Saudi Arabia. Right. Do Canadians know that? Do Canadians know that this conversation is happening in Alberta? And actually conversations around clean energy are happening with the Energy Futures lab in Alberta.


Mary W Rowe And there are people in the chat throwing in stuff about hydrogen. So there are people that know, but I really don’t think it’s a narrative that’s … Your premier is not telling that story. She’s telling a bunch of other stories, but …


Patti Pon Which is why we need creatives and citizens and communities on the ground, right? Like look to your point, Mary, about the U.S. and throwing money at it. The other thing they have is like … The entire population of Canada could fit into California … They are not so far apart. They aren’t literally great distances apart. So you know, in the chat I said if we think about our cities as those living labs where we can do the proof of concept, where in community we know each other because we break bread together, we see each other in other settings. You’re in the circle together all the time. That’s … we work at the speed of trust. Because of that, we can come up with these small experiments in a way that you’re not necessarily going to do when there are literally thousands of miles between you. Zoom is only going to do so much to connect us and getting together once a year courtesy of CUI is only going to get us so far. But I, I really, really encourage all of you, if you’re not already on it, get on a reconciliation journey. Get to know the original peoples and the first peoples on your land and your territory and learn about how they walk in this world. What could we do? We have to restore trust, Mary. And I know in my community there is very little of that with government. So let’s go to the communities where there is trust, and that’s actually the nonprofit sector and corporations, CEOs. And so we know that then why wouldn’t you use them? That’s why you build up your small experiments and you actually formalize the hypothesis because you look at the resources and the assets you have, who’s most trusted, what are the greatest gifts? What do you know most about? And use those to benefit a conversation that you can then scale up and not rely … Even if I did have a premier that was telling that story, who’s going to believe her anyway? She’s an elected official.


Mary W Rowe Yeah, I know. Exactly.


Patti Pon So Why dedicate energy to that when if you redirected the energy to those who have trust, who people do believe, who can effect a change even at a small, granular level. Why wouldn’t you try that?


Mary W Rowe It’s interesting, sort of, I don’t know if you guys do New Year’s resolutions, but it’s an interesting thing to challenge ourselves to say what kinds of environments can we put ourselves into next year that expose us to …? Are there other approaches that build a sense of common trust? Donnie, you were in the Parks business fir ages.


Donnie Rosa I was.


Mary W Rowe That’s part of what that’s about, right?


Donnie Rosa Yeah. And, you know …100% and I have to say two things, one to Patti’s comments and just the whole notion we as Canadians need to recognize when greenwashing is happening and be able to, you know, make our decisions wisely, make sure we’re not seeing, you know, better carbon emissions versus no carbon emissions. Like, what’s the choice? I also wanted to make a statement that unhoused people are not the issue and we focus on unhoused people as the issue. Housing, lack of housing is the issue, a lack of housing options. And we spend so much time and energy going after and attacking unhoused populations. That’s not that we need to turn this around and understand that that’s not the way to solve this. And where are we spending our energy? And the last thing, I’ll say, is that you asked who is missing from the summit. And I think I would like to, in future summits, hear more voices from architects who are relentlessly curious and who are building communities, not just structures, but working to build communities. And those are some of, to Patty’s point, the creative minds that are out there.


Mary W Rowe Yeah, we did get feedback from the design committee. There were some in the audience, but a lot of them … and some of them are on the chat. But I hear you. There’re other sectors and of course the diversity views obviously. And we’ve got a couple minutes left. Any last thoughts about what you think the priorities should be? Yes. Mr. Brugmann …


Jeb Brugmann Well, you know, this thought’s been lurking maybe behind this conversation, but certainly in my mind as a closer, which is – I don’t know how much we as a community broadly define community practice. And we’ve got some diversity here, and we’ll bring in the design professionals and things like that. I think in Canada there’s something … Maybe it’s everywhere – without us engaging and building social movements, I don’t know how much of this big innovation we’re going to get. And for instance, if housing is the issue, there needs to be a much more concerted cross-national Cross City social movement around it to get all of these levels of government that are complacent by nature, to get on with all the things we know they can do. And I don’t know, Patti, whether you would agree with me or Donnie as well, but there’s a sense that when it comes to indigenous peoples, I don’t know if it’s like a cultural shift because it wasn’t like a typical social movement broadly, societally defined, obviously within the nations, there’s a movement, but there’s a shift that’s happened there that is more about recognizing and getting on with the work that needs to be done so we can learn from that as well. Like, I don’t know if you agree that the shift is happening, but it does seem to me that even in our conversation at this summit, that there’s a much broader embrace and understanding and wanting to learn from and recognizing. And so there’s a lesson there, too, that we might apply to some of these other issues. But the base isn’t putting enough pressure in an organized.


