LIVABLE CITIES FORUM
FROM INTENTION TO IMPLEMENTATION
September 25 to 27, 2023
LCF 2022 SPEAKERS
The 2022 Livable Cities Forum program offered perspectives from more than 80 speakers, facilitators, workshop hosts, and panelists from across Canada. They shared stories, innovative ideas, and lessons learned on the program themes and engaged in thoughtful, valuable dialogue with delegates. Meet some of our speakers.
Hon. Bowinn Ma
Minister of State for Infrastructure, North Vancouver-Lonsdale
Bowinn Ma has served as MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale since May 2017 and was appointed Minister of State for Infrastructure in 2020. She is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) with a degree in civil engineering (BASc), a masters from the UBC Sauder School of Business (MM), and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Bowinn has championed investments for the North Shore in housing, child care, and education. She is an ardent believer in the climate emergency and has also made headlines for speaking publicly about difficult topics like racism, sexism, and eating disorders. Bowinn previously served as Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink and as the Chair for the Select Standing Committee on Crown Corporations. Prior to being first elected, Bowinn managed terminal expansion and redevelopment projects for the Vancouver Airport Authority.
Mayor, City of Victoria
Mayor Lisa Helps has served as Mayor of Victoria since 2014, before that she was a city Councillor from 2011-2014. She is relentlessly future leaning and works hard to ensure that Victoria is prosperous, resilient, welcoming and ready for challenges and opportunities ahead. Mayor Helps prioritizes collaboration, diversity and building understanding. She brings together a diverse range of community leaders to work together to advance ambitious programs such as future-focused economic development, climate action, affordable housing, and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
CEO and Co-Founder, Digital Public Square
Farhaan is CEO of Digital Public Square and a co-founder of the organization. For nearly 20 years, he has been leading efforts on the use of digital tools to connect and mobilize people online. With nearly a decade of public service from Canada’s former International Development Agency, to serving as the Prime Minister of Canada’s senior advisor for digital, Farhaan has a record of generating real-world outcomes and winning awards for a number of first-in-kind initiatives. Under Farhaan’s leadership, the team at the Digital Public Square is at the forefront of developing new technology and tools to foster online engagement with expertise in reaching marginalized communities, those facing repression, or those in sensitive digital space.
Executive Advisor, Climate Investing and Community Resilience, Co-operators
Don served as Edmonton’s 35th Mayor from 2013 to 2021 with a guiding leadership principle to make things better for the next generation. This long-termism is now embedded in: Edmonton’s smart growth City Plan; City Council’s Energy Transition Strategy and first-in-Canada carbon budget, and Edmonton’s nation-leading City-Wide Flood Mitigation Strategy. As Mayor, Don’s political leadership extended to the national stage. His advocacy helped to shape the National Housing Strategy and influence the Federal Government to commit to ending chronic homelessness nationwide — goals that cannot be achieved without robust partnerships with cities. Since retiring from municipal office, Don continues to live in Edmonton. In addition to this role with Co-operators, Don has accepted an appointment as a School of Cities Canadian Urban Leader at the University of Toronto. He is also ramping up a public policy advisory practice working on climate, housing, regional governance and civic innovation projects with like-minded clients, including Co-operators, and volunteers on the board of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
Mary W. Rowe
President & CEO, Canadian Urban Institute
Mary W. Rowe is a leading urban advocate and civil society trailblazer who has worked in cities and with communities across Canada and the United States. Mary was President of the Canadian platform Ideas That Matter, a convening and publishing program based on the work of renowned urbanist Jane Jacobs, when a mid-career fellowship with the US-based blue moon fund led her to New Orleans. There she worked with national philanthropy, governments and community activists to support rebuilding through micro-investments in neighbourhood projects for seven years in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Prior to joining the Canadian Urban Institute as President and Chief Executive Officer, Mary lived in New York City and served as Executive Vice President of the Municipal Art Society (MASNYC), one of America’s oldest civic advocacy organizations focused on the built environment.
Executive Director, ICLEI Canada
Megan is recognized by cities across Canada as an authority on municipal sustainability. She has been with ICLEI since 1999, over which time she has held many roles in strategic energy planning, climate mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, as well as sustainability management. Megan is member of ICLEI’s global senior management team which includes the Directors of all 14 ICLEI offices from around the world and has served on steering committees with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Canadian Standards Association, Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Urban Institute and QUEST. As Director of ICLEI Canada, the favourite part of her job is talking to ICLEI members and learning about how they are handling the day-to-day nature of the ongoing quest for sustainability in their community.
Managing Director, ICLEI Canada
Ewa Jackson is a leader in the field of municipal climate adaptation and resilience. She has worked with municipal governments for over 20 years in the fields of sustainability, public participation, and climate change. In addition to managing ICLEI Canada’s operational and program activities, Ewa Jackson is project manager for many ICLEI Canada consulting activities and has worked on numerous adaptation and sustainability monitoring and evaluation projects, including those of local, national, and international scope. She works with specialists in the field to keep officials at the forefront and responding to the advancements being made. She often speaks publicly on the state of adaptation planning across Canada and internationally.
Senior Policy Analyst, BC Climate Action Secretariat, Partnerships and Engagement Branch
Dave is a Senior Policy Analyst with Communities of the Partnerships and Engagement Branch of the BC Climate Action Secretariat. He has worked for over 12 years in both climate mitigation and adaptation, more recently focusing on how to enable resilience actions in the buildings sector and more broadly across local jurisdictions.
Member of the Songhees First Nation
Mark Albany is a member of the Songhees First Nation who has resided in Victoria all of his life. Upon graduating from public school, Mark pursued his post secondary education at Camosun College and at the University of Victoria prior to receiving his Masters in Counselling from Gonzaga University. Mark worked at various agencies putting his exceptional communication skills to use but never forgot his connection to his Songhees First Nation Community. During his time working in the Victoria School District, Mark developed the format for his Lək̓ʷəŋən Walking Tour presenting these cultural tours to students from Kindergarten through grade-12. Mark’s tours are informative and engaging, and very much in-demand. He has presented to post-secondary students at Camosun College and at the University of Victoria, and to the general public.
Dr. Don Alexander
Professor, Geography Department and Master of Community Planning Program, Vancouver Island University
Don Alexander is a semi-retired professor of planning and Geography at Vancouver Island University (VIU). He is the co-chair of the Environmental Scan Working Group of VIU’s President’s Task Force on Climate Action and Sustainability. His passions include climate action, sustainable and resilient cities, building and enhancing the sense of place, and doughnut economics. He has published and presented on all of these topics.
Executive Director, Building Resilient Neighbourhoods
Stacy is Building Resilient Neighbourhoods‘ Executive Director where she leads and facilitates a number of community resilience initiatives and collaborates as the Director Learning and Evaluation for the Hey Neighbour Collective. For over 25 years, Stacy has worked in sustainable community development with a wide range of communities, non-profit organizations, and public sector agencies in Canada and Latin America. Her recent work focuses on building neighbourhood-based engagement, public engagement on climate change and health, community resilience, and collective impact across sectors. In addition to her role with Building Resilient Neighbourhoods, Stacy supports this work as a co-founder and consultant with SHIFT Collaborative. Stacy holds a M. Ed. from Simon Fraser University, specializing in Adult Education, community development, and organizational learning.
Luiz Bezerra (He/him)
Senior Manager, Passive House Canada
Luiz Bezerra is a Senior Manager at Passive House Canada where he has been working over the past 3 years. He is a Civil Engineer with over 12 years of experience, Certified Passive House Designer and Trainer by the Passive House Institute, Darmstadt – Germany. Proudly the Project Manager / Certified Passive House Designer for the first Certified Passive House in South America, located in Natal in Brazil. He works establishing and maintaining effective Relationships with key regional municipalities, government, and their respective agencies across Canada. Luiz also oversees the Education Department, is responsible for the planning, coordination and delivery of all Education, Training, Development programs and new business.
