Imagine packing up your home, moving your family to a place you’ve never been and immigrating to a new country during a global pandemic. The place itself would have to be as audacious and breathtaking as the challenge. Located alongside the ocean and nestled between stunning mountains, Vancouver, Canada, has continuously been voted one of the world’s most beautiful and liveable cities. And for the last year, this amazing place has been my home.
Vancouver is situated on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Many things make Vancouver aspirational, but embracing reconciliation tops the list. It’s evident not only in the renaming of public spaces and the inclusion of indigenous art woven throughout the fabric of the city but it’s also evident in equitable and cooperative developments like Sen̓áḵw, a project led by the Squamish Nation that will produce 6000 homes on a 12-acre site near downtown.
Sen̓áḵw will be one of Vancouver’s 23 neighbourhoods connected to downtown via a network of bike lanes over 450 kilometres long, globally ranking as the 18th most bike-friendly city in the world. As I push a stroller across the Burrard Street Bridge on weekends or carry groceries on my walk home during the week, I’m as inspired by the visible and audible diversity of my neighbourhood, and the connectivity between the people who live here, as I am inspired by its walkability. Forty-two percent of Greater Vancouver’s population is made up of visible minorities, with over 200 ethnic groups represented. And no matter the language, Vancouverites speak with determination about leaving the land better than we’ve found it for the next generation of families to enjoy. In addition, the city’s bullish initiatives toward recycling and cleanliness have ranked Vancouver as the greenest city in the world.
There are times during the year when the weather would allow you to start the morning snowboarding on Grouse Mountain and end the evening with your feet in the sand at Sunset Beach. But my best days are spent walking the streets of downtown in a fresh pair of sneakers, appreciating the city’s unique skyline of mixed high-rise buildings and low-level structures from the 28km Seawall that encircles Stanley Park and the downtown core. The future of Vancouverism, the renowned urban development form, is evolving alongside the emerging challenges, uncertainties, opportunities and innovation taking place within our 90-block downtown. This is where I’m most at home.
As an organization, the DVBIA is dedicated to creating inclusive and magnetic activations, ensuring our streets are clean and safe, and constantly thinking of what can be for our city. For the 2022 conference, we’ve joined forces with IDA to bring you insightful conference tours, inspiring Master Talks, and creative and educational breakout sessions. We look forward to an event that will not only be shaped by our amazing setting here in Vancouver but by the sharing of ideas from the unique places represented by leaders in attendance from around the world. Collectively and inclusively – the Vancouver way – we will continue the work of reinventing the communities of tomorrow.