Mary W Rowe OK, power to the base. Fanny, last thought.


Fanny Tremblay-Racicot Thank you. Last thought. It makes me think about the model of innovation zones in Quebec for economic development that forces teaching research institutions, the industry, to come up with a plan for local economic development and apply that innovation zone model to community development. So I will think about that. Thank you.


Mary W Rowe That’s a good idea, Donnie and then Patti.


Donnie Rosa I’m appreciative, Mary, that these conversations are happening. I think if you had just left your elbow hole as a fashion statement, your mom would have been happy. That’s all I have to say.


Mary W Rowe Patti?


Thank you very much. Come to Calgary. We’d love to show you what’s happening here. We work with our friends in economic development and tourism development all the time. And we create … It’s a systems change. And that systems change is about changing a mindset, right? Go look up Peterson … And we need to work on that mindset change. And the way you’ll do that is by making people feel something instead of saying, “We don’t have enough of this and we don’t have enough of that”, we need to feel things for each other and you do that at the local level.


Mary W Rowe You know, I often say that cities are an act of empathy.


Patti Pon Absolutely. They have to be. And when we’re not, like we’ve seen in this last several days, that’s when we get in trouble. And we’ve got to remind ourselves of that. We want to be generous and empathetic.


Mary W Rowe So everybody enjoy some kind of moment of urban empathy over the next couple of weeks, as you take a bit of a break. We’ll be back … We have a CityTalk actually a week from today on Toronto’s challenge around a new economic development strategy that’s inclusive and forward thinking and embracing of diversity and different scales and all that kind of thing. So that’s a week from today for those of you that are interested in that. You’ll get a newsletter about it. And in the meantime, we will be posting, hope springs Eternal, the team that … Thank you for all your kudos about November 30. The team that produced November 30 is here on this. Wendy, our videographer and Andre, our podcaster, and then Sam and Emily and Laura and a whole team of folks that carried the burden of the logistics of that. And they’re telling me that all the recordings from the 30th are going to be posted soon. So you’ll be able to watch them, you’ll be able to watch yourselves, you’ll be able to watch others, you’ll be able to send it to friends. And the important thing is that none of this is really fast. Like we learn and learn and learn again and we listen to each other again. And then the third time maybe we hear it, you know? So I’m so appreciative of Jeb and Fanny and Patti and Donnie coming back on with us, coming to Ottawa, but also helping us just kind of continue in the process of sense-making. So I wish you a …  let’s hope a peaceful … Let’s hope we have a peaceful holiday season, more peaceful than we’ve had. And thank you for joining us. And we’ll see you in 2024. And I’ll see some of you in Toronto next week for the last CityTalk of the season. Thanks, everybody.

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 with “Chat Comments” in the subject line

11:58 AM From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone:

Welcome everyone! We invite you to say hello in the chat before we get started. Tell us where you’re watching from!Please change your chat settings to “Everyone” so that everyone can read your comments.  Amplify the conversation on social media! @canurb #citytalk 

11:59 AM From Beate Bowron to Everyone:

Hello from Downtown Toronto. 

12:00 PM From Mary W. Rowe to Everyone:

Change your settings gang to EVERYONE 🙂 

12:00 PM From Don Young to Everyone:

Don Young, Federation of South Toronto Residents Associations 

12:01 PM From Mary W. Rowe to Everyone:

Mary Rowe here, enjoying Charlie Brown! 

12:01 PM From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone:

We are recording today’s session and will share it online next week at We have closed captioning enabled for today’s session. If you would like to turn it off, please click on the button at the bottom of your screen and disableWe hope this session is as interactive as possible, so please feel free to share comments, references, links or questions in the chat. Reminder for the chat to please change your chat settings to “Everyone” so that everyone can read your comments.  Please note that given the limited duration of these sessions, we are not able to answer to raised hands. Do you have specific questions for the panellists? Post them in the chat, and we’ll try to answer as many as possible.Responses to questions and additional resources will be provided in the chat by CUI staff.  

