Coun. Vera LeFranc was chair of Surrey's inaugural Social Innovation Summit

Coun. Vera LeFranc was chair of Surrey's inaugural Social Innovation Summit

Surrey’s Social Innovation Summit sparks ideas

Inaugural event sold out, drawing roughly 200 people to city hall Tuesday to talk about new ways of tackling urban issues.

SURREY — Surrey’s inaugural Social Innovation Summit sold out, drawing roughly 200 people to city hall on Tuesday to talk about new ways of tackling urban issues such as the environment, poverty and affordable housing.

“The audience was so diverse,” said event chair Coun. Vera LeFranc.

“We had business there, we had developers there, we had non-profits, just such a diverse group of people. So often we have these conversations with the usual suspects, so we’re preaching to the converted. We really didn’t want to do that with the summit. The audience was one of the biggest successes.”

The summit, which the city has committed to doing for at least another two years, featured speakers such as Hazel Borys of PlaceMakers, CEO of the Centre for Social Innovation Tonya Surman, SFU Surrey’s Stephen Dooley and many more.

The day was a “unique opportunity to hear from local, regional and national voices with a wealth of on-the-ground experience,” said LeFranc, “as well as the creativity to look at even common concerns with new eyes and a fresh approach.”

The city’s goal is also to connect those working on social innovation already in Surrey to create an “eco-system” to support them, according to LeFranc.

The summit was the start of an on-going conversation, she added.

“We will, as a group and as a city, think about what it will require to move some of the big issues of the day to the next level,” she said. “I’m talking about homelessness, there are some really cool ideas around homelessness that we could work on. Or refugees. I think a great quote is that, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’ And that’s what we are going to see in Surrey.”

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com