State of Canada’s Cities Summit – What Success Looks Like: Leveraging Our Assets
CUI has framed every conversation it has convened since March 2020 as what is working, what’s not, and what’s next for Canada’s cities and urban regions. These final two sessions bring together participants to highlight their solutions but also identify the key obstacles to further success, and the levers governments have and must exercise for Canada to succeed in this poly-crisis environment.
Note to readers: This video session was transcribed using auto-transcribing software. Questions or concerns with the transcription can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org with “transcription” in the subject line.
Carolyn Whitzman Hi, everyone. I’m Carolyn Whitzman. I’m the Expert Advisor to the Housing Assessment Resource Tools Project. I, too, would like to acknowledge that I’m on the unceded and unsurrendered territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabe people. And I want to point out that there are many copies of the report that Margaret Pfoh mentioned at the last session, and to say that urban Indigenous land back is a form of reconciliation. I’m going to introduce panel in alphabetical order by the first name because as Carolyn Weitzman, I always prefer using the first name alphabetical order. So we have Donnie Rosa, who is the executive … You see, this is … We do not know one another. We have never met, Mary forbade it. Okay. Hi, Donnie. Donnie Rosa, who is the Executive Director of K’iyáxan Ch’áwch’aw or Squamish Community Services from Vancouver. We have Reverend Graham Singh … hi … Sitting next to me, who is the CEO of Trinity Center’s Foundation in Montreal. We have Joy Cramer, who is with the Southern Chiefs Organization from Winnipeg. Of course, I’m using all the colonial names as well. On the screen, we have Stéphan Déry, who is the CEO of the Canada Lands Company. Yes, Stéphan, we’ve met before. And last but certainly not least, we have Vik Gupta, who is the CEO of Create Toronto, an agency that develops municipal land. And I’m going to ask one question, of each panelist, and then others can answer if they wish or dare. So I’m actually going to start off with Donnie and ask what most excites you about the potential of Canadian cities?
Donnie Rosa Thank you for that. So I am Donnie Rosa. My pronouns are they and she. And it is a privilege to be up here. And I do see some people who are like me in the crowd. So that’s kind of nice to have folks here. What excites me? Well, I want to be clear. I work for a First Nation. I don’t speak for any Indigenous people. I don’t speak for the First Nation. I have 30 years in municipal government and I have almost four months with a First Nation. And I can tell you my learning curve has been like this … And what excites me is that with reconciliation being so present and seeing what I see just in this short time with the Nation, we have so much that we can learn from how the Nations govern. And I’ll give you one small example, and I’ll come back later, I’m sure, but I have never heard too many … And no disrespect to the politicians in the room or former politicians. I haven’t heard too many politicians or administrators talk about doing things for their children and their grandchildren and the next generation and seven generations. I don’t ever go a day that I don’t hear about that with the Nation when the government, the Nation government, talks about planning, they’re talking about their grandchildren. They’re accountable to their ancestors. We could learn from that. And that excites me because that learning’s right there.
Carolyn Whitzman Yeah. Thank you so much, Donnie and I try to think about how I’m going to be a good ancestor, that’s for sure. Is there anyone else who wants to add a couple of words about what most excites you about the potential of Canadian cities? Before I move on to the next question.
Vic Gupta I mean, I’ll certainly comment on that. I think just the fact that we’re all in this room today, I think I think it was Seth that showed that slide of the suburban landscape with nowhere to convene, to create connection, to create community except your own home. And I think what I find, certainly at the city of Toronto now is that we are seeing that less and less that we are seeing placemaking, we are seeing complete communities, we are seeing, you know, our land use designations reflect that, you know, to the sometimes the frustration of our development partners. And I think that just creates connection. We know how important human connection is to create the kind of vibrant society we need. So that’s what really excites me, that we can live, work, learn, play in, you know, these 15 minute neighborhoods. And we’re seeing it more and more. And that’s exciting.
Carolyn Whitzman Actually, Vic, I’m going to go to you for the next question. So you get to double dip. What do you see as one thing that needs to change in order to unlock the potential? And particularly I’m going to put you on the spot of government owned land in Canadian cities.
