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CanU 2020: Forum

(in collaboration with UBC/SALA, MODUS and Urbanarium) 
The final events in the STEP UP SERIES build on the ‘big ideas’ explored in the four Conversations. With insights and contributions from our guest urbanists and attendees, the goal is to transform these ideas into ‘big steps’, those actions for change that can affect more socially resilient city-building. This is especially relevant as Vancouver advances a city wide plan over the next two years. NB: CanU has committed to an online format for the entire STEP UP Series. While assembly in BC may be possible in October, this decision is in keeping with the idea of resilience and of the Series. 

Series Outline:

Mon Oct 26 – 3pm ET   C2C2C

Curious about resilience across Canada? Be part of the C2C2C event – an annual favourite! Six city-builders will share innovative examples of community resilience from across the country.  With moderator, Gordon Harris, they’ll explore how private and public investments  can be prioritized to realize these projects, especially as people seek to make permanent those temporary urban innovations that have made pandemic living a little easier to bear. From Victoria to Iqaluit to Halifax, hear from decision-makers how they affect meaningful urbanism. 


Lisa Helps - Mayor, Victoria BC, Jyoti Gondek – Councillor, Calgary AB, Madelaine Redfern – Ajungi Group & former Mayor, Iqaluit, NU, Alex Spiegel – Windmill Development, Toronto ON, Renée Daoust – Daoust Lestage inc., Montréal, QC and Gordon Smith – Provincial Director of Planning, Halifax, NS


Tues Oct 27 – 3pm ET   City Circle

Interested in bold city plans? Join our City Circle moderator, Khelsilem, and Circle guests involved in city-wide plans around the world, as they explore the bold steps their cities are taking to design neighbourhoods that better support community resilience – ie: cohesive, connected, mutually-supportive communities.  Hosted by Urbanarium, this is a golden opportunity to reach beyond conventional city-shaping to a deeper, more place-based approach with the following special guests: 


Kalen Anderson - Office of the City Plan, Edmonton, AB, Evelina Hafvenstein-Säteri – Senior Urban Designer, Stockholm Plan, Stockholm, Sweden, Olivia Haddon - Māori Design at Auckland Council, NZ, Alain Miguelez – Manager, Policy Planning, City of Ottawa, ON and Gil Kelley - GM of Planning, Urban Design & Sustainability, City of Vancouver


Thurs Oct 29 – 12pm ET  Roundtable

Want to make a difference? Your voice is critical to the Forum’s concluding event. Facilitated by Robert Barrs and Joyce Drohan, the Roundtable builds on the ‘big ideas’ from the Conversations, C2C2C and City Circle events. Come and collaborate with fellow Canadian urbanists in small group settings to recommend ‘bold steps’ that cities can take for designing resilient communities.

Hosted by MODUS, a team seasoned in engagement and urban design, this is a highly interactive event with discussions supported by hosts, co-hosts and illustrators, all seasoned urbanists. The idea is a dynamic open exchange to raise the bar on equitable access for all to Nature, Housing, Mobility and Daily needs in the design of communities. With your help, CanU intends to publish a BOLD STEPS action plan following the Forum. 

Virtual Tours
CanU 2020 Virtual Tours: Vancouver 
Each year, the CanU host city offers a number of tours to give attendees an on-the-ground experience of the evolving urban environment.  This year, with the help of Vancouver videographer & CBC contributor, Uytae Lee, you have the chance to ‘walk’ Vancouver with four local hosts.

The Legacy Tours  
These tours showcase two of the communities that have been central to Vancouver’s reputation for livability. Downtown South and the Olympic Village are both master-planned communities that transformed industrial waterfront properties on False Creek. Both are the result of effective collaboration between the City and the design and development community. 

Downtown South 
Join Larry Beasley as he guides a walk through the Downtown South neighbourhood - the high density mixed use neighbourhood that took earlier successes of Vancouver’s innovative South False Creek community to a new level of urban living. A resident himself, Beasley offers both a professional and personal perspective of the many attributes and some of the missed opportunities in this now mature neighbourhood. 

Olympic Village

Walk the Olympic Village with Scot Hein, the former Senior Urban Designer at the City of Vancouver who played a pivotal role in the visioning, design and delivery of this unique neighbourhood.  Listen in as he describes the people and processes that helped to realize this community. And see the many urban design and sustainability strategies that were introduced to create this LEED Platinum Development. 

The Olympic Village Tour is sponsored by:



Neighbourhood Sketches

This year CanU asks two young urbanism voices to share personal observations on Vancouver neighbourhoods with which they have a special bond. 


Mount Pleasant

Take a stroll with Alicia Medina, architect & entrepreneur, as she shares her insights on an inner-city industrial area rapidly & organically transforming into a unique new district.  Living and working in this neighbourhood, Medina offers a close-up of the eclectic uses, original housing stock and contemporary businesses being woven into the industrial fabric. 



Meet up with Chris Cheung, urban affairs journalist for the Tyee, a community paper, as he shares his observations on Chinatown. Through personal experiences he offers observations on what aging in place means to the long time residents of this older inner-city neighbourhood. See the  rich street life, the older but flexible multi-family housing stock and other urban amenities that support life in a naturally-occurring retirement community (NORC).