Amplify the conversation on social media! @canurb #citytalk 

12:01 PM From Jeb Brugmann to Everyone:

Hi All – Jeb Brugmann here from Resilient Cities Catalyst (Toronto- today in Haliburton, ON watching the wild turkeys roam by) 

12:02 PM From Abigail Slater to Everyone: 

Hello from Tkaranto from city talk super fan 

12:03 PM From Deb Moore to Everyone:

Greetings from Victoria, BC 

12:03 PM From adam redish to Everyone:

Greetings from Downtown Toronto 

12:04 PM From Claire Noble to Everyone:

Greetings from Calgary 

12:04 PM From Minu Benny to Everyone:

Greetings from Kitchener, Ontario 

12:04 PM From Dina Graser to Everyone:

Howdy from Toronto 

12:04 PM From Roland Dorsay to Everyone:

And from Ottawa 

12:04 PM From Kailey Lamont to Everyone:

Hello from Edmonton 

12:04 PM From Emma Cochrane to Everyone:

Hello from Ottawa 

12:05 PM From Marla Zucht to Everyone:

Good Morning/Afternoon. I am grateful to be joining you from the shared unceded territory of the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation, the land we now know as Whistler. 

12:05 PM From Erwin Dreessen to Everyone:

Greetings from Ottawa. (I did not attend.) 

12:05 PM From Neil Chadda to Everyone:

Hello from City of Brampton 

12:05 PM From Heather Galbraith to Everyone:

Hello/Bonjour all from Calgary 

12:07 PM From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone:

The First State of Canada’s Cities Report is a call for clear and practical change that considers decision making, policymaking, investment choices, business practices and community norms.The report, which is now available, was released in Ottawa at the State of Canada’s Cities Summit and encourages us all to be brave and thoughtful in applying what we learned through COVID-19.  

Read it here: 

Fanny Tremblay-Racicot, Professeure agrégée, Ecole Nationale d’Administration Publique (Quebec City, QC)Fanny Tremblay-Racicot is a tenured professor in municipal and regional administration at the École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP) and the director of the Centre de recherche sur la gouvernance (CERGO). Her research program focuses on institutional reforms, public policy instruments, and management strategies to achieve sustainable urban development goals. With numerous publications on transportation and land use governance, her current research projects delve into the analysis of territorial policies for circular economy, the affordability of transit-oriented developments, and the use of new municipal fiscal powers for the benefit of energy transition in transportation and planning. 


12:08 PM From Roland Dorsay to Everyone:

At the Nov 30 session, there was discussion of the need for Cities to secure more funding to do more of what needs doing. How do cites persuade provinces (and the Feds) to devolve more responsibility and more fund raising powers to the cities? 

12:15 PM From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone:

Donnie Rosa, Executive Director, Community Services, Squamish First Nation – Ḵ’iyáx̱an, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Vancouver, BC)With over 30 years’ experience in parks, recreation, planning, facility management, operations, arts, culture, and community building most recently as the GM/CAO of the Vancouver Park Board. Donnie Rosa (they/she) is currently the Executive Director for Squamish First Nation providing leadership on the construction of over 600 new housing units, Senáḵw, community planning, community safety and on reserve operations. Donnie recently concluded their Presidency of BC Recreation and Parks Association, Director of Canadian Parks & Recreation and Board member of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) and continues to be a thought leader in the province and country with respect to parks, recreation, leadership and working with community.  


Patti Pon, President and CEO, Calgary Arts Development (Calgary, AB)Calgary Arts Development president and CEO Patti Pon (she/her/hers) is a veteran community and arts champion with an extensive track record of leadership and service in Calgary and beyond. Patti has deep and diverse experience in the arts sector, she came to the position of president and CEO following her position as director, resource development, Calgary Arts Development. Prior to working at Calgary Arts Development Patti held a number of senior leadership roles in arts organizations, primarily in Alberta. Her community service includes being a board member of the Agora Foundation – publisher of The Philanthropist Journal, chairing the Program committee for the Action Chinese Canadians Together (ACCT) national leaders summits 2019. 2021 and 2023 and is the first woman of colour elected to the board of the Calgary Stampede. 


From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone 12:19 PM 

Hear more from Patti in a one-on-one CityTalk with Mary W. Rowe: 

12:20 PM From Morgan Vespa to Everyone:

So grateful for those comments! 

12:21 PM From Christopher Clacio to Everyone:

Do the next conference in Winnipeg if talking about our country and future do it in the centre of Canada. 