Vic Gupta Yeah, thank you for that. I mean, for me, it really comes down to one thing and I’ll break it down into a few aspects of that, and that is is alignment and alignment across governments at all levels and within within governments and within the private sector as well. And I think alignment in three areas, one on policy, I think we see the objectives of our provincial and federal government sometimes at odds. You know, I think the provincial government generally has a view to create more housing in general, which will lift all boats that the city of Toronto, we feel a little differently. We think it’s important for us to build affordable, deeply affordable, to look at all of the housing continuum. And we need the federal government to share in that view, which we believe they do. Philosophically, we need all of policies aligned. I’ll give you one example at the CMHC, and I think this is, you know, I think they’re working really hard to change this, but they’re the policy objectives of of the housing minister are sometimes not aligned with the underwriting rules or the manner in which they underwrite deals at the CMHC. And so we have sites that we are trying to create 99 years of affordability at 80% of the average market rent. And those deals are harder to paper, they’re harder to get approved than a 20 year affordability at 100% and more. So policy goals, more affordability for longer periods are are inversely related to the ability to get the financing because it’s it’s a lower risk to only have affordability for 20 years. And the two other things I would add, Carolyn, is money. Of course, we all need to be aligned around money and then execution. I think at the city of Toronto, this is just sort of, I think, a a generational transformation in the way we’re going to look at. Our housing report has just been approved by council, led by our new mayor. And, you know, it really talks about creating alignment within the city division so that we can get, you know, everybody kind of prioritizing these housing goals to move these things faster. And I think we need that up and down the value chain.
Carolyn Whitzman So again, thinking about the long term, as Donnie said, beyond 20 years which is a flash in the pan to 99 and multiple generations. Graham I saw that you had something you wanted to say, so I’m going to give you an opportunity to jump in about the greatest opportunities and constraints that you see around Canadian cities.
Graham Singh Thanks, Caroline. If you go back to 1867, we have a story that begins with the colonial journey of Canada, but marks out a particular type of governance. And with that come religious communities, particularly Canada’s historic colonizing religious communities. Most of those churches are on the corner of Main and Oxford. In every town in Canada, they are social infrastructure. They are the places that are non-profits and charities rely on the types of community connections we’re talking about. Many of them happen within those spaces. And I get really excited when I’m sitting beside Vic, and I think about what we just heard from Al Kareem about some of the older community, the elderly community. I can tell you they’re all on the boards of those churches, those same people who we love to build a legal basement apartment. They’re also holding on to that church on the corner of Main and Oxford. And so I got excited when I heard Alkarim talk about that. And then when I look at the work that we get to do with Creato, we have the privilege of going and saying, Hey, here’s Creato. They want to extend the library, the municipal library out into your church and build housing above it. And it’s the city. You’re not going to get a better deal than working with the city and holding their hand as they work that out. So to me, I get excited about the generational shifts and the belief that we have the places we have existing social infrastructure, like, for instance, churches. We have the vision, like we heard from Alkarim, like we heard from Vic. We actually have the funds. We just need the collaborative spirit now to move ahead. And I know we’ll have some other time to talk more. I want to tell you all and get you excited about a new community land trust that we’re building to see the transition of religious land in Canada. And those are the kinds of things that I’m excited and I’m thankful to Mary and everybody at CEI for getting us together. They’ve helped me get through the pandemic and not go crazy. And here we are. But it’s time now to lean in. And at the end of this day, I’m focused on what are we going to be able to deliver into these kinds of areas.
Carolyn Whitzman And I was so happy to see asset based community development brought up earlier today, which is something that is from my youth so far away and still so important. Stéphan I see that you’re pointing … Hello.
Stéphan Déry Hello, Carolyn and everybody. I’m happy to be here, unfortunately. Could it be here in there in person? And we’ll be looking for my drink ticket, though, if I can use it in Toronto. I just want to build on that conversation. I find that so interesting that Vic said, and also my other colleagues on existing infrastructure, how do we get that level, the true level of government to work together? You know, I represent Canada Lens Company. We have over a thousand acre across the country of development land in development, and sometime we would like to go faster to bring houses, affordable homes to the market. You know, and I speak about that a lot. In my previous job, I was responsible for the Government of Canada portfolio across the country, and we have a ton of empty building because of the new ways of working hybrid work and all of this. And this is existing infrastructure connected to transit, close to transit like the church is is close to transit because you’re right downtown, you’re right in the middle of town. So how can we look, work with the province, the federal and the municipal to ease the conversion of some of these building ease the conversion or the additions to the church to more level? I think it’s going to need a cohesion. It’s going to be a lot of collaboration of all government, maybe putting politics aside. I don’t know if there’s a politician in the room, but I think we need to put politics aside and say we have a crisis, let’s act on it. And I’m not true. It is more, more and more suburb area, building the community out and driving cars and all that, this, that, but using the existing infrastructure that we have or the possibility we have to create not only space for people to live, but I like what Vic said, neighborhood where people can live, work and play and really vibrant community that will last for a decade and people will enjoy living it. Thank you for letting me had a little bit to that discussion.