Director, Research and Economics, All One Sky Foundation
Richard is a recognized expert on the economics of climate change, with 30 years’ experience evaluating the costs of inaction, as well as the costs, benefits and distributional impacts of adaptation and mitigation strategies to inform decision-making at all levels of government. His work focuses on economic risk assessment and decision-making methodologies and applications to climate change, and he has authored several resource guides on these topics. Richard recently completed studies of the economic risks of climate change for both Calgary and Edmonton and served as lead author for the “Costs and Benefits of Climate Impacts and Adaptation” chapter of Canada’s national climate change knowledge assessment. Over his career, Richard has led economic analyses of climate change impacts and adaptation for infrastructure and the built environment, human health, water resources and quality, agriculture, and ecosystem services, both within Canada and internationally. He is the Director of Research and Economics at All One Sky Foundation.
General Manager, Operations Department, Cowichan Valley Regional District
Mark is an accomplished municipal professional with an interdisciplinary background in both urban and rural local government settings. Mark joined the Cowichan Valley Regional District in 2021 as General Manager of Operations, overseeing water, solid waste, and parks divisions. Following nine years as an environmental management consultant for a range of private and government organizations, Mark spent nine years leading climate action and sustainability portfolios for the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria. In 2017, he took on the role of CAO for the District of Ucluelet where he championed sustainable infrastructure and responsible tourism initiatives. Mark is a Registered Professional Planner and lives on Salt Spring Island where he enjoys all that the ocean has to offer, growing food, and hiking.
Executive Director, Municipal Natural Assets Initiative
Roy is the Executive Director of the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, a national not-for profit. His professional focus is the role of nature based solutions and natural assets in risk management, meeting net zero and biodiversity targets and delivering sustainable infrastructure services. During the 1990s, Roy served as a political advisor to Canada’s environment minister. He then worked for the United Nations for almost a decade. This included the World Health Organization, United Nations Environment Programme and UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. During his time with the UN, he was based in Geneva, Switzerland, and later in Kigali, Rwanda, where he was UNEP’s Environment Programme Coordinator. Roy also served as Director of Sustainability for the City of Victoria between 2011-2013.
Climate Change and Health Lead, Vancouver Coastal Health
Craig Brown is the Climate Change And Health Lead at Vancouver Coastal Health where he supports climate change adaptation projects in the health sector, with a strong emphasis on community collaboration. Craig is also an author on national and international climate change knowledge assessments, including the IPCC Sixth Assessment report, and an associate faculty member at Royal Roads University in the Master of Arts in Climate Action Leadership program.
CEO, Northwest Territories Association of Communities (NWTAC)
Raised in Yellowknife, Sara started out in construction and consulting working with communities as clients. Sara is now Chief Executive Officer of the Northwest Territories Association of Communities where she focuses on the issues that are important to NWT communities and works to help them. The Association has had a strong emphasis on Climate Change for over 10 years. Sara has been Chair of the Technical Committee for the development of the Permafrost Guide and eight Northern Infrastructure Standards as well as many other climate change committees.
Anna Bunce (she/her)
Senior Policy Analyst, British Columbia Ministry of Health
Anna Bunce is a Senior Policy Analyst with the British Columbia Ministry of Health’s Climate Resilience Unit. With a background in climate change adaptation, she has worked with Indigenous communities across British Columbia, Inuit Nunungat and Kenya to better understand Indigenous climate interests, concerns, adaptation, and resilience. She holds a Master of Arts in Geography from McGill University where she explored the gendered experiences of climate change among Inuit women as part of the larger Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change project. Prior to joining the Ministry of Health, Anna led Indigenous engagement on climate action for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy’s Climate Action Secretariat.
Executive Director, West Kootenay Community EcoSociety
Montana Burgess (she/her or they/them) is the Executive Director at Neighbours United and identifies as a queer settler and parent living on the traditional lands of the Sinixt Peoples. She has over 15 years of experience in climate, energy and environmental non-profits in BC, Ottawa and internationally, including coordinating civil society at over 25 UN conferences.
Musician, Songwriter, Recording Artist, and Record Label and Studio Owner, Victoria
Kathryn Calder is a musician, songwriter, recording artist, and record label and studio owner based in Victoria. For the past 17 years, Kathryn has been recording and touring as a vocalist/keyboardist with indie rock group The New Pornographers. She has also released three solo records, five albums with Immaculate Machine, and two albums with her latest project, Frontperson.
Composing musical scores for feature films has been another focus of Kathryn’s in recent years, including ‘A Matter of Time’, a documentary about her mother’s battle with ALS. Kathryn is the founder of Oscar St. Records, an artist-run boutique record label based on Vancouver Island. She also owns The Hive recording studio with her husband, producer/engineer Colin Stewart. In July 2019, Calder was selected as Artist in Residence for the City of Victoria, which involves working with the City in the realm of public art and community engagement for a two-year term. Kathryn loves her hometown of Victoria and is dedicated to promoting the arts on the Island and in B.C.
Director of Climate Leadership, Community Energy Association
Maya is the Director of Climate Leadership with the Community Energy Association (CEA), where she leads CEA’s coaching and education services and supports local governments in accelerating climate action through networks and capacity-building. Maya is the facilitator for the BC Municipal Climate Leadership Council (BCMCLC), which provides education, coaching and peer learning to locally elected officials committed to climate action in their communities. Maya also works with local government staff peer networks focused on climate action big moves and is supporting the launch of regional climate collaboration clusters.
Director, Green & Circular Economy Advisory Services, Delphi Group
Ben Clark is the Director in Green and Circular Economy at the Delphi Group, an organization made up of leading experts in corporate sustainability, climate change, the green economy, innovation and cleantech.
Ben has led organizations in the development of place-based food systems and the local food economy, as well as the urban development process and resilient neighbourhood planning. Ben is on the board for FED Urban Agriculture and was the previous Co-Chair of the Victoria Urban Food Table.
Planning Assistant, City of Coquitlam
Laura Clark (she/her) is originally from Okotoks, Alberta and now lives in Vancouver, situated on the unceded traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Wautauth Nations. Laura is a recent graduate of the Masters of Community Planning program at Vancouver Island University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Studies. She completed her major project research on how urban planning interacts with issues of gender and sexuality. This research aims to address the silencing of minority genders and sexualities in planning discourse and the marginalization of many women and 2SLGBTQ+. She is passionate about creating urban environments that are vibrant, connected, and reflective of the unique people found there. In her spare time, you can find her exploring local coffee and vintage shops, hiking, or playing in the ocean.
Derek de Candole
Community Energy Specialist, City of Victoria
Derek joined the City of Victoria as Community Energy Specialist in October 2021 and works with the Sustainable Planning; Community Development and Climate Action Program teams. His primary focus is on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing buildings in the community. He works with a variety of stakeholders to find effective ways to reduce and eliminate fossil fuel use while increasing building efficiency and resiliency in the face of a changing climate.
Climate Change Advisor, City of Laval
Ian Dessureault is a Climate change advisor for the City of Laval. Holder of a master’s degree in chemical engineering with a specialization in environment from the École polytechnique of Montréal, Ian also has a graduate degree specializing in sustainable development from the Université du Québec at Chicoutimi. He has worked for over ten years as a climate change advisor for the City of Laval. Its main mandate is to develop, plan and ensure the implementation of Ville de Laval’s climate change strategy. He is more particularly involved with projects aimed at reducing GHG emissions such as sustainable mobility and green constructions. Closely involved in climate change issues for over 15 years, he believes that local governments such as cities have a key role to play in effectively fighting climate change and adapting to it.
Director, Sustainable Development, City of Beaconsfield
Andrew Duffield is a civil engineer with a Master’s in Environmental engineering on soil remediation. He has worked as a municipal engineer and manager for over 25 years. As Director of Public Works for the City of Beaconsfield, Andrew is recognized for the implementation of the City’s Smart Waste Reduction Strategy. He is now Director of Sustainable Development, a commitment of the City to promote environmentally responsible action on the journey to become a more sustainable and resilient community. As part of the management team, a primary focus for Andrew is ensuring that the City’s natural assets are recognized by the administration, council, and citizens alike for their critical role and value to help the community adapt to the effects of extreme climate events.
