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YouthfulCities: City builders in Halifax explore themes like activism and social enterprises

Written by

Alfred Burgesson

Earlier this year, YouthfulCities launched the first ever public national comparable urban index in Canada. The index measures and ranks a city’s youthful infrastructure and provides hard data to start the conversation towards a more youthful urban future. The Canadian Index Report ranks 13 Canadian cities, explores 121 indicators, a scale of 20 attributes, and 3 themes: live, work and play.

Recently, NATIONAL Atlantic had an opportunity to host a panel discussion in Halifax led by founder of the YouthfulCities Index, Robert Barnard. As an intern at NATIONAL, I was honoured to participate in the panel discussion along with three other city builders:

Lauren Sears, Common Good Solutions and Placemaking 4G

Jeffry Haggett, FBM Architecture & Design

Leanne Tremblay, Fusion Halifax

Panel YouthfulCities Index Panel Discussion in Halifax, moderated by Robert Barnard. Panel (left to right): Alfred Burgesson, Leanne Tremblay, Lauren Sears and Jeffry Haggett.

The subject of creating youthful cities is close to my own personal academic, volunteer and professional pursuits. It was exciting to bring together a group of partners, city planners, government officials, entrepreneurs, young professionals and recent graduates to share thoughts on the topic.

The conversation brought diverse perspectives to the forefront, exploring key themes such as the importance of activism, social enterprises, the creative industries, people driven urban design, and government relations. Halifax, like many other Canadian cities, is faced with the opportunity of creating forums and spaces for young people to pursue their passions and thrive in community.

For me, some of the highlights/key points from each of the speakers were:

Disruption is necessary.

Jeffry Haggett, “People are coming here with their ideas – we can become a creatively disruptive city and be a cool place to live.”

We know that Canada has an increasing number of immigrants from Asia (including the Middle East), Africa and Europe—that bring skills and perspectives beneficial to our culture and labour force. Engaging with communities and fostering active citizens can boost our economy and generate new cultural experiences for many.

Empower communities through collaboration.

Leanne Tremblay, “We must empower each other and find more ways to collaborate in community.”

Creating hubs (through culture, sciences, technology, general services) and providing resources for people to incubate ideas of their own could enable us to learn more about the future skills and opportunities in the labour market. Organizations that foster service, space and leadership must continue to innovate on programs and offerings to better engage with citizens.

Create sustainable communities.

Lauren Sears, “Social enterprises are a new way of doing business, and a channel for attracting and retaining young talent in Atlantic Canada.”

We are often told to invest in our future—well, youth are the future. So, how do we teach the generations after us to be socially responsible?

It’s been said that a rising tide lifts all. And it’s important we consider strengthening intergenerational connections and foster the growth of balanced, and complete, communities.

——— Written by Alfred Burgesson, former Intern, NATIONAL Public Relations

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