Carolyn Whitzman Merci Stéphan … Joy, you haven’t had an opportunity to answer a question yet. Can I ask you what assets does your organization bring to help develop the changes we need for Canadian cities?
Joy Cramer Most of you may not know, but we acquired the Hudson Bay building downtown Winnipeg not that long ago, just over a year ago, and it had been sitting vacant for a number of years. When I was a deputy in housing, we went to to look at the building for potentially renting out a floor. I remember we don’t the building didn’t meet the lighting standards for office buildings. And I was also told the people that own it in New York, they are in the property development business. They have New York rates. You’re never going to even be able to rent it, lease the space. And so we left it alone and it sat vacant. After they closed the two floors and it was a time where the homelessness. Numbers were growing downtown Winnipeg. There were unfortunately, are people living in shelters, in the bus shelters. There’s lots of things going on. COVID happened, and during COVID, we said, okay, let’s try and get the bay. And we said, let’s figure that out. We are fighting with the provincial government every day at once a week. We’re putting out a press release because of some of the things that the provincial government was doing to first nations during COVID. And so we didn’t have a relationship with the provincial government. We decided, how do we go about doing this in in stealth mode? Really, everyone we spoke to, we made them sign an NDA. And it was funny because we were like, Everyone’s signing an NDA because they don’t really believe we’re going to be able to pull this off. So they’re like, Yeah, look, I’ll sign it, you know, share us your ideas, whatever. But we created a strategy, a circle strategy where we were the most who are the most important people that we think we need to talk to before we, you know, go out larger? And there was only three people in that middle circle, and one of them was Heritage Winnipeg, the people that had certified that building, Heritage building. Our next door neighbor, which was true North sports and entertainment that owned the Winnipeg Jets. And CMHC deals with the three that we said we need to go talk to them first. And they all agreed to, you know, in terms of confidentiality. And it was at that point because we went out there with our own values and principles of respect. We started with respect. Who do we need to respect? At the very front end. And that’s who we chose to respect, and that’s how we started to develop our relationships. And then we went to a second level of circles still doing the NDA. And then from there, we called the owners and we said, okay, we want to talk to you. And we were very fortunate. I wish that our grand chief here, our grand chief for the Southern Chiefs was here because he’s a young 40 year old young man who has vision, who doesn’t understand the word no, who says, let’s go do it. We should do it. We should have that. We should fight for that. And so it was with that thinking that he traveled to New York City with some elders and and then asked for the building. And the governor of of the HBC building at that point decided he didn’t tell us till later that he decided that that was the sign that he needed, that this is where he had to give the building to. And so from there we started to meet with bigger parts of our circle, and we met a lot of people who didn’t have a lot of faith or even hope. I would say for us, which I found interesting, given all of my experience working in government and nonprofits. And but we kept we kept moving on and we said, okay, we want to be able to get this building for nothing. It was apparently worth nothing, not to us anyways. But we said we’re going to buy it in a reconciliation way. And so of course we had done a lot of research and we knew that there was a rent ceremony where you can buy a building. Not by building, but when. Hudson Bay. HBC When the monarchy comes into Canada, into the old Rupert’s land area, HBC is required to provide rent in the form of two beaver pelts and two elk skin. And so I said to the lawyer for HBC, I said, That’s what we’re offering to buy it. And he had a really good belly laugh. He went and I said, No, that’s how we’re going to buy the building, because this is going to be an act of reconciliation and this is how we’re going to approach it. And so we we kind of fed them what our vision was on how we wanted to approach the building because of the historic significance of the Hudson Bay and First Nations. That’s our building. That’s our company. We grew that company. We made that company into the company that it was to our fur trading and so forth. And so the new buffalo, well, the buffalo was depleted because of fur, because of the ability for the buffalo to be shipped to Europe. And Europe came up with a really interesting machine on how to ten fur very quickly and ten. So that’s why the the buffalo was depleted very quickly in the prairies in Canada and in North America. Anyways, I digress a little bit there. So that’s how it started. The next step was to get our partners onside that we didn’t have great relationships with. So the provincial government, while we