Jenna Dutton (she/her/hers)
Senior Planner – Social Policy, City of Victoria
Jenna Dutton is a senior urban planner and researcher who has worked in local government, academia and the private sector for over 12 years. She is a passionate changemaker and collaborator and volunteers for networks and communities of practice operating across the world including the Commonwealth Women in Planning Network and Women in Urbanism Canada. In her current role at the City of Victoria she is part of the Community Planning and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion offices and leads various projects including those focused on climate and equity, childcare, and accessibility.
Child and Youth Coordinator, Compost Education Centre
Jeffrey Ellom (he/him) is a settler of Ewe and mixed European descent who grew up on unceded Syilx Okanagan territory. He’s been living on unceded Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ territories since 2014. Jeffrey joined the Compost Education Centre (CEC) in 2021 and helps develop and deliver workshops to children and youth as the CEC’s Child & Youth Education Coordinator. Jeffrey studied biology in university and is a life-long learner with particular enthusiasm for plant and microbe ecologies. He also holds an awareness of the institution of science as a colonizing force, whose methods of extracting and gatekeeping knowledge and privileging of Euro-western perspectives have come at a cost to Indigenous peoples here on Turtle Island and worldwide. With this in mind, Jeffrey looks for ways to educate young people about living systems in ways that inspire an ethic of interdependence and responsibility toward human and more-than-human communities. He also works to involve youth in community-based citizen science, to encourage a shift toward science that is more conscientious and equitable.
Felicia Fischer (she/her)
Planner, Alderhill Planning
Felicia Fischer is a first-generation immigrant of German and Trinidadian ancestry, born in Trinidad and currently living on the unceded territory of Snuneymuxw First Nation. Felicia holds a Masters of Community Planning and a Bachelor of Arts in Digital Media Studies from Vancouver Island University. As a Planner with Alderhill Planning, Felicia has gained experience supporting a variety of planning projects with First Nations and Governments on strategic plans and creative knowledge mobilization. Passionate about innovative problem solving and creating health equitable spaces that allow everyone to flourish, Felicia brings strong facilitation, information design, continuous self-reflection, and a warm smile to her work. Outside of planning, Felicia loves to explore new worlds through books and video games and spend time with the furry member of the family.
Recreation Programmer, City of Victoria
Julia has been working with rural and urban small scale food production and community education for over 15 years, regionally and internationally. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from McGill University. From managing small businesses, to stewarding community orchards, to teaching food production and permaculture at local colleges and universities, Julia thrives on bringing a big picture perspective into the daily practices of growing food, tending land and caring for community.
Principal, Pinna Sustainability
Cariad Garratt is founding principal of Pinna Sustainability Inc., a strategic consultancy helping all types of governments and organizations to advance their sustainability goals. Cariad has 20 years of experience working with local, provincial, federal and Indigenous governments to help navigate the path from a long-term vision to a set of strategies, objectives and specific policies in a breadth of areas including climate change mitigation and adaptation, water and wastewater, air quality, and transportation. She employs her analytical skill set to define and assess performance measures, and to estimate potential impacts of implementing various policies or programs.
Executive Director, CRFAIR
Linda has been actively working on regional food system issues since the early 1990s and has been instrumental in building and shaping CRFAIR into the organization it is today. Linda is a member of the Peninsula and Area Agricultural Commission and co-chair of the BC Food Systems Network. Linda won the 2022 Victoria Leadership Award in the Health and Wellness category for being an exemplary leader focused on creating a different food future for our community. Linda is an avid food grower and fisher.
Risk Reduction & Business Continuity Planner, City of Calgary
Kerrie works in the Business Continuity & Risk Reduction Section at the City of Calgary for Calgary Emergency Management Agency. More specifically, she works on identifying, developing, and implementing strategic mitigation and prevention of unnecessary risk exposure in Calgary in the built environment and Critical Infrastructure. This involves collaborating with multiple key stakeholders to integrate strategies that reduce the vulnerability of the community to Calgary’s natural, human, and technological hazards. When the Emergency Operations Center is activated, she occupies an operational role to support a coordinated response to disasters. Her experience includes supporting reconstruction projects and community development initiatives, interpreting technical requirements for the built environment, supporting large capital project delivery, developing policy and standards, facilitation and strategic engagement, research, and operational response planning and coordination.
Sabrina Guzman Skotnitsky
Climate Justice Advocate, Researcher and Artist
Sabrina Guzman Skotnitsky is a climate justice advocate, researcher and artist. Over the past two years Sabrina has worked with Youth Climate Lab, the Canadian Council for Youth Prosperity, and the Emerging Youth Consultancy on a range of projects related to climate policy, green jobs, just transition, and youth leadership. Sabrina is currently an MA Candidate in the Environmental Studies department at the University of Victoria where she is investigating how art and storytelling can help young people cope with climate anxiety and ecological grief.
Hetxw'ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson)
Research Associate, Prairie Climate Centre
Hetxw’ms Gyetxw, also known as Brett D. Huson (he/him/his), is from the Gitxsan Nation of the Northwest Interior of British Columbia, Canada. Growing up in this strong matrilineal society, Brett developed a passion for his people’s culture, land, and politics and a desire to share their knowledge and stories. Brett has worked in the film and television industry for over 16 years and is also a volunteer board member for such organizations as Ka Ni Kanichihk and sakihiwe Festival. The award-winning series Mothers of Xsan is Brett’s first series of books and part of a larger vision he has in sharing the worlds of the Gitxsan Nation. As Brett continues creating new art and working on new books, he is also working with the Prairie Climate Centre at the University of Winnipeg to connect science and Indigenous Knowledges. With the support of his wife Jeri and their children Warren and Ruby, Brett endeavours to continue sharing stories with his writing, artwork and photography.
Darynne Hagen (she/her)
Development Manager, Geosource Energy
Much of Darynne’s work at Geosource has focused on technical and financial modelling of geo-exchange projects, assessing value of geo-exchange systems from a variety of stakeholder perspectives. With a degree in environmental engineering from the University of Waterloo, Darynne has a strong understanding of the technical side of the energy space but combines that with a passion for knowledge translation and relationship building. Through thoughtful communication and content development, Darynne works to breaks down silos in industry and facilitate candid discussion with the goal of collaboratively establishing an equitable and sustainable post-carbon future.
Lead, One Planet Saanich
Cora has over 20 years’ experience advancing community and organizational sustainability. She is currently Principal of CHRM Consulting, part-time manager of Ecocity Initiatives for the BCIT Centre for Ecocities and is a Senior Associate with One Earth. Cora currently leads three progressive sustainability initiatives: the Greater Victoria 2030 District, which has engaged leading property managers in creating a hub of high performing buildings, One Planet Saanich which engages businesses, community organizations and schools in developing ‘One Planet Living’ sustainability actions plans and the Ecocity Peer Network which is helping BC local governments understand and act on their consumption-based emissions and ecological footprints. For the second consecutive year, Cora has been recognized on the BC500 list, which features influential business leaders who have a notable impact on B.C.’s communities, industries and economy. She is one of six recognized under the Urban Planning category.
Co-founder, Senior Adviser, ACT
Deborah Harford is co-founder, Senior Adviser and and former Executive Director of the Adaptation to Climate Change Team – now the Action on Climate Team (ACT) – at Simon Fraser University. A nationally-acclaimed thought leader on integrating adaptation and emissions reduction – low carbon resilience (LCR) – Deborah developed ACT’s pioneering vision and partnerships with the public, private and philanthropic sectors and has advised all levels of government as well as the professional and private sectors. She is a contributor to numerous national and international adaptation initiatives past and present, including Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Expert Panel on Adaptation and Resilience Results, the Expert Adaptation Panel of the Canadian Climate Institute, and the Board of the new Canadian Association of Climate Change Professionals. Deborah currently consults on low carbon resilience for a variety of organizations, and leads global partnership development for new ebook entertainment platform, Legible.com, with the goal of building resilience for individuals via global access to digital reading.
