500 people to attend CivicAction summit to look for solutions to GTHA's problems

Rising and established leaders from business, government, and community sectors will attend Canvas, CivicAction’s 2019 Summit.

Event opens Monday at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Mayor John Tory speaking at the 2015 CIvicAction Summit - Better City Bootcamp. (Alyssa Katherine Faoro)

Five hundred people from various sectors will converge on the Art Gallery of Ontario Monday to look for solutions to some of the biggest urban challenges facing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Rising and established leaders from the business, government, academic and community sectors will attend Canvas, CivicAction's 2019 Summit.

Alyssa Lai, a communications professional and a volunteer for CivicAction, will attend the summit, which will be live-streamed on CivicAction's website starting at 9 a.m.

She moved to Canada from Malaysia in 2008 as an international student, and says she has encountered challenges with inclusion and diversity throughout her work.

"Being a person that is under 30, a person of colour, as well as a woman, I see and hear a lot of barriers when it comes to leadership or access to positions of power or authority," Lai said.

Inclusion and diversity happens to be one of the five issues that CivicAction is tackling at this year's summit, which is held every four years. The others are: the future of work, affordable housing, sex trafficking, and natural disasters and extreme weather.

During the one-day event, participants will establish an action plan to tackle those challenges.

One idea is selected for each topic, and the work is expected to be carried out in the years leading up to the next summit.

Alyssa Lai will be one of 500 people attending the CivicAction Summit on Monday. (Supplied)

Going into the summit, Lai is looking forward to being challenged and collaborating with a wide range of people to exchange ideas.

"It's an opportunity for me to be immersed in civic issues on a regional level," she said.

Crowdsourcing solutions 

Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of Civic Action, says the organization chooses the topics partly by looking at the most pressing issues addressed in studies and reports for the region.

"It's also looking at other jurisdictions around the world and saying, 'What urban issues are you grappling with that we should have our arms around here?'" she said.

Sevaun Palvetzian, the CEO for CivicAction, says 'we believe in collective impact and the wisdom of crowds.' (CBC)

But for CivicAction to take on the topic, Palvetzian says, it needs to be one that all sectors can have a role in resolving.

Previous summits have tackled issues including mental health in the workplace and the growing need to match seniors' healthcare to housing options.

"We believe in collective impact and the wisdom of crowds, and the summit that happens on Monday, in effect, crowdsources our operational plan."


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