Surrey City Hall will host the third annual Social Innovation Summit on Nov. 15. (File photo)

Surrey’s Social Innovation Summit sparks ideas

Summit focused on protecting vulnerable, engaging youth and tackling housing, poverty and addiction

CITY CENTRE — In a word, Surrey’s third annual Social Innovation Summit was “amazing,” said Councillor Vera LeFranc.

“Year one was just trying to get a sense of what social innovation really was, year two we built on that and this year people came ready to dive in,” LeFranc told the Now-Leader Thursday.

The sold-out event at Surrey City Hall Wednesday brought together community, business, academic and political leaders to “create economic wealth and inclusive communities for all,” according to a release.

More than 250 people attended.

This year’s one-day summit, called Social and Economic Inclusion: Cities as Solutions, had eight sessions and two workshops focusing on “bringing together business, government, the social services sector and academics to protect our most vulnerable citizens, engage our youth, and deal with housing, unemployment, poverty, addiction and other health and safety issues.”

LeFranc said it’s now time to ask, “where do we go from here?”

“We all want to take a step back and do a debrief and see what the results have been over the last three years, there have been interesting projects arise because of the summit. We want to make sure we capture that and learn how to drive that impact,” she said.

See also: Surrey’s Social Innovation Summit sparks ideas (Nov. 25, 2015)

“One of the most exciting things we did was we hired ambassadors from Semiahmoo House… and having social enterprise provide the food, which had rave reviews. It was a Syrian women’s collective that provided the food,” she added.

LeFranc said she’s excited about a project in the works that came out of last year’s summit.

“The city has applied for funding for an indigenous child poverty innovation lab from the Vancouver Foundation,” she said. “We’re hoping we’ll receive the funding to do that. We are really excited about moving forward on that.”

Surrey has 16,000 Indigenous people in the city, LeFranc noted.

And, nearly half of Indigenous children in Surrey are living in poverty.

“I think that’s the highest number in all of Canada,” she remarked.

Back at this year’s event, LeFranc said there were two “dynamic speakers,” International Affairs Columnist for The Globe and Mail Doug Saunders, and CBC Radio One’s Cross Country Checkup host Duncan McCue.

“Doug Saunders talked about the City of Surrey being an arrival city, or really having a bunch of arrival cities within it,” said LeFranc. “Duncan McCue spoke about indigenizing the city.”

Fred Kent, president of Project for Public Spaces also led a placemaking workshop, “Catalyst for Developing the City of the Future.”

Read more about the Surrey Social Innovation Summit at

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