Vancouver (Canada) is a known leader in integrated planning practices for environmental sustainability coupled with creative contemporary planning and design. Its culturally-diverse population is also a key component of the city’s governance and culture-based strategies. None of the city’s main ethnic groups (Chinese, English, French, Filipino, German, Indian, Irish, Scottish) represent more than 25% of the population. As the majority of the population has a mother tongue other than English, the city addresses planning issues with key documents made available in languages, such as Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, Vietnamese, Spanish and French, and multilingual phone lines.
Addressing inclusion within the city’s culturally-diverse population underpins several of the city’s strategies. Vancouver’s ‘Diverse communities and multiculturalism’ activities form part of the Building Liveable, Sustainable and Inclusive Communities programme, and provide support to newcomers in adapting to local communities and finding work relevant to their skills. Specific initiatives provide LGBTQ support, and tackle racism, discrimination and bullying. The programme also supports a ‘Dialogues’ project to increase understanding and strengthen relations between indigenous and immigrant/non-indigenous communities.
Overlapping jurisdictions with provincial and federal governments have presented complications in implementing multicultural initiatives at municipal level, and non-profit organizations have been particularly instrumental in spearheading new ventures, working across sectors and disciplines. The non-profit Mole Hill Community Housing Society, for instance, has been active in leading initiatives to preserve and make available affordable housing in one of Vancouver's oldest residential districts. The key goals of these activities are to strengthen cultural diversity, environmental sustainability and economic viability through upgrading older housing stock using environmentally-sensitive practices for original tenants and other low-income residents and seniors.
The success of Vancouver as a magnet city for both internal and external migration has resulted in steep real estate prices and a lack of affordable housing in the city centre. These remain key challenges for the city.
Source: School of Restoration Arts at Willowbank, report for Study Area 7