New Westminster, B.C. – The City of New Westminster has been awarded the 2023 Gold Award for Excellence in Planning Practice – City & Urban Areas from the Planning Institute of British Columbia (PIBC) for its Community Action Network (CAN) Leadership Training Program. Through an innovative partnership with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, people with lived and living experience are engaged in planning and policy development.
The CAN Leadership Training Program has had two intakes since it was initiated in 2019. Each intake involves 10 participants with lived and living experience of disability, homelessness, poverty, settlement, and more. Participants attend training sessions on topics such as advocacy, committee functioning, and community organizing. Program graduates go on to participate in City planning and policy development as subject matter experts.
“The CAN Leadership Training Program meaningfully engages people with lived and living experience, enabling them to share their unique perspectives so we can ensure the City of New Westminster’s plans, policies, programs, and services are reflective of, and responsive to, all community members,” said Mayor Patrick Johnstone. “Congratulations to our Planning staff and the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition on winning PIBC’s excellence award.”
CAN graduates have been instrumental in the development of the City’s Homelessness Action Strategy, endorsed by Council in 2022, and the recent establishment of the New West Community and Resource Team (CaRT), which assists vulnerable community members and advocates for their diverse needs. Graduates have also informed 11 other City initiatives and been members of three City committees and task forces.
“CAN graduates have expressed their appreciation for how the program taught them to advocate for their unique needs. In turn, they feel heard by City planners and respected as a contributing member of our community,” said Jackie Teed, Acting Director of Climate Action, Planning and Development.
The PIBC Gold Award for Excellence in Planning Practice in City and Urban Areas recognizes strategies and plans that envision planning solutions to enhance the social, economic, environmental and/or cultural wellbeing of communities. A complete list of all 2023 award winners can be found on PIBC’s website: pibc.bc.ca/winners-excellence-planning
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