Mike Harcourt on the Urban Futures Survey

Mike Harcourt—former mayor of Vancouver, former B.C. premier and Chair of PlaceSpeak’s Board of Directors—spoke to City of North Vancouver council on November 14, 2011 to ask for support for the Urban Future Survey. Here is a video of Mike’s introductory remarks at the Council meeting:



I’m here to talk about a snapshot of the region. It started with Colleen’s father Walter Hardwick in the 1970’s when we first got the Livable Regions Strategy going.  The Urban Futures was first put together by Dr. Hardwick who was, of course, a very famous and renounced urban geographer at UBC who did the first Urban Futures project in 1973. That provided the information we needed from citizens to help put in place the first de-facto livable regions strategy.

The technology and techniques at the time were pretty straightforward. It was trying to talk to people which you do in those days and they answered their door and they actually talked to you. [The survey] was updated in 1990 when then mayor Gordon Campbell had Ken Cameron who was director of planning for what we then called the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), go forth and gather the opinions of people of the region on what they like, what they didn’t like what they would like to see changed as part of becoming one of the most livable regions in the world. That was published in 1991 and led to the Growth Strategies act that we introduced as government. [The legislation] legitimized a different role, a more collegial role between the provinces and municipalities. It was more of a partnership, rather than ‘creatures of the provinces’ as some people think the municipalities are.

We’re here today to say that it’s time to update with the third 20 year look at the region and engage citizens and use modern technology. We are going to get a demonstration by Colleen of PlaceSpeak, which is an extraordinary new tool that came from her work with her father and from her mind. Ken and I were entranced by this way of engaging citizens in the comfort of their own homes and using the internet without having to go to public hearings which sometime get pretty polarized; or to be reached by the usual surveying methods which is very hard to do—it’s very hard to show that these are the actual people that are at the address. So I wanted to be here to say we’re quite excited about this new approach to engaging citizens. We think it’s going to change and open up opportunities for people to participate more effectively in our democracy.

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