12:22 PM From Tim Douglas to Everyone:

Really interested in broadening our thinking about diversity to more than our physical appearance but to diversity of thought – we need to be constantly open to different ideas and perspectives and flex that muscle more 

12:23 PM From adriana dossena to Everyone:

Creative thinking needed not just to solve problems, but to frame & process the issues & values – many thanks for bringing this to discussion 

12:23 PM From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone:

Jeb Brugmann, Founding Principal, Resilient Cities Catalyst (Toronto, ON & New York, NY)Jeb has a 35-year career working with cities to establish new practices for local sustainability, social equity and justice. In the 1980s, as National Coordinator of Local Elected Officials for Social Responsibility, he led the establishment of the Sanctuary Cities movement in the United States. In 1989/90, he founded ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability, and as Secretary General from 1990-2000 built the worldwide organization. In this capacity, Jeb established the UN-sponsored, worldwide Local Agenda 21 initiative for urban sustainability planning, which by the year 2000 had involved more than 6,400 communities in 113 countries. He also co-founded ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection campaign, which engaged more than 500 cities in climate mitigation planning. 


12:24 PM From Hartmut Steinke to Everyone:

such a visceral conversation 

12:25 PM From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone:

Welcome new joiners! Just a reminder to please change your chat settings to “Everyone” so we can all see your comments. 

12:28 PM From Dina Graser to Everyone:

No no Jeb, I did not oversee the National Housing Strategy! (But thanks for the promotion, LOL).  Helped lead the National Housing Collaborative, a collective of housing stakeholders who made recommendations to inform the NHS. 

12:29 PM From Mostafa Kheireddine to Everyone:

A stimulating theme. Creative thinking must certainly bring technical solutions to the city and communities, but above all it must bring cultures together for peace and development. 

12:29 PM From Patti Pon to Everyone:

Totally agree! 

12:30 PM From George Howie to Everyone: 

in 1900 VanHorne set up wagon wheel rail ways for cities IE Toronto to Kingston 

12:31 PM From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone:

Do you have specific questions for the panellists? Post them in the chat, and we’ll try to answer as many as possible.

12:33 PM From George Howie to Everyone:

today we have high speed say to Peterboro a new comunity including mass produced factory houses and buildings. 

12:35 PM From Dustin Martin to Everyone: 

As a planner I see a lot of housing policy focused on increasing market supply of housing which is long overdue. However, I have seen less emphasis on non-market housing and creative solutions that could increase supply of non-market housing like co-operative housing, supportive housing, and municipal development corporations pursuing development where the private market isn’t. Did this topic come up and if so, were there some creative ideas shared on this? 

12:35 PM From Erwin Dreessen to Everyone:

With a regressive government like Doug Ford’s in Ontario, the federal workaround is a godsend! 

12:37 PM From adriana dossena to Everyone:

Have there been any discussions with Federal reps to consider bio regional governance models to include First Nations & framework to align sectors? 

12:40 PM From George Howie to Everyone:

time for planned communities serviced by Federal . Money from investors is available for goverment projects include new Waste process to hydrogen low temp 150c approved in Ontario but not used non incineration of house hold garbage to hydrogen or sterile fertilizer 1 garbage truck  per 30 minutes Dumps are gold mines to produce funds for these new communities 

12:41 PM From Beate Bowron to Everyone:

Thanks, Dustin, I also wonder about the emphasis on market housing when it seems to me our real problem is long-term stable affordable housing. Comments on the new/old federal housing program ideas MUST stress that profits have to be taken out of any new program. 

2:42 PM From Mostafa Kheireddine to Everyone:

Totally agree with Patti Pon 

12:42 PM From George Howie to Everyone:

re Garbage to hydrogen. 

12:43 PM From Beate Bowron to Everyone:

Re problems with our constitution – could the 1970s federal Department of Urban Affairs be re-established now or have the Provinces moved so far away from allowing this, that there would be a huge outcry? 

12:43 PM From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone:

As always, the The CityTalk chat is thoughtful, provocative and dynamic! Amplify the conversation on social media! @canurb #citytalk 

12:43 PM From Jeb Brugmann to Everyone:

Broadly: Local urban governments that have air rights and regional governments that have ‘greenfield’ land that could be suitable for new housing development can collectively recruit, engage, do product and finance innovation, and ultimately do preferential development permitting with a community of development practitioners that will build what is needed. 

12:44 PM From sam shukor to Everyone:

is it colonialism or capitalism? 

