ROB NOLAN, CHAIR
I have a background in leadership and change management in public and non-profit sectors. I’m passionate about sustainable development and building healthy communities from the grassroots level.
I believe the most pressing issues for St. John’s right now are accessibility and inclusion. As we grow in terms of physical boundaries, age, diversity, and population, we need to ensure St. John’s supports the health and happiness of current and future residents. I believe Happy City plays a key role in empowering residents to participate in our community and to contribute to the ideas and decisions that improve St. John’s.
I value many things about a neighbourhood, but would put walkability and amenities at the top of the list. I love being able to walk to get a coffee in the morning or to purchase milk and eggs at a corner store, while meeting neighbours on the sidewalk.
JENNIFER CROWE, VICE-CHAIR
With a background in youth and community engagement, I am interested in how we create engaged and resilient communities where people feel connected and able to effect change.
I believe that the most pressing issue in this city is collaboration. Too often, citizens aren’t immersed in the decision making processes that affect them the most. When we feel that they have a say in how our city is developed, and how policies are implemented, we feel more connected to the place that they call home. Happy City enhances the way that citizens engage with their city – from consultations, to survey; summits to podcasts – Happy City provides a vehicle for engagement and a way to have your say!
In my neighbourhood, I value accessibility. The ability to run down the street and be met with miles of trail, or walk down the road to a pond (or a couple kilometres and up Signal Hill), is a unique component of living in St. John’s. Ensuring that a city has a blend of nature/green space, access to amenities, and an affordable cost of living is what contributes to a strong and vibrant neighbourhood or city.
JUSTIN GRAHAM DEARING, SECRETARY
People are often removed from how they could be effectively playing a role in how our community is built and shaped. Often, I find people are in one of two camps – Camp A: upset, frustrated, venting, complaining, wanting things to be different; Camp B: choosing to disconnect from the issues out of apathy, feeling fed up, or believing that the processes are flawed or corrupt so why bother? For me, this represents where we could do some AMAZINGLY impactful work together. Create realistic & effective ways for people to play roles which apply their concerns and determination in a meaningful, healthy, and collaborative way!
In a neighbourhood, I value a common sense of place, belonging, and shared responsibility – similar to how a family collectively is responsible for their home. In a home we all try our best to pitch in – to do our part. You quickly see that lots of little efforts really do make a difference to the overall home. A city is just a collection of neighbourhoods; which are a collection of homes and families. We all care, we just need to expand the reach of what we care about. I value other people as equals and their concerns are equal to my own because we are all in this together – literally. We are all in this city space sharing the issues, opportunities, and outcomes.
JOSHUA SMEE, PAST CHAIR
I come from a background in nonprofit governance and community development. My work focuses on bringing people together to solve complex problems and on finding rigorous ways to measure progress on social issues
Broadly speaking, I think the biggest issue at hand in St. John’s is how to leverage the many assets we have – vibrant culture, built heritage, physical beauty – to help build community resilience in the face of economic downturns. I think Happy City has many roles to play here – in particular, by creating space for bigger-picture conversations about where our city is going, by demystifying and getting people engaged with municipal affairs, and by advocating for the power of thoughtful design and planning decisions.
In a neighbourhood, I value the ability to live my life within it – to have what I need within walking distance and a community of people I value. I also think inclusion is critically important – people from all backgrounds need to feel welcomed for a neighbourhood to be really whole. In a city, I value many of the same things – inclusion, and community. Beyond that, though, I value a city that supports placemaking, that has a locally specific architecture and design, and has a culture of risk-taking and experimentation.
I have a background in journalism, communications, and social work. My work and volunteerism involve collaborating with local organizations to foster safe, healthy, inclusive communities for all.
One of the most pressing issues in St. John’s right now is making sure it is a city that is accessible to all its citizens. Ensuring adequate transportation services, building more cycling infrastructure, and improving the usability of pedestrian spaces for all abilities are priorities that would enable all citizens to work, study, play and explore wherever and whenever they desire. Making sure that accessibility is a year-round commitment, and not just one for the snow-free months, is essential in helping all citizens feel supported and included.
St