Food Systems Coordinator, City of Victoria
Alex is the City of Victoria’s Food Systems Coordinator leading the Growing in the City initiatives including the award-winning program, Get Growing, Victoria! Prior to working in municipal government, Alex worked in the food systems and non-profit sector for over a decade, building successful food access programs for youth, scaling up Victoria’s Good Food Box Program and founding the long-standing summer farmer’s market, the Oaklands Sunset Market. She holds a Master’s degree in strategic leadership towards sustainability and enjoys hiking, cooking and playing ultimate frisbee when not building new food systems programming.
Founder & CEO, TOPSOIL Innovative Agriculture
Chris is the founder and CEO of Topsoil Innovative Agriculture, one of Victoria’s thriving urban farms. Topsoil has transformed 20,000 square feet of the Dockside Green waterfront into a productive farm, providing premium produce direct to restaurants and the local community. Topsoil also converts underutilized space into micro-farms through community partnerships with LifeCycles’ Growing Schools Program, Seed the City Youth Program, my FED Farms with FED Urban Agriculture and in partnership with the Songhees Wellness Centre. A pioneer of urban agriculture in Victoria, Chris has been nominated for ‘The 10 Most Innovative Business Leaders to Look Out for in 2022’ by Tycoon Success.
Community Energy Specialist, City of Victoria
Since November 2018, John has held the position of Community Energy Specialist in the City of Victoria’s Climate Action Program. His primary focus is on policy and program development to tackle Victoria’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions – existing buildings. Included in his efforts are working with community, industry, staff and other levels of government to accelerate the elimination of fossil-fuel systems towards renewable energy solutions and increasing energy-efficiency.
Environmental Strategist and Program Manager, The City of Fredericton
Jillian is the Environmental Strategist and Program Manager with the City of Fredericton and oversees
the implementation of the City’s climate mitigation and adaptation plans. She has a background in earth
science, conservation, and ecosystem restoration. Jillian previously worked with a range of local and
international non-governmental and inter-governmental institutions before joining the team at the City
of Fredericton in 2021.
Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi (She/Her)
Executive Director, Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society
Since 2015 Fran has been the Executive Director of the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH), working closely with the Indigenous Street Family, bringing an Indigenous lens to understanding both challenges and solutions to Indigenous homelessness with a focus on strengthening self-identity, creating pathways to recovery and healing, and developing culturally-supportive housing. With over 30 years of experience in senior management, Indigenous community development and leadership, Fran’s approach embraces consensus building through the identification of common goals and values and draws on the gifts and experiences of others towards inclusivity. She holds a degree, a masters, and completed the coursework for a Doctor of Philosophy, Educational Psychology & Leadership Studies. In 2019 she received the City of Victoria Honorary Citizen Award, pointing to her ability to influence policy, services, and practice. Moreover, the scope of her experience ranges from presenting to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, being one of eight people in BC to receive the International Year of the World’s Indigenous Peoples Scholarship for Academic Excellence, nominated for the Lieutenant Governor’s Award, and serving on countless boards/committees. Fran was the inaugural Director of Office of Indigenous Affairs at the University of Victoria, an elected School Trustee District #85 and an elected Chief. Either as a business owner, manager, or executive director, Fran has experience in leadership roles which required partnership building, networking and negotiating with both provincial and federal governments, creating broad collaborations, identifying allies, advancing policies, listening as much as talking, finding shared goals and values to influence systems change, and leading by example.
Manager of Parks Services, District of Oak Bay
Chris has 40 years’ experience working in arboriculture, horticulture and natural area systems and is now responsible for the administration, maintenance and supervision of the District of Oak Bay‘s municipal park system. One of the projects he currently oversees is the management and restoration of Uplands Park which is a place of exceptional beauty and holds an unusually high concentration of rare and endangered plants making it a place of national conservation significance. In 2022 in partnership with UBC Chris helped rolled out the Oak Bay Coolkit Program which focuses on climate change solutions through community engagement, awareness building and behavioral changes that leads to collective climate action on District blocks.
Caroline Jackson (she/her)
Manager, Climate Action, Natural Systems and Biodiversity, District of North Vancouver
Caroline is the Manager, Climate Action, Natural Systems and Biodiversity at the District of North Vancouver where her team works in partnership with departments across the organization to advance the District’s response to the climate and ecological emergency. Caroline holds a B.Sc. in Biology and Computer Science from Simon Fraser University and a M.Sc. in Zoology from the University of British Columbia. She has over 20 years of experience working in the municipal, provincial, federal, and non-profit environmental sectors.
Climate Change Project Coordinator, ICLEI Canada
As Climate Change Project Coordinator at ICLEI Canada, Hiba coordinates both adaptation and mitigation projects within local governments part of the Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities (BARC) program and the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) program. She works closely with Canadian communities throughout the climate change planning process: conducting vulnerability & risk assessments, building GHG inventories, plan development, and implementation. Hiba is also involved in the development and delivery of tools and resources to build the knowledge and capacity of stakeholders and local governments.
Advisor, Evaluation and Learning, Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program, Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Philip Kelly is Advisor for the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Project. Philip has been at FCM for 10 years working primarily on international local economic development projects. Managing a recent project (VnSWM) dealing with GHG emissions reduction and solid waste management in Vietnam led him to the field of climate change resilience where he now works with MCIP .
Dr. Chaeri Kim
Postdoctoral Fellow, Action on Climate Team, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Chaeri Kim is a post-doctoral fellow at ACT – Action on Climate Team, SFU and Research Manager of ACT’s Natural Solutions Initiative (NSI). Chaeri received a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on green infrastructure in stormwater management across US cities. Her work with ACT focuses on developing a more systemic framework for nature-based solutions (NbS) that streamlines decision-making across climate change, biodiversity, municipal service delivery, equity and reconciliation, to optimize and advance more integrated NbS approaches and metrics.
Senior Policy Analyst, BC Climate Action Secretariat, Partnerships and Engagement Branch
Yaheli is a Senior Policy Analyst with Communities section of the Partnerships and Engagement Branch of the BC Climate Action Secretariat. Since 2014, Yaheli has worked for the province on developing real estate policy, working with local governments on climate action, and overseeing the mitigation of socio-economic impacts of major industrial projects. Most recently, she joined the Climate Action Secretariat to implement the new Local Government Climate Action Program (LGCAP).
Senior Lead for Asset Management, Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Benjamin is the Sector Lead for Asset Management at FCM, responsible for researching best practices to ensure the Municipal Asset Management Program is responsive to the needs of municipalities from coast to coast to coast. His background is in Civil Engineering, and he has worked on municipal capacity development and infrastructure programs at FCM since 2017. Currently his focus is on the aspects of asset management practice that are key to addressing climate risks and emissions reduction.
Devanshi Kukadia (she/her)
Research and Communications Manager, Clean Air Partnership
Devanshi is the Research and Communications Manager at Clean Air Partnership (CAP). By sharing CAP’s research and learnings with collaborators across diverse sectors, she strives to make an impact in creating a low-carbon society. At CAP, Devanshi leads the creation of case studies, toolkits, briefing notes, and detailed reports on climate related topics including green buildings, electric vehicles, municipal finance, energy efficiency, climate adaptation, and others. Before joining CAP, she worked as a Development Manager in the Canadian non-profit sector and contributed to strategic planning, communications and operations. Devanshi holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Toronto and is a certified Climate Reality Leader.
Researcher, Architecture Without Borders Quebec
Élène Levasseur, Ph.D. is a researcher at Architecture Without Borders Quebec (AWBQ). Her current work concerns both architectural gestures contributing to the fight against homelessness and the adaptation of the built environment to flooding. Pursued with the collaboration of community partners, Quebec government organizations, professors and students from the University of Montreal, they have the common objective of improving the capacities of communities to the environmental and socio-economic challenges. Also spokesperson for AWBQ in terms of adaptation to climate change, she develops a Flood Resilience program and is the author of the report Cohabiter avec l’eau : État des connaissances en matière d’adaptation des bâtiments aux inondations.
