Personal New Year's resolutions can make cities better too. That's what On The Coast's urban planning columnist, Brent Toderian, says people should keep in mind in 2016.

Using public spaces, joining in on public discussions and buying local are all things people can do to contribute to a better city, says Toderian, a planning consultant with Toderian UrbanWorks.

"The things that we do to make our cities better, also make our lives better and vice versa."

Toderian urges city dwellers to start small, like hosting a get-together for your neighbours for instance.

"There are choices we can make to be more communal, more public, get[ting] to know our neighbours is just one example."

Even using public spaces like park benches and patios is a civic choice.

"When you're sitting in a public space you're actually contributing to public life and helping people people watch when you're sitting on a patio."

Personal goals can be achieved in a civic and communal way that benefits other people too, he added.

Think local

"The best example of that is you can get in shape on a stationary bike in your gym, or you can get into shape walking, biking or even taking public transit in your city."

Toderian suggests eating at local restaurants and buying groceries from the farmer's market to help Vancouver businesses.

"There are studies that have shown that every dollar that we spend on a local shop compared to a chain shop has more of a multiplier effect on our local economy."

Perhaps most importantly, people need to speak up about what they like about their city, added Toderian. Public discussion shapes cities' identities and futures, he said, referring to this year's transit referendum and the Trump tower debate.

"We've got the power, the opportunity and maybe the obligation to raise our voice through social media, through speaking to the traditional media and going to city hall and making your opinions known."

But it doesn't all have to be negative.

"I've always said, 'Go to city hall and support something.' It shouldn't always be about what you're opposed to at the time," he said.

"What do we love? What do we want to champion to make our cities better?"


To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: New Year resolutions can help cities too, says Brent Toderian.