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Sea2City Design Challenge: Pioneering Coastal Planning through Innovation and Inclusivity

15 Jan 2024 4:12 PM | Anonymous

The Sea2City Design Challenge, an ambitious and groundbreaking initiative led by the City of Vancouver, has made waves in the world of coastal planning and design. Over the course of 12 months, this collaborative effort tackled pressing issues such as rising sea levels, ecological revitalization, urban development, decolonization, and reconciliation with Host Nations, with a specific focus on Vancouver's False Creek shoreline. In 2023, the project received two prestigious awards: the IAP2 Canada Indigenous Engagement Award and the IAP2 International Project of the Year Award. Let's dive deeper into the success story of the Sea2City Design Challenge and what made it so remarkable.

Inclusivity as the Cornerstone

At the heart of the Sea2City Design Challenge's success was its inclusive approach. The project brought together a diverse range of stakeholders, including multi-disciplinary design teams, government representatives, coastal adaptation experts, and Indigenous knowledge keepers and designers. Their collective effort was pivotal in addressing the multifaceted challenges and objectives set forth by the project.

Community Engagement: A Vital Component

Public engagement played a pivotal role in the project's success. The team behind the Sea2City Design Challenge undertook extensive efforts to raise awareness about sea level rise and adaptation strategies, gather stakeholder feedback, and establish lasting relationships with community partners. What set this project apart was its commitment to co-developing project design and public engagement programming with Host Nation government representatives, ensuring a holistic and inclusive approach.

A Diverse Array of Engagement Activities

The engagement activities were both extensive and varied. They included public learning and design sessions, decolonization workshops, interdisciplinary workshops, and reflection sessions with advisory groups and the design teams. The project's innovative nature was further highlighted through collaborations with artists, theatre groups, photographers, youth choirs, Indigenous thought leaders, environmental organizations, and youth. This diversity enriched the public engagement program and ensured that all voices were heard.

Three Major Achievements

The Sea2City Design Challenge achieved three significant outcomes. Firstly, it disrupted the language of coastal planning by recognizing the inseparable connection between land and water. Secondly, it created a forward-looking and positive vision for the False Creek shoreline, where Indigenous voices, values, and aspirations stood alongside community needs. Finally, it resulted in implementable site concepts and pilot projects, refined through public input, introducing novel, decolonized ideas unprecedented in Canadian urban contexts.

Key Learnings

The engagement strategy of the project also yielded three key learnings. Firstly, the involvement and guidance of Host Nation representatives and cultural advisors were crucial. Secondly, the engagement of youth and the arts community was vital, recognizing the disproportionate impact of climate change on younger generations. Lastly, the project underscored the importance of collaboration and mainstreaming for effective coastal adaptation, calling for interdisciplinary collaboration and integration across various city departments, programs, policies, and plans.

A New Standard in Coastal Planning

The Sea2City Design Challenge stands as a testament to the power of innovative and inclusive approaches in coastal planning. By incorporating diverse perspectives, Indigenous knowledge, and community engagement, it has not only reimagined Vancouver's shoreline but also set a new standard for addressing the complex challenges of sea level rise and urban development.

The project's vision and methodology will undoubtedly influence future urban development and ecological revitalization efforts in the False Creek floodplain and beyond. It's a shining example of what can be achieved when a community comes together to tackle the most pressing issues of our time.

Learn more about the Sea2City Design Challenge:

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