12:44 PM From George Howie to Everyone:

invented in Italy see BHR energy for this converter garbage to hydrogen that creates funds for new communities 

12:46 PM From Gil Penalosa to Everyone:

It’s about champions, doers. Following decades of failures at city and provincial level, ministers of Housing at provincial, BC’s Rav Kahlon & Fed Sean Fraser, turning all around. From blah blah to actions. The two of them have done more for solving housing crisis, building communities, proximity, than cities since 2000. Funny that now some cities call for autonomy after having done sprawl, single fam zoning, cities bad for mental and physical health, environment, mobility. Urgency to do cities radically different from past 50 years. Doable. 

12:48 PM From sam shukor to Everyone: 

Hi Mary if you remember I met you at the school of architect DDes syposium. This discussion is really interesting as I’m working now on revitalization of strip plazas through tackling community fragilities. I’d love to continue the discussion with yourself and with Patti. Great stuff. 

12:48 PM From Patti Pon to Everyone:

With cities as living labs we can undertake our “small experiments with radical intent” to show proof of concept and then identify the elements that will give us the ability to scale up 

12:49 PM From Dina Graser to Everyone:

I love that concept, Patti. 

12:50 PM From Asha Jayaraman to Everyone:

Along with Colonial Audit might we not also need a Audit for inclusivity (economic, cultural) of newcomers? (the vast access to lived experience, creative problem-solvers, academic qualifications currently facing debilitating barriers in even accessing the labor market in a manner respectful of these experiences, qualifications vs. exiting the Canada market for bigger, more respectful markets and esp. for racialized women) 

12:56 PM From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone:

Thank you for joining us! Only 5 minutes left. Keep the conversation going #CityTalk @canurb If you have any questions you would like us to follow up on, please send them to cui@canurb.orgFor more critical conversations, join us on December 21 for CityTalk | Live – How Can We a Build Dynamic, Inclusive Economy in Canada’s Largest City? Keep an eye on our socials for the registration announcement.We have recorded today’s session and will share it online along with the chat transcript and key takeaways within a week at 

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12:56 PM From Asha Jayaraman to Everyone:

Initiative at UK gov to build rapid MVP (Minimum Viable Product) by creating a open API (rAPId initiative, no website yet) and a Evidence House (datasets) across Departments/Ministries –perhaps a perspective to building fast, thoughtful pilots to scale 

12:57 PM From Patti Pon to Everyone:

And big movements start at a LOCAL level 

12:58 PM From Erwin Dreessen to Everyone: 

The Alliance against Homelessness is doing a pretty good job! 

12:59 PM From sam shukor to Everyone:

I do think that we need to work together to create a Canadian strategy for revitalization of the existing structures, places, community cherished zones etc. I hope that this is not half baked thought. thank you and all the best to all of you. 

12:59 PM From adriana dossena to Everyone:

Bioregional approach = related to land, soil, water, energy, intergenerational cultural & natural heritage continuity planning archetypal vernacular for regenerative, place-based, participatory design, education, development & resilient communities – all the ingredients re-considered in novel ways that build networks & safe space for systems change 

12:59 PM From Alysson Storey to Everyone:

As a municipal Councillor worrying about this every day, I appreciate this conversation so much. Thank you everyone. 

01:00 PM From adam redish to Everyone:

Excellent conversation today – and the Summit on Nov 30 was great – thx for organizing this dialogue. Keep it going! 

01:00 PM From Dustin Martin to Everyone:

Thanks all! Great conversation! 

01:00 PM From Gil Penalosa to Everyone:

Thanks all, especially Mary for always interesting and useful sessions. 

01:00 PM From Emily Wassmansdorf (CUI) to Everyone:

For more critical conversations, join us on December 21 for CityTalk | Live – How Can We a Build Dynamic, Inclusive Economy in Canada’s Largest City? Keep an eye on our socials for the registration announcement. 

01:00 PM From Kim Sare to Everyone:

super interesting discussion – thank you! 

01:00 PM From Asha Jayaraman to Everyone:

Thank you for this forum! Happy Holidays! 

01:00 PM From Minu Benny to Everyone:

Thanks all. Great conversation! 

01:01 PM From Mostafa Kheireddine to Everyone:

Thanks for discussion inspirante 

01:01 PM From Regan Hogan to Everyone:

Thanks for this! Lots to learn and apply to my community of St. John’s, NL. Looking forward to more City Talks! Take care all and Happy Holidays. 

01:01 PM From JOSE JUAN MEDINA CARDONA to Everyone:

Cities need to continue innovating their zoning approaches to address the dynamic shifts in housing needs and preferences. This includes integrating mixed-use zoning and considering the impact of digital platforms on residential areas. Thank you all!!! 

01:01 PM From George Howie to Everyone:

best discussion with positive outlines