were in stealth mode and the in the premier and if you don’t know Manitoba, we had to I’ll just say we had a terrible premier and I don’t think many people would argue with us. We even had a worse second premier who put on the billboards that they shouldn’t search the landfill. If you want us to be the next government, we won’t search the landfill. It was just terrible racism right in our face. But nonetheless, they offered up $25 million for anyone who was going to acquire the Bay to support the heritage aspects of it. Unbeknownst to us that we were negotiating acquiring the bay at the time. So we ended up having somewhat of a relationship with the province. After that, it was the city who really wanted to participate and help us because of downtown, because of downtown Winnipeg. It’s pretty scary. Downtown. It’s I drive down there every weekend, our building is down there. It’s not a great place. And and our neighbor to the north there, downtown they were and still to this day are a great neighbor. I’m taking up too much time here. Sorry. And we’ve then, because of our neighbor relationship, our respect, we built trust. And now we’re working on a major redevelopment of downtown. We’re visioning it. We’re looking at how we can change downtown private sector and first nations. No governments involved at this point. And so we have big, huge aspirations. But it was based on really just the beginnings of respect and then building on trust. I’ll end there.
Carolyn Whitzman Joy, thank you for that wonderful, inspiring story telling. Graham, I know you had something you wanted to add, but I’m going to ask you the next question. And what you can do, of course, is whatever question I ask, say what you want to say. So what do you most want? Many decision makers who are here today and of course, there’s all kinds of different decision makers to to hear from today’s session.
Graham Singh Thanks, Carolyn. And I will answer that question by responding to Joy and letting her know that what you did, Joy, with the HBC building has had reverberations all across Canada in the work we’re doing with seeing religious lands handed back to those who have been excluded from religious narratives. And those include our First Nations LGBTQ, two spirit community, two spirit led communities, black led communities, women led communities. And I want to thank you for your inspiration for us, specifically in the work of handing back religious land. We have the privilege of serving three band councils across Canada and handing church properties back to Bound to Council Control. Some of that is done in conjunction with the provincial governments in question, and the question remains as we look at Canada’s 12,000 places of worship sitting in the center of cities, what would it be like to offer some of those properties to Indigenous persons and Indigenous leadership communities and groups to actually see those places like you have seen become places of reconciliation? And what I would like policy leaders to hear is a very specific question and we are getting ready to be in front of the Deputy Prime Minister with two federal departments who are helping support the creation of a national community Land trust for social purpose real estate, which is not necessarily housing. And these are churches that we don’t have an answer for. Many times they’re sold on the open market because there is no other solution. And we have I love the question or the opportunity to say, give me something I can say yes to. And we are really inspired by those here in Ottawa, those in particular within government in Quebec [short French sentance here …] So I want policymakers to hear we’re not just talking. We have a specific proposal in front of them which they can say yes to. And I really believe it’s going to help accelerate our part, which is only one small part of the story we’re hearing today of getting that forward. Thank you.
Carolyn Whitzman Well, I don’t know about the rest of you. I’m feeling very excited and empowered, which is a great way to end the day. And I’m just going to ask one more question. So I’m sort of waggling my eyebrows at Mary just in case she has a couple of questions to ask afterwards. I’m going to start with Stéphan, and then maybe the rest of you could put in a couple of words about it. Oh, actually, it’s possible that Stéphan isn’t the right person to answer this, because I’m not sure how much of today he heard. But what’s the most important thing you’ve heard today that you’re going to be bringing back to your organization, Canada Lands Company?
Stéphan Déry Well, I think I think what I heard and it was touched by our to call HBC building and the previous discussion also. So to me and also everything that was said on the panel to me is how do you reconcile. The public good and the obligation of the past. And how do you bring all of this together? And I think that’s where we have to work, maybe not as much on profit making, but more on reconciliation and ensuring that everybody has a place to live. And everybody and I know we can do it as a country. We’ve done other things, and I know that together as a country, we can do that and ensuring that people have a place to sleep, have a place to live, and they can thrive in their life.