Senior Policy Analyst, Climate Change Adaptation Policy, Environment and Climate Change Canada
Vincent is a Senior Policy Analyst in the Climate Change Adaptation Directorate at Environment and Climate Change Canada. In collaboration with key partners, Vincent led the public engagement on Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy and was also the Secretariat of the National Adaptation Strategy Advisory Table on Natural Environment. He previously worked with various countries on the Global Commission on Adaptation and supported the international work under the Nature-Based Solutions Action Track, which was showcased at the Climate Adaptation Summit. Vincent also served as a senior environmental policy analyst on key federal initiatives, such as the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy and the Defence Energy and Environment Strategy. Vincent holds a Masters of Environment from University of Sherbrooke and a Masters in Environmental Ethics (philosophy) from Université Laval.
Policy Analyst, Climate Partnerships and Engagement Branch, BC Climate Action Secretariat
Elizabeth is a Policy Analyst whose responsibilities include data analysis, energy and emissions reporting, engagement and program development and delivery. Her work has included climate action, sustainable transportation, urban development, natural resource stewardship and Indigenous jurisdiction in the Provincial and Federal Government and the private and non-profit sectors.
Sara MacRae (she/her)
Manager of Climate and Energy, Dufferin County
As Dufferin County’s Climate and Energy Manager, Sara oversees the implementation of the County’s first community Climate Action Plan and leads corporate climate planning and initiatives. Her approach to climate planning is guided by her time as a graduate student in Community Psychology, where she specialized in social justice focused climate action that she now applies to the municipal context. Before joining Dufferin County, Sara was the Executive Director of a climate change non-profit, where she developed GHG-reduction projects and inspired local climate action for more than 10 years. As a self-proclaimed professional friend-maker, Sara believes that good collaboration is at the heart of every good solution.
Gabriela Masfarre Pinto
Community Engagement Lead, Canadian Urban Institute
Gabriela is a creative thinker and curious learner who aims to expand our collective imagination and support people who spark change. Before joining the Healthy Communities Initiative with the Canadian Urban Institute, Gabriela worked internationally in the fields of social business, community engagement and inclusive innovation. She combines an ability to think strategically, with her dedication and skill to design relational and caring processes. From Barcelona, she lives in Toronto, the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Ian Mauro, PhD (He/Him)
Executive Director (Incoming), Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, University of Victoria
Dr. Mauro is (incoming) Executive Director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions (PICS) and Professor in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. He is an environmental scientist and filmmaker who has served on expert panels related to food security, climate change, and energy issues. Mauro has worked collaboratively with First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities and organizations nationally and has extensive experience weaving climate science and Indigenous ways of knowing. He led the team that developed the Climate Atlas of Canada (www.climateatlas.ca) that also includes Indigenous data and documentaries from coast to coast to coast.
Program Manager, Community Social Planning Council
Lorenzo is a program manager with the Community Social Planning Council. Lorenzo has various interests that include social and environmental justice, community development, food security and adaptation to climate change. Lorenzo has worked with indigenous communities in Canada and Guatemala on initiatives aimed at empowering these communities to change and improve their social and economic conditions.
Director of Planning and Building Services District of Central Saanich
Jarret Matanowitsch is the Director of Planning and Building Services at the District of Central Saanich, which includes the climate action portfolio. With over 20 years of planning experience in local government and the private sector in areas of community and development planning, environmental stewardship, food security and local government administration, Jarret continues to build on this experience and strives to implement effective climate action initiatives in the community.
Director of Environment & Climate Change, Halifax Regional Municipality
Shannon Miedema is the Director of Environment & Climate Change with the Halifax Regional Municipality. Her team is the driving force behind HalifACT, the municipality’s ambitious climate action plan that is shaking things up on the east coast. Shannon has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and Earth Systems Science from Queen’s University, a Master of Environmental Studies from Dalhousie University and a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Kings College. Shannon uses her passion, education and experience to lead Halifax towards increased resiliency and sustainability.
VP, Stakeholder Relations, International WELL Building Institute (IWBI)
Among the first to become a WELL Accredited Professional (WELL AP) and having served essential roles on several of the first WELL Certified projects globally, Liz brings extensive knowledge and experience in health and well-being for buildings, organizations and communities. As Vice President of Stakeholder Relations, Liz works closely with leadership and internal teams to develop and strengthen critical partnerships that support a broad range of programmatic activities.
Masters Student, Vancouver Island University
Courtenay completed her undergraduate degree from the University of Victoria with a double major in Geography and Environmental Science with a concentration in urban planning. Courtenay focused on ecological restoration, environment and sustainability, and urban geography in her undergraduate degree. Courtenay is entering her second year of the Master of Community Planning program at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo. The main area of focus in her graduate studies is environmental planning, sustainable development, and affordable housing. Courtenay’s thesis focuses on green infrastructure planning and how it can be incorporated more widely across Canada to help address the impacts of climate change.
Independent Consultant and City of Vancouver Senior Sustainability Specialist
Tamsin is a Registered Professional Planner and recognized expert in climate resilience and adaptation. She has worked with municipal and provincial levels of government, First Nations and the private sector and across domains from heat response planning to coastal flood risk assessment. Tamsin developed and lead implementation of the City of Vancouver’s Adaptation Strategy. She enjoys considering how to improve risk assessment methods and playing in the great outdoors in her spare time.
Senior Environmental Analyst, Cowichan Valley Regional District
Jeff is a Senior Environmental Analyst with the Cowichan Valley Regional District, working on issues of climate adaptation and conservation planning. With a multi-disciplinary background including a Masters of Resource Management and undergraduate degrees in natural science, geography and outdoor recreation, Jeff works to share complex information about the impacts of climate change with a wide range of audiences. Since settling in the Cowichan valley thirteen years ago, Jeff keeps busy raising his children, gardening and exploring the wilds of Vancouver Island.
Zero Waste Outreach Coordinator, City of Victoria
Rhiannon is a Zero Waste Outreach Coordinator for the City of Victoria. Her work at the City focuses on leading stakeholder engagement and communicating waste reduction initiatives and policy to diversity of audiences. Rhiannon sits on a variety of advisory boards, including the Plastic Action Centre’s Expert Advisory Panel. Before her role at the City, Rhiannon worked in a plastic pollution lab and published the first evidence of microplastic pollution in cetaceans within North America. She holds a Masters of Science from Simon Fraser University, was named one of Canada’s top 30 under 30 sustainability leaders in 2018, and is a recipient of the Garfield Weston Award for Northern Research.
Doctoral Candidate, Vancouver Island University
Originally from St. John’s, Newfoundland, Olivia completed her undergraduate degree in Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland, situated within the ancestral homelands of the Mi’kmaq and Beothuk, as well as those of the Inuit of Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut and the Innu of Nitassinan. During her degree, her interests focused on the intersection between homelessness, the rural north, and individuals living with disabilities. Since relocating to Nanaimo for the Master of Community Planning Program, her research has shifted to incorporate a gender perspective lens of how cities are not neutral and must be redesigned to include women at the forefront. Currently, feminist planning is underrepresented in an empirical and theoretical context. Her research aims to close the gap between city planning and the exacerbation women face in these cities. In doing so, women will participate in an accessible, available, and equitable way.
Manager of Sustainability, District of Saanich
Rebecca has led the Sustainability Division at the District of Saanich since 2017. The primary focus of this team is implementing the award winning 2020 Climate Plan: 100% Renewable and Resilient Saanich. The team adopts a truly collaborative and systems-based approach – recognizing that it takes a community working together to achieve our vision and targets. Equity, reconciliation and community well-being are key elements embedded in our work, alongside the need to be bold, ambitious and lead by example. Rebecca has a varied background in renewable energy, transit, zero-carbon housing-led regeneration, sustainable food systems and environmental impact assessment both in Canada and the UK. She lives with her husband and two daughters in wonderful Victoria and can be found hiking or biking the regional trails, eating the fantastic local food or in one of the great local brewpubs.
