The Mayor’s Engaged City Task Force released its final report today, outlining ways that Vancouver City Hall can improve voter turnout, enhance consultation, and better engage with newcomers and new immigrants across the city. It also includes suggestions for what Vancouver residents can do to make Vancouver a more engaged city.
“The final report from the Engaged City Task Force provides a roadmap for enhancing civic involvement in Vancouver, covering everything from voter turnout to reaching out to new immigrants,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Being a truly engaged city is a worthy goal, and I want to thank the Task Force for their efforts to research and recommend ways that Vancouver can achieve that goal.
“As Mayor, I’ve heard the concerns people have raised over how City Hall engages with residents. There’s no question we can do better. That’s why we’re pursuing new initiatives, like a Citizens’ Assembly in Grandview Woodland, to empower neighbourhoods in the planning process. It’s just one example of how we can build a stronger, more engaged city.”
The Task Force is comprised of 22 members from a diversity of backgrounds, ages, and neighbourhoods in Vancouver, with extensive experience in civic engagement and community involvement. Task Force spokespeople Lyndsay Poaps and Dennis Chan say that with the final report complete, the work of the Task Force is not the end, but just the beginning.
“Building knowledge, capacity, trust and power is an ongoing process – one that everyone, City Hall and Vancouver residents in every neighbourhood, play a part in,” they said. “Our recommendations shouldn’t be viewed in isolation, but rather as working together to build momentum towards a stronger culture of participation and engagement in Vancouver.”
The 19 Priority Actions recommended by the Task Force include:
- Pilot a neighbourhood liaison position to assist communities with a high proportion of newcomers and new immigrants, to help familiarize them with city programs;
- Create a Charter of Roles, Rights and Responsibilities for the Planning Process, so that all stakeholders clearly know what is expected of them;
- Develop an aggressive strategy to increase voter registration, including partnering with post-secondary institutions to increase awareness to first-time voters;
- Increase promotion of 3-1-1, with a focus on non-English-speaking communities.
The Task Force also proposed six “Recommended Ideas” for community action. These are steps that residents can take on themselves to make Vancouver a more inclusive, engaged city. These include:
- Encouraging restaurants to support long-table dinners and conversation tables where strangers can come together to share meals, such as Alfresco;
- Neighbourhoods hosting Winter Potlucks, which would provide neighbourhood gathering opportunities outside of block party events in the summer.
“This isn’t just about how City Hall interacts with the public, but how residents can connect with one another and make their neighbourhoods better places to live,” added the Mayor. “Civic engagement matters because as a City, we cannot grapple with tough challenges like affordability, inequality or climate change with an isolated, disengaged population. I look forward to the Task Force presenting their report to City Council in the weeks ahead.”
The Task Force has committed to providing the report at least six weeks before it will be presented to City Council for its consideration, with a tentative date of mid-March. Members of the public who are interested in providing feedback can email their comments firstname.lastname@example.org or come speak to City Council when it is presented.
The report can be viewed here:
Image by Nima Zadrafi from The Glass Eye.