Carolyn Whitzman We can do hard things. Donnie?
Donnie Rosa Yeah. Thank you. Before working with the Nation, I was the General Manager of Parks and Rec in Vancouver. So working with people who are unhoused in parks was not unfamiliar to me. What I heard today that was most encouraging, Coming through Parks and Rec for 30 years and working at the front line with community that our leadership, our CEOs, our politicians understand the value of working at the grassroots. And, you know, we need look no further than that. We are SDA to understand the value of bringing out the what the stone soup model, what’s there, what’s in the community, what can you bring together to create something magical?
Carolyn Whitzman Thank you Donnie … Vic?
Vic Gupta Yeah. I think you know something that I really took away from today. I mean, a number of things. But one thing in particular is the. Is the connection between health and well-being and and community investment and housing. And that at the end of the day, that actually for governments does lead to financial benefits, that we know that if we don’t intervene early enough and create those both again those connections and the mental health well-being of our people, that that the costs just escalate exponentially. And I think, you know, that kind of a message is is really powerful. I also say to our organization regularly and I think it was reinforced today that that none of this is a zero sum game, that we don’t have to give up equity and inclusion benefits, that we don’t have to give up supporting those that have not participated equally in the economic benefits of of of a growing economy, that we don’t have to give up environmental decarbonization, climate goals to build housing, that we can do it all that there is the investment community is far more sophisticated. It has in this country in particular has expectations around, you know, broadly called ESG, more so than they ever had before. It’s it’s table stakes. And I think I just never accept those. I sort of reject that choice that it has to be one or the other. And I, I hope others have taken that away. And then if I could add one more thing, that last panel, I think, left something that I sometimes even overlook as as a person from a visible minority background is that we do need to see more role models from our diverse communities, from equity seeking groups. I was really moved by the panel that we had before, and, you know, I just think that we need, you know, those that if we expect young people, particularly those from equity deserving groups, those that have not participated from our indigenous communities, they need to see people that look like themselves in in these conversations.
Carolyn Whitzman I love the … Yes, I am thinking … I love the notion of a generational and more inclusive shift. It’s it’s all very lovely. Graham.
Graham Singh I have to confess that I got here at midday, so I missed a little bit of the morning because we spent two days with CMHC looking at the future of unlocking religious land for housing. And there’s a lot going on in Ottawa right now. I know other people here who’ve been part of other things going on this week. What I think I’m taking away, though, from those meetings, what I’m hearing, what I’m hearing today. There are sources of funds that only solve one part of some of the things we’ve been talking about, which means we need more vehicles that like the game of Trivial Pursuit. You have that little piece that holds the individual little prizes that you get. We need more structures that are able to hold multiple sources of funding together. In my view, and I’ve heard a lot of that, and if I were to take some of the things I’ve heard today, I think if we’re honest, we realize we cut across a number of government departments and programs as we talk, and that’s good as long as we’re willing to do the hard work of rolling up our sleeves and building the kind of funding structures that will allow those to go together. And Carolyn, the one thing I haven’t heard today, I want to make sure everybody knows that Economic and Social Development Canada launched this year the Social Finance Fund. It’s $755 million of funding to create these kinds of structures. We’re very pleased to be doing our work within that context, and I want to champion that. I think we’re hearing that not only from the federal government but all across Canada. We’ve heard from former mayor of Victoria, Lisa helps. We’ve been working firsthand with Lisa, working with Premier Eby to roll through and push things through. So if we can push across and see that horizontal piece actually happening, I think we’ve actually been asking for that all day. So let’s do it.
Carolyn Whitzman Thank you so much. Graham And I’m very consciously giving Joy the last word before the questions be short.
Joy Cramer I think that what I came came away with or will come away with today is there are some allies here and I really want to acknowledge the allies in the room. I think that without allies and I’ve worked with allies all my career from when I was in Toronto in an initial job, Health Aboriginal Legal Services, I’m one of the founding members there that without allies and mentors, we would not be able to move our agenda forward. And I think that that that’s the way we need to go forward. So just for everyone in the room who’s who is an ally and you guys know who you are. Margaret Chimney, which for that I want to say that leadership and government changes change the world for First Nations. Right now we have a wonderful premier and we have a mayor that is coming to the table and we have the federal government that is trying to open the doors so that First Nations can do what we need to do for ourselves and get out of the way. So I think that the recipe is there, and I just want to acknowledge that that we started with not such great partnership arrangements with governments, and now we’re in a really great place. So very fortunate and grateful for that.