Senior Project Engineer, Utilities Division, City of Surrey
Matt Osler is a Senior Project Engineer in the Utilities Division at City of Surrey. He joined the Engineering Department in 2006 and currently oversees the implementation of the award-winning Surrey Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy. Through the Federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, he has developed extensive partnerships to implement a wide variety of climate adaptation projects ranging from large-scale grey infrastructure to innovative nature-based solutions to prepare City of Surrey for sea level rise and increased flood hazards.
Climate Policy Manager, City of Vancouver
Cathy Pasion is the Climate Policy Manager for the City of Vancouver and oversees the City’s Climate Emergency Action Plan. Cathy has worked in both consulting and local government in British Columbia and internationally. Cathy served as a senior policy advisor in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Sustainability where she worked on their 80×50 climate plan, oversaw their GHG inventories, and integrated equity and air quality into their climate action planning. At the University of British Columbia, Cathy worked on campus planning and a range of projects including district energy and water resources. Prior to her current role, she was a senior planning engineer for the Healthy Waters Planning team at the City of Vancouver. Cathy has both a bachelors and a masters degree in Environmental and Civil Engineering from McGill University, and a masters degree in Planning from the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia.
Vice-president of Sustainability & Citizenship, Co-operators
Chad Park is VP, Sustainability & Citizenship for Co-operators, where he leads the co-operative’s efforts to embed and integrate sustainability principles throughout the organization, including in its investment strategy and insurance operations, as well as its community investment programs. Before joining Co-operators in 2020, Chad has played a leadership role with several sustainability-focused organizations and initiatives, including as the Founding Director and Lead Animator of the Energy Futures Lab, Executive Director of The Natural Step Canada, and founding Board-member for the Future-Fit Foundation in the United Kingdom.
Conseillère municipale, Duvernay-Pont-Viau, Membre du comité exécutif, Ville de Laval
Diplômée en soins infirmiers et en littérature, c’est néanmoins l’entrepreneuriat qui s’est révélé être le premier amour professionnel de Christine Poirier. Mme Poirier connaît un retentissant succès et gagne plusieurs distinctions, dont « Femme d’affaires de l’année » du Réseau des femmes d’affaires du Québec, « Meilleurs jeunes entrepreneurs » du Mouvement Desjardins, en plus d’être nommée l’une des « Femmes de l’année » par le magazine Elle Québec. Plus récemment, Christine Poirier a eu une véritable piqûre de l’engagement politique. Elle occupait jusqu’à tout récemment la fonction de Directrice des opérations du Parti libéral du Canada (PLC) au Québec. À ce titre, elle était notamment responsable de la stratégie électorale de la formation politique du premier ministre du Canada, le très honorable Justin Trudeau, pour les 78 circonscriptions québécoises. En outre, elle y assurait aussi le lien entre le caucus des députés et les membres québécois de la formation politique. Résidente de Duvernay—Pont-Viau, Christine Poirier s’engage avec le Mouvement lavallois afin de poursuivre la modernisation de la Ville de Laval. Elle souhaite participer au développement d’une ville accueillante, respectueuse de l’environnement.
Manager, Climate Partnerships and Engagement Branch, BC Climate Action Secretariat
Ken has been working for the province in climate action for the past 12 years. He has extensive expertise in GHG calculation and quantification. Ken has worked for years supporting local governments undertaking climate action and was instrumental in developing the new Local Government Climate Action Program.
Community Consultant / Principal, Urban Systems
Jody Rechenmacher, P.Eng., is a Community Consultant and Principal with Urban Systems Ltd. Jody works with municipalities and First Nations to lead and facilitate the development of service-focused management programs, strategies, and plans that span all types of community services. Her expertise is in navigating complex problems that require both a technical and a social lens, with a recent emphasis on effective integration of climate resilience in municipal operations. Jody has been the lead author on public resources for Asset Management BC, the Association of Urban Municipalities of Alberta and Rural Municipalities of Alberta, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. She has developed and run province-wide training workshops for municipal elected officials and staff of First Nation governments and municipalities.
Project Coordinator for ACT’s Natural Solutions Initiative (NSI), SFU
Chloe Repka, LLB is the Project Coordinator for Action on Climate Team’s (ACT) Natural Solutions Initiative (NSI), where she is responsible for coordinating with the collaborative team of practitioners and partners to evaluate best practices. Over the past two years her work with ACT has focused on a detailed evaluation project of the 322 projects funded by FCM’s Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP). She worked with the ACT team to identify effective climate action, innovation and best practice, including low carbon resilience planning and nature-based solutions. This work resulted in four briefing notes detailing best practices in municipal climate action and innovation across Canada.
Ariel Reyes Antuan
Founder of IYE Creative
Ariel is a community connector, Afrofuturistic, systematic thinker, Iyé Creative co-founder and entrepreneur born in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Ariel is a co-founder of Iyé Creative, a grassroots collective nurturing reciprocal relations and mutual aid systems. Through its intersectional approach, Iyé Creative centers work on the restoration of ancestral narratives, practices and ways of being within communities that have been historically oppressed and are located on unceded and occupied Coast Salish Territory.
Sustainability Consultant, Pinna Sustainability
Steve is a sustainability and governance specialist with a diverse range of experience that spans 11 years in government, the private sector, and municipal politics. His experience includes policy, program, and strategic roles across four different orders of government (Indigenous, federal, territorial and municipal), with a focus on climate change adaptation in Northern Canada. As the Yukon government’s climate change adaptation lead for almost five years, Steve worked with regional, national and international partners to design, develop and implement climate adaptation projects, programs, and strategies. As a Whitehorse City Councillor, Steve worked at a strategic level to advance sustainability priorities in a complex and dynamic environment.
Director of Planning, Town of Qualicum Beach
Luke Sales is the Director of Planning for the Town of Qualicum Beach, where a strong tradition of urban planning is mixed with an enthusiasm for innovative approaches to building healthy and resilient communities. Since joining the Town in 2007, Luke has helped modernize and advance topics like green building, coastal planning, food security, and affordable housing.
Owner & Artistic Director of Raino Dance
Monique Salez is a first generation Canadian of mixed descent displaced peoples, born and raised on the land in Whitehorse the home of the Kwanlin Dun. An accomplished dancer, choreographer, teacher/facilitator, director, writer… Monique is a storyteller. In 2012 Monique became owner & artistic director of Raino Dance a 41 year old iconic adult dance school in Victoria on Lekwugen Territory. Since 2017, intercultural collaborations with diverse community abound. Indigenous, immigrant, refugee & settler community call in Monique to story weave, to find the common, universal thread that connects us. Photo Credit: Peruzzo.
CEO, Greater Victoria Public Library
Maureen Sawa is CEO of the Greater Victoria Public Library (GVPL), a 12-branch system serving 10 municipalities and five First Nations. She’s led transformative change at GVPL, including establishment of an innovative community-inspired librarianship service model. Maureen is a recipient of the United Way of Greater Victoria’s Leadership Award for Collaboration and Partnership and the Association of BC Public Library Directors’ Award of Excellence. She represents public libraries on a variety of advisory groups and is past Chair of the Canadian Urban Libraries Council. She holds a Master of Information Studies and is the author of two children’s books.
Senior Policy Analyst, Public Health Agency of Canada
Rebekka is a senior policy analyst in the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Infectious Disease and Climate Change Program. Prior to working at PHAC, she worked in Health Canada’s Climate Change and Innovation Bureau where she was co-editor of the national climate change and health assessment and a lead author of the chapters on health equity, and food safety and security. Rebekka is currently completing her PhD at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health where her research focuses on the intersection of climate change adaptation and health equity.
