Innovative partnership to engage Burnaby community in Climate Action

Last updated: October 8, 2021

The City of Burnaby has partnered with the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and Vancity to launch an innovative project, the Urban Resilient Futures Initiative, which aims to overcome barriers to climate action by engaging the community to create a shared vision and set of priorities that accelerate Burnaby’s course towards a zero-carbon future.

“We’re at a point in our history when we all need to pull together,” said Mayor Mike Hurley. “This is about tapping into the energy and passion of our community for positive action, and also about making sure that we hear everyone’s voice as we develop neighbourhood-level solutions to climate change.”

Urban Resilient Futures is a three-year initiative comprised of four key elements:

  • Zero-Emission Building Retrofit Task Force – Buildings account for approximately 50% of carbon emissions in Burnaby. The task force will bring together commercial and industrial property owners, government representatives, technical experts and local homeowners to develop quick starts and recommendations for the City’s Zero-Emission Building Retrofit Strategy. The task force is expected to deliver recommendations in early 2022.
  • Neighbourhood Climate Action Projects and Awareness Campaign –This will involve fostering neighbourhood-level climate action projects, led by local groups and facilitated through partnership with schools, religious institutions, libraries and services clubs. Community pilot projects are expected to begin in 2022.
  • Citizens’ Assembly - An independent group of Burnaby residents will gather and make recommendations on the City’s upcoming update to the Official Community Plan (OCP). This assembly will be representative of the city’s diverse population, with members selected through a civic lottery process. The assembly is expected to deliver feedback on the OCP in late 2023.
  • Participatory Governance – Throughout the Urban Resilient Futures Initiative, the aim will be to engage with underrepresented people, including First Nations, and pioneer new systems and processes to create more equity in community discussion. Findings will be delivered to the City in the form of a report to council at the conclusion of the program.

This Urban Resilient Futures Initiative will incorporate similar deliberative processes as the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing, which convened in Burnaby in 2019 and has since accelerated action on housing affordability and led to nation-leading policy changes. Once complete, the Urban Resilient Futures model will serve as an example to municipal governments across Canada on how to engage and motivate residents to take an active role in combating climate change.

“Burnaby residents are increasingly confronting the impacts of climate change in their daily lives and have a critical role to play in co-creating solutions,” said Robin Prest, Program Director, Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. “The City of Burnaby is a leader in democratic engagement, and we are very pleased to partner with Burnaby and Vancity to find new pathways forward that reduce emissions and protect vulnerable populations.”

“Vancity has set a commitment to be net-zero by 2040 and as a credit union, our role is to make climate action affordable and accessible,” said Jonathan Fowlie, Chief External Relations Officer, Vancity. “Engagement and participation are vital tools for creating and implementing climate action in ways that account for unique community experiences and needs, and we look forward to collaborating on this project.”

This initiative will be funded through a $350,000 seed grant from the Aqueduct Foundation, as well as cash and in-kind contributions from the project partners. The initiative is slated to begin in fall 2021 and finish in spring 2024.

Media Contacts:

Chris Bryan
Communications Manager | City of Burnaby
604-570-3616 | [email protected]

Stephanie Hall
Communications Manager | Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue
604-842-8095 | [email protected]

Nora Eastwood
[email protected]

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