Carolyn Whitzman Thank you, Joy. Mary, some questions for this wonderful panel.
Mary W Rowe Yeah, exactly. It’s always this is the worst timeslot, isn’t it? And you’re making it so interesting. And everybody is listening so attentively to everything you’re saying. A question, a rather impatient question, of course, “you’re all either working for representing organizations that have land assets, the reason this session was called leveraging was – land. Why has it taken so long for us to get smart about this and realize that we need to deploy land to serve people? Stéphan, you want to take that first? Why have we taken so long?
Stéphan Déry I will try to give it a shot. But to be honest with you, it’s loud. This complicated building on it. This complicated approval is complicated. And to the first point, and I think Vic was talking about how we need to work together, the level of government. I have to align policy aligned willingness. I think we can do a lot better. And I’ll give you an example. It takes about anywhere from 4 to 7 years to dispose of a federal asset, but that hasn’t been reason. It has doesn’t have the infrastructure on it and all of this. And then you start from there. Then you have to get the approval by the city and that could take four or five, six years to have a concept plan approved. And then you need rezoning and permitting and all of this. And that’s where I think the collaboration is so important, the alignment of government, of thinking, but also the desire to move and to move fast, especially in the middle of a crisis that we live because we’ll never get over it if we don’t move faster on right now.
Mary W Rowe Basically the previous session you didn’t hear Stéphane, but it was all about risk. It turned out to be all about risk and can we have a higher tolerance for risk? Anybody else want to comment on why it’s taken so long? Vic …
Vic Gupta Yeah, and you know, I think this is what I, I talk to my staff about every day. I think the longer it takes at the front end of the development value chain, it’s exponentially more at the, at the tail end. And I think Stephane has hit the nail on the head. I mean, it sounds like excuses, but the truth is building is hard, it’s complex, it’s high risk, both development risk construction, risk financing risk. But I think we can do better. I think, you know, all our organization, most of you may not really appreciate what CreateTO is, but I think the city of Toronto did really something quite special in the creation of this agency, because we prior to the creation of our organization and I suspect it’s it’s like this in most municipalities, real estate is not a strategic it’s not looked at as a strategic asset. It is the land with which programs sit on. And so all of the divisions are busy delivering their much needed programs to the people of their city. And the real estate just happens to sit there. And so in Toronto, we took we created a new agency which is ours, to look at that real estate much more strategically with a view to unlocking it. We’ve talked a lot about housing, but we also have as a an important mandate to ensure that we are building complete communities so that we are co-locating community centers with libraries, with daycares and with housing so that we can optimize the use of that real estate. And so I think a dedicated agency like ours or or other vehicles that are just absolutely purpose built to zone the land, to come up with solutions strategically, to sit at the intersection of the public and the private and the not for profit sector to really enable it. And when I talk about alignment, I really talk about it from a firsthand perspective because we see we sit with CMHC, we see sometimes the delays in the approval or the lack of alignment, the linear ness with which everything happens, if that’s a real word, linear ness. But, you know, it’s a it’s a sequential thing instead of things happening, you know, in parallel. And so.
Mary W Rowe I mean, I you know, I hear you, and I know both of you are very sophisticated guys, but nobody really cares, you know, like they just want shit to happen.
Vic Gupta That’s right. Absolutely.
Mary W Rowe So I feel like we’re kind of … Do you know what I mean? Sorry. Like, do you agree with me? Like, people are just right? Like, we just want stuff to happen. And we seem to be at a point in time where we understand we got to make it happen. Donnie and then Graham.
Donnie Rosa I was just going to say that Squamish Nation went to court to earn their own land, earn their own stolen village back and now are developing it and they can develop, develop it faster than the city can. They’re building 6000. We’re building the I’m with them 6000 units, 250 will be Squamish Nation members. The rest will be market value for the community to meet a need in the community. They got a sliver of their land back and still the local community took them to another court to fight to say, Well, you can’t develop it now, you can’t develop it like you want to. And so maybe that’s why it’s taking so long.
Mary W Rowe Yeah, Graham …
Graham Singh I have a terrible answer, mary That’s going to need some wine.
Mary W Rowe Yeah, but that’s coming all right.