Dr. Michael Schwandt, MD MPH CCFP FRCPC
Medical Health Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health
Dr. Michael Schwandt is a Medical Health Officer with Vancouver Coastal Health, and Clinical Assistant Professor in the UBC School of Population and Public Health. He is a specialist physician in Public Health and Preventive Medicine, with a focus on environmental public health and health equity. Dr. Schwandt has led and contributed to programs on the health impacts of environments, such as housing, workplaces and public space, and the health benefits of addressing climate change. Dr. Schwandt regularly shares practical findings and public health information through international journals and media conversations, and his interest in healthy public spaces extends to pastimes as an avid runner and fan of local music.
Dr. Karena (Kara) Shaw
Associate Professor in the School of Environmental Studies and a member of the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems, University of Victoria
Dr. Karena (Kara) Shaw is Associate Professor in the School of Environmental Studies and a member of the Institute for Integrated Energy Systems at the University of Victoria. As a political ecologist, she researches and teaches about the social and political dynamics of environmental problems. Her current work, pursued in collaboration with students, fellow researchers and community partners, explores how energy transitions can support communities that are more just, diverse and thriving.
Manager, Sustainable Development, Sunshine Coast Regional District
Raphael Shay is the Manager, Sustainable Development at the beautiful Sunshine Coast Regional District in British Columbia. He works at the nexus of entrepreneurial projects and innovative policy. Raph has a BPhil in Interdisciplinary Leadership Studies from the University of New Brunswick and a Masters in Environment and Management at Royal Roads University. He loves fostering the relationships and collaborations needed to unearth leverage points and has done so in communities in New Brunswick, Ontario, British Columbia, the United-States’ Southwest, Indonesia, Denmark, and Bhutan. Raph also enjoys gardening, biking, skiing, and foraging the mountains for mushrooms with his family.
Dr. Stephen Sheppard
Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia’s Urban Forestry program
Stephen is Professor Emeritus with the University of British Columbia’s Urban Forestry program. He has 40 years’ experience in environmental and climate change planning, energy projects, urban forestry, public involvement and visualization. He directs the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP), an applied research group which focuses on community engagement for climate change solutions in everyday neighbourhoods, using fun visual tools & training programs such as the Oak Bay Coolkit and Cool ‘Hood Champs to foster awareness and action. He co-created and supports UBC’s Micro-certificate train-the-trainer program on Climate Action and Community Engagement.
Kristie Signer (she/her)
Climate Action Outreach Coordinator, City of Victoria
Kristie is passionate about preparing communities for the changing climate. She brings a background of climate change adaptation, community engagement, and emergency management to her work at the City of Victoria. This experience has served her well as she works with local partners to develop the Community Chapter of the City’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan. Over her career, Kristie has had the opportunity to work collaboratively with communities to identify their climate risks and vulnerabilities, and plan emergency response measures for extreme weather events.
Project Manager, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning, Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program, Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Rebecca Sivel is the Project Manager, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning for the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program (MCIP) with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). She has been with this program for the past three years. Before joining FCM, she held various monitoring and evaluation roles within international programs focussed on agriculture and cooperative development. Rebecca is also currently pursuing a master’s degree in international development with a specialization in environmental sustainability at the University of Ottawa.
Mayor, City of Duncan
Michelle was elected as Mayor of the City of Duncan in 2018 to serve as the City’s first female Mayor and has just been acclaimed for the 2022 municipal elections. She has a strong background in community planning, reconciliation and social justice. She has loved serving with Mayor Helps as co-chair on the Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities Climate Plan, on the executive of Island Coastal Economic Trust and as co chair of the Cowichan Covid Task Force on Homelessness. Very diverse tables, each filled with people working together committed to doing what they can to apply solutions to some of the most unprecedented challenges faced in our lifetime.
Manager of Urban Forest Services, City of Victoria
Brooke is the Manager of Urban Forest Services with the City of Victoria, leading a team responsible for implementing the City’s Urban Forest Master Plan. Part of her role includes working with a team of arborists to manage 33,000 trees on public property and a small team of urban forest planners, tree preservation coordinators and technicians to protect and plan the City’s current and future urban forest. Brooke has worked in the public sector for 18 years in Parks, Urban Forestry, Planning and Conservation.
Community Partnership Lead, Canadian Urban Institute
Gay is a collaborator who thrives on building networks and developing innovative programs while problem-solving and evaluating on the go. Passionate about working with communities and individuals towards positive change, she combines experience in policy advocacy, project management, web communications, and community outreach as the Community Partnership Lead with Canadian Urban Institute. Gay has co-run a successful Pop-Up Shop Project as part of an ongoing community economic development initiative in Toronto and co-authored an open source Pop-up Shop Retail Strategy e-book as part of Ryerson University’s writing team! She lives and works in Vancouver, BC, the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
Vanessa Sun (she/her)
Coordinator, Economic Transformation (Decarbonization and Just Transition), Vancouver Economic Commission
Vanessa Sun currently works with the Vancouver Economic Commission’s (VEC) Economic Transformation Team to understand how Vancouver’s economy can transition to a net-zero economy in a just and equitable way. She is working with local stakeholders in Vancouver’s economy to ensure all workers will be accounted for as climate policies are implemented. Her other focus of work at the VEC consists of sustainable finance, nature-based economy, and inclusive green economy training.
Magdalena Szpala (she/her)
Director, Sustainability & Resilience, BC Housing
Magdalena Szpala, Director, Sustainability and Resilience at BC Housing. Magda is responsible for strategic leadership in integrating social and environmental priorities into the organization’s activities. This includes planning, reporting and capacity building. Magda was responsible for BC Housing’s first Carbon Neutral Action Report and led the development of BC Housing’s first Climate Adaptation Framework. Her more recent focus areas include extreme heat response and Mobilizing Building Adaptation and Resilience (MBAR) initiative that focuses on resilient building design and renovations.
Funding Manager, Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program, Federation of Canadian Municipalities
Jacquelyn Taylor has worked at FCM since 2009. For the last six years as the Funding Manager for the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program her main role has been ensuring municipalities across Canada have access to funding to adapt to climate change. Her background includes working at an Environmental Consultancy in London, England, where her main job was managing a program of climate change workshops and writing several chapters of ‘The Good Green Guide to Small Businesses’ published in November 2008. During this time, she obtained an MSc in Environmental Management from the University of London.
Coordinator, Economic Transformation (Decarbonization and Just Transition), Vancouver Economic Commission
Brianne Tenk is the Stormwater Management Specialist at the City of Victoria. She is responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of the first stormwater utility in the capital region. Her role is focused on improving stormwater quality and re-introducing the natural water cycle into Victoria’s urban environment using green stormwater infrastructure and other innovative stormwater solutions. Brianne has worked in the public sector for over 15 years, advancing watershed protection and water sustainability in the region.
Senior Lead, Projects, QUEST Canada
Eric is a sustainability and environmental professional with experience in planning and regulatory compliance in the energy sector. As Senior Lead, Projects for QUEST Canada, Eric heads the design and implementation of several strategic projects focused on community energy planning, climate adaptation and resilience, technical and participatory renewable energy mapping and regulatory innovation in the community and energy sectors. Prior to joining QUEST, Eric worked at Energy Efficiency Alberta where he led the design and implementation of renewable and energy efficiency projects throughout Alberta. Eric holds a Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Development and a Bachelor of Environmental Science from the University of Calgary.
Kacia Tolsma, She/Her
LCR Program Manager, ACT - Action on Climate Team, Simon Fraser University
Kacia Tolsma, MRM, is the Low Carbon Resilience (LCR) Program Manager at ACT – Action on Climate Team, SFU. She is passionate about mobilizing practical resources to support municipalities and other organizations in embedding low carbon resilience approaches into strategy, policy, planning, and practice. Kacia has and continues to play a fundamental role in streamlining adaptation and mitigation planning into municipal work and in mainstreaming risk, emissions, and co-benefits across local government strategy and process. She is currently an RPP, MCIP Candidate.
Manager, Capacity Development, GMF
Maria Tomovic (she/her) is the Manager of Capacity Development and Monitoring and Evaluation at FCM’s Green Municipal Fund (GMF). Trained as an engineer and holding an MBA, she has over 15 years of experience working in management and capacity development with clients in the private and public sectors, both in Canada and internationally, and is fluent in English and French. At GMF, Maria manages the Partners for Climate Protection Program and is responsible for capacity development activities related to core offerings, which include the water, energy, land-use, waste, and transportation sectors.
