Building on the Resilient Cities: Post COVID-19 series, we gathered online to explore the quick solutions and long-term fixes required to make cities more resilient and equitable for all. Future Cities Canada was joined by Eleanor Mohammed, the President of the Canadian Institute of Planners, Lanrick Bennet Jr., the Managing Director for 880 Cities, and Jean-Noé Landry, the Executive Director of Open North for an inspiring conversation on ways to strengthen our communities and seize the opportunities presented by this crisis.
Here’s what we heard:
Looking to the future of city building with a ‘people-first’ approach
All speakers highlighted the importance of putting residents and their needs at the centre of decision making. Measures such as protective cycling infrastructure or widened sidewalks demonstrate the opportunity that inclusive decision-making presents to build truly equitable, accessible and inclusive communities.
Jean-Noé highlighted the possibility of decision-making with the residents’ wellbeing as a priority that has been seen in government action from coast to coast.
Policy, program & service design for true equity and inclusivity
From changing governance structures and removing barriers to increasing representation of BIPOC across all sectors – our three speakers shared a panoply of ways to initiate change that will make governance and decision-making more equitable and thereby, communities designed to be inclusive for all.
Lanrick shared the importance of engagement and dialogue at a local level first, and highlighted this podcast highlighting why local change matters to our municipal democracy.
COVID-19 pivots, programs and improvements that should stick
This crisis forced change, spurred innovation and, in many instances, improved delivery of service. Across Canada we’re seeing businesses now prioritizing the health of senior and immunocompromised residents with dedicated shopping hours, residents being able to access deputations at City Hall digitally and overall, online services have improved as businesses were forced to cater to new demands.
Jean-Noé pointed out something that many have know for a while, but that has been made evident as the world was forced inside and online – the importance of high-speed, reliable internet.
This is something we discussed in an episode of the Future Fix, take a listen here.
Eleanor also pointed out the inclusivity that online engagement allows for communities – and how this is something that should continue even when gathering is permitted for more inclusive decision-making.
And the ones that shouldn’t…
Some innovations of the past aren’t conducive to public safety, mobility or effective decision-making. Whether it be the design of streets and parks, or how services are delivered and funded – there is change required to build cities that are equitable, inclusive and safe for all.
Lanrick discussed two topics that have been widely discussed – mobility and public safety.
The role of data & tech in building equitable, resilient cities
Data and technology could inform much of the necessary changes to current programs, policies and services, thereby making their role prominent in the recovery. Lanrick shared an important consideration for city-builders to build trust within communities with transparency and make services better in the long run.
Jean-Noé also mentions something important to consider as we harness data and technology to recover.