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Burnaby's task force on housing crisis earns honour for engagement efforts

The City of Burnaby’s engagement efforts on the housing crisis has earned honours from an international group.
city hall burnaby
Burnaby city hall.

The City of Burnaby’s engagement efforts on the housing crisis has earned honours from an international group.

The International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Canada has named Burnaby’s “Your Voice - Your Home: Meeting the Housing Needs of Burnaby Residents” as a runner-up for “Creativity, Contribution and Innovation in the Field” at the 2020 IAP2 Canada Core Values Awards.

The awards, presented in a virtual celebration via Zoom, recognize the “highest achievements in the field of Public Participation, which is founded on the principle that people affected by a decision have the right to be consulted on the decision and to know how their input affected the outcome,” said a news release.

Housing prices in Metro Vancouver are considered the second-most unaffordable in Canada, and one-in-five Burnaby households is facing overcrowding, poor upkeep, or unaffordable costs, said IAP2.

This project, a partnership of the City of Burnaby and the Morris J, Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University, was a six-month undertaking, involving the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing. The over-arching question was simple: “What are the housing experiences and needs of Burnaby residents and what are their recommendations in terms of housing policies and programs?”

To help with the answer, more than 2,600 residents took part, either in-person or online - the largest engagement in Burnaby’s history - and 42 resident recommendations were brought forward, which directly informed the Task Force’s final report.

Core Values Awards judges found the project was an “Exemplary demonstration of integrating community engagement and decision-making through a process that effectively deepened mutual understanding of the needs and aspirations of multiple stakeholders.” The commitment to consensus was also a factor in the judges’ deliberations.

"Mayor Mike Hurley and the City of Burnaby embarked on one of the most comprehensive engagement processes on community housing that we have ever seen," said Centre for Dialogue executive director and task force lead facilitator Shauna Sylvester. "We are delighted to see this process recognized with an IAP2 Core Values Award. The design of the process was innovative and engaged stakeholders and citizens in unprecedented ways and it was grounded in the needs of people of Burnaby, not the physical infrastructure. Burnaby took a risk and has now provided a model for other municipalities to emulate.”

“The Your Voice. Your Home. process was a key part of the Mayor’s Task Force on Community Housing, which will shape Burnaby’s approach to community housing for years to come,” said Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley, in a news release. “Together with SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, we created an inclusive process which ensured our actions will address the needs of everyone in our community.”

A video describing the project can be seen at