Manager of Sustainability, Assets and Support Services, City of Victoria
Rory is the Manager of Sustainability and Asset Management at the City of Victoria. He established and leads the solid waste engineering and planning function of the City with responsibilities for zero waste and circular economy policies and programs, planning and design of municipal solid waste services and corporate sustainability initiatives. Rory is the current Vice Chair of the Capital Region’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee. He was a founding member of the BC Energy Step Code Council that developed BC’s regulatory pathway to achieve net zero energy buildings and was a member of the project team that led the design of Surrey’s Clayton Community Centre – the largest Passive House facility of its kind. Rory holds a Masters and PhD in natural resources management from the University of British Columbia.
Sustainability Planner, District of Saanich
Glenys Verhulst is a Sustainability Planner with the District of Saanich with over a decade of experience in climate and energy efficiency programs. With the District, Glenys led community engagement for, and was a lead writer of mitigation policy in, the award-winning Saanich Climate Plan. She leads reporting on corporate and community climate action to Provincial and international climate disclosure bodies. She is responsible for implementing corporate and community-mobilizing climate actions, and is advancing climate equity work for the District. Previously, she worked at City Green Solutions, an enterprising non-profit specializing in energy efficiency in buildings.
Climate Change Program Manager, ICLEI Canada
As Climate Change Program Manager for ICLEI Canada, Rena manages primarily adaptation projects alongside ICLEI staff and local and provincial governments. Before joining ICLEI Canada Rena was the Education Coordinator with the Lakehead Region Conservation Authority where she shared her passion for meaningful engagement and connected community members with the outdoors. Rena also spent several years as the City of Thunder Bay’s Climate Adaptation Coordinator as well as the Sustainability Coordinator. In these roles she led and implemented the ongoing monitoring and implementation of the community’s Sustainability Plan and Climate Adaptation Strategy. Prior to these roles Rena was the City of Thunder Bay’s Urban Forest Program Specialist.
Director of Food Security, Mustard Seed
Treska has been the Director of Food Security with the Mustard Seed and Food Redistribution Centre since 2019. Bringing her love of people, strong communication skills and a passion to serve our community, Treska has found her place at the Mustard Seed. When not at work she can be found exploring this beautiful island we call home, travelling and spending time with family and friends.
Manager, Transportation Planning & Development, City of Victoria
In her position in the Engineering & Public Works department, Sarah is responsible for leading a team to design and deliver major infrastructure projects and support land development through transportation planning and policy implementation. Prior to joining Victoria in 2016, Sarah worked at the Capital Regional District supporting transportation planning and infrastructure priorities in sixteen urban, rural and suburban communities on Vancouver Island. Her previous positions at the University of Victoria and the Canadian Urban Transit Association led to her passion for active transportation, TDM programs and shared mobility. Sarah’s research at the University of Oxford in 2019 focused on increasing inter-generational equity and well-being through urban mobility infrastructure and programs. With an emphasis on placemaking, accessibility and sustainable mobility, Sarah is thrilled to showcase the City’s efforts to provide clean, seamless mobility options for everyone.
Principal, Integral Group
Lisa leads Integral’s Canada-wide Policy and Planning team, which focuses on providing clients ranging from local governments to public sector institutions, portfolio holders and provincial bodies with strategic climate action services. Lisa holds a Masters in climate resilience and adaptation from the University of Guelph and a PhD in urban sustainability from UBC. She now brings her combined expertise in decarbonization and resilience planning to the building sector, having designed and led several stakeholder and community engagement processes in planning for climate, energy, and sustainability policies and strategies. Lisa is the author of several academic publications on strategies for increasing climate change resilience and energy and emissions reductions, and was named CaGBCs Green Building Champion in 2019.
Executive Director, Urban Development Institute - Capital Region
Kathy Whitcher brings over 30 years of experience in urban planning and development management. Born and raised in Vancouver, Kathy started her planning career with the City of Vancouver’s Planning Department in 1989. Kathy currently works for the Urban Development Institute-Capital Region as Executive Director where she has held her position for the past 11 years. In her role as Executive Director, she is responsible for the direction, growth and management of the organization and its members. Under Kathy’s direction, UDI Capital Region has grown from a small, one-person run office to a flourishing multi-staff office and where she has more than doubled their corporate membership. Kathy sat on the board of the Downtown Victoria Business Association from 2014 until 2022, holding the position of President from 2018 to 2020.
Senior Planner, Renewable Cities
Peter leads the Smart Growth, Smart Cities program for Renewable Cities at Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. He has more than 20 years of experience in environmental management and community sustainability and brings an unusual combination of expertise to the role, including policy and regulatory expertise, strategic planning, business and change management, and long-term and systems thinking approaches. Peter moved to Renewable Cities from the City of Richmond, where he led regional policy analysis and housing policy projects. Before that, he worked for 14 years in progressively senior consulting roles, eventually as co-owner, management lead and sustainability service lead for MODUS Planning, Design and Engagement. His greatest passion is defining and then driving strategy to create long-term, shared value for colleagues, organizations and communities.
Senior Sustainability Specialist, City of Victoria
Bio Christine Woodhouse is the Senior Sustainability Specialist with the City of Victoria’s zero waste team. Her work focuses on waste reduction within the built environment, helping to transition the City to a future where building materials are recirculated in the community rather than disposed. Christine has over fifteen years of experience in pollution prevention policy and regulation, including twelve years with the BC Ministry of Environment. Christine holds a Master of Applied Science in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of British Columbia and is registered as a Professional Engineer in BC.
Climate Change & Health Lead, BC Ministry of Health
Jade Yehia is a specialist in Human Geography, Environmental Health and a Master of Science (MSc) in Health Impact Assessment. She is a certified Environmental Health Officer and Consultant with fourteen years of experience working for the Federal and Provincial governments. Jade led Island Health’s Healthy Built Environment program for almost a decade before moving to the BC Ministry of Health to support the development of their newly minted Climate Resilience Unit as their Climate Change & Health Lead. She has worked collaboratively across departments in partnership with local governments, academics, and civil service organizations, supporting a grounded Health in All Policies approach. She has expertise in the linkages between climate & health, housing and homelessness, air quality, food safety and security, transportation planning, natural assets, and risk analysis.
Sheri Young (she/her), MSc, ENV-SP
Climate Change and Energy Specialist, Town of Okotoks
After 15 years working on land reclamation in Western Canada, and some graduate studies work with the UN’s Ecosystem Services Platform, Sheri arrived at the Town of Okotoks to manage the development of the Town’s first community-wide greenhouse gas inventory. This spurred her next projects, which included the award-winning Natural and Naturalized Asset Inventory project in 2020 and the Resilient Okotoks: Climate Action Plan in 2021. While much of her work is currently on energy efficiency and infrastructure, Sheri is keenly involved in integrating green and gray infrastructure, for both carbon sequestration and climate adaptation through nature-based solutions.
Steve Young (he/him)
Climate and Environmental Sustainability Specialist, City of Victoria
Steve Young is the Climate and Environmental Sustainability Specialist at the City of Victoria. He has been working in the environmental sector for the past 25 years with the last 10 years focused on addressing climate change within the realm of municipal policy and planning. Steve drafted the City of Victoria’s first climate change adaptation plan, was instrumental in the creation of Victoria’s Climate Leadership Plan and led the development of its EV and E-Mobility Strategy and Green Fleet Plan. He currently leads work on the City’s GHG inventory, GHG modelling and is working on an update to the City’s Climate Leadership Plan.
… and many more. Thank you to all the 2022 session speakers, moderators, panelists, and participants!
The Livable Cities Forum is ICLEI Canada's annual event to bring communities together. ICLEI Canada supports local action to achieve net zero, resilience, sustainability, and biodiversity goals. We provide programming, training, and consulting services on a variety of local climate and sustainability issues.
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