Graham Singh I think we got our theology wrong.
Mary W Rowe Okay?
Graham Singh I think we misunderstand how we are as human beings and creation living in this planet with each other. And when we look at religious groups like Christians and I’m saying this as a priest in the Anglican Church for over 20 years, I currently lead one of the old. Historic colonial churches in downtown Montreal. Christians have gotten it very wrong with colonial land control. In the Jewish faith. There answers like Jubilee that says land needs to go back to its original communities every 50 years. In Islam, the concept of zakat is a healing concept, which is right there on offer for us in our faith communities. We have possible answers. But I think we’re sitting here in Canada now realizing how much we have walked across the views of the first peoples in this land. They have answers that are there for us. And I really think when we look at how badly we’ve gotten land wrong, it’s the whole colonial story, it’s the whole Western story. And it does have to do with our core beliefs. And if we start looking back at those and find things like the core of ESG and the core of and we see all of these renewal movements, they’re that deep. And if we allow ourselves to go to that place, I think we’re going to find healing.
Mary W Rowe Joy …
Carolyn Whitzman Can I be a very naughty moderator and just jump in?
Mary W Rowe And Joy is waiting, too.
Carolyn Whitzman Okay. Sorry. Go ahead. I just want to bring up neoliberalism because Canada has done great things before with its own land, with acquired land after World War Two, building almost a million victory houses in a in a mechanized quick fashion in, you know, as little as 36 hours. And from the sixties to the eighties, we use government land in ways. For instance, in St Lawrence neighborhood in Toronto that built 4000 homes on industrial land, a third public, a third co-op, a third market. I’m not saying that the market doesn’t have solutions, but I think that governments started believing that the purpose of their land was to generate profit for market developers and that while I completely agree it’s colonialism, we can’t overlook that economic force and frankly look forward to the point where we can move on from a series of beliefs that simply has put us in a terrible mess.
Mary W Rowe Joy …
Joy Cramer I just want to comment on the land issue. So in Winnipeg, in Manitoba, about ten years ago, the Crown lands owes or the federal government owes approximately 400,000 hectares of land to first nations under treaty land entitlement, which is, I call it another way of saying stolen lands. So part of that process is called daily treaty land entitlement. And in downtown, not downtown, but in Winnipeg you have Kapyong Barracks, which is a former military site. It took 17 years for First Nations Treaty one. My mom is a member of Sandy Bay. My dad is a member of Sagkeeng. Both Treaty One signatories 17 years to fight the federal government to get 59 acres of land in Winnipeg to develop. And so there is a long process to access land in Canada lands. Stéphan will know all about that. But if you looked at treaty, land, entitlement and B.C. has a different situation. But had we not fought for Kapyong, Jericho Lands likely would not have gone to the B.C. First Nations because they would have already had the policy in place to not give the military land, to not give but pay back to the First Nations. And I say this really quickly if we’re a reserve here today, back when this treaty was signed and they said 165 acres per family, they only provided enough land on the reserve for half of this room. The other half, they didn’t bother. That’s what treaty land entitlement is. Is the First Nations finally saying, you know what, we’re going to take you to court because you always still have this land, have for for this peace. And that’s what we’re fighting for. Still to this day, 400,000 hectares, you can Google it. And so when you talk about what how long, why does it take so long? We’re not getting a hand up. We’re not even getting a handout. We’re getting nothing. So we fight for everything and the legal costs to fight 17 years, the federal government to get 59 acres of land. I leave it at that.
Mary W Rowe Go ahead. Or do you want me? You want me? I’m happy to pass to you for your wrap up.
Carolyn Whitzman Oh.
Mary W Rowe You can wrap up. Or I can help.
Carolyn Whitzman You wrap up. Honey, it’s your day.
Mary W Rowe I’ll wrap up. Okay, honey. Same to you, honey. So, you know, none of this is easy, obviously. And I appreciate people’s patients. You guys get to sit here while I do the. Thanks. Stefan, you’re going to listen to me. Do the thanks for the whole day. Thank you. Thank you to you for your patience. And I think to start the morning, as we did with grandmother Irene, calling in the ancestors and the elders and making us grounding ourselves in place. And then repeatedly through the day, the themes of place, agency and attachment belonging, how do we actually connect to one another? How does community function? What kinds of opportunities are we making possible for each other? I just I’ve got to say how grateful I am for the goodwill in this room and online for us to be in a collective conversation like this, particularly, as I said at the beginning, at a time of great global turmoil, it’s very reassuring for me to just sit and be with all of you and hear about how we’re all struggling and trying to figure out what our next collective step is. So I want to thank you all for coming and being part of that and for being part of this first step in a conversation which isn’t going. I know we want things to move quickly. 17 years is a long time, Joy, but we need to make incremental steps together. And so I want to just say that at the outset how important that’s been to us and for us at c Y to see this come to fruition. And I need to read to you all the sponsors. I’m going to read them really quickly and I’m going to ask you to stand if you’re affiliated with these sponsors, because it just demonstrates how I mean, some on this stage we’ll have to stand how wide this tent needs to be, and it can we need to continue to be. So the sponsors for this, all the staff of the Canadian Urban Institute, we’re a mighty little band. Could you stand up all the students who work for the Canadian with the Urban Institute, all the interns they work with, the Urban Institute, all the senior fellows that work, all the associates that work, and all the board that works for the board. There’s a few board members here and there are you can you stand or are you too scared? Too tired? Dissenters understand. Then we’ve got the School of Cities. If you’re from the University of Toronto School of Cities, could you stand RBC? Could you send the Toronto waterfront via the Downtown Young Ballet, the Trottier Foundation, South Revere, Montreal, Cadillac, Fairview, the city of Toronto, Acobia … Don’t Be Shy. The Ottawa BIA’s. Toronto Downtown West BIA, Enbridge, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation. You see, it’s a lot of people. Canada Land, Stéphan, he’s standing wherever he is. City of Ottawa and Environics, next Generation Cities Institute, downtown Vancouver … see what I mean, it’s a lot of folks, the National Capital Commission, Trinity Centers, that’s you send up, the Suncor Energy Foundation, Centertown BIA, Spark Street BIA, in the mall authority, Zac Vanier BIA, Downtown Rideau. It’s a lot of groups, the Canadian Global Cities Council, that’s all the chambers of commerce of the large cities across the country. They’re in the University of Windsor. Where is the Windsor table, that little disruptive group of you, the University of Windsor, a small city center, the Urban Land Institute. Richard, are you still there? There is the University of Calgary, the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, ICLY – where are my pals from ICLY, they’re right there. Evergreen, is Jen still here? And Martin … Downtown Winnipeg Biz, Shorefast, I don’t know whether you’re still here, Concordia, Downtown Calgary and then what you all have been waiting for… The reception has been sponsored by the National Capital Commission and The City of Ottawa, and they are here. And thank you for buying us a drink. The drink tickets, always important where the drink tickets are. Where are they? Laura. Laura has them. Laura has them. Oh, well, they’re coming to you. Here’s the deal. You return your headset and you get a drink ticket. All right. I guess we really don’t want those headsets going into the bathroom with you. Or onto the LRT where they might never come off. And I just want to say how appreciative I am that we took the risk to come and do this in Ottawa. I think it was really important that the first time we try this, we do it here. And so thanks to all the folks in Ottawa for welcoming us in and helping make it happen. And to all of you for coming. And I hope next year, if we do, if there is a next year or the next time we do it, if we come back to Ottawa, let’s double the room. Let’s make sure we have more diversity. Let’s make sure we have more representation because it’s such a rich conversation. And I know you’re all going to go home tonight and you’re going to send people little notes and say, I was so glad to meet you. And and you’re going to remind others as the next few weeks roll by and we get all this mounted online to go and watch it, because I think there’s lots and lots of value that will take a long time for us to digest. Today, we released this little effective doorstop. This is at the crossroads. Maximizing the possibilities. Many of you are in it. It’s lovely. It’s it’s it’s not a consensus document. It’s not even really a collaborative document. It is a strong provocation from a lot of smart folks who are in the trenches doing real work and making real differences to their communities. And that’s what we’re so appreciative of. That’s what this great work they were all engaged in is making the connection between people and places. And possibility. I wouldn’t want to leave you without quoting Jane Jacobs … it’s my own little paraphrase – last chapter of Death and Life in great American cities, “The Kind of Problem a City Is” … My paraphrase of that is – problems in the city, is work that still needs doing. So let’s get busy. Thanks for coming. Have a drink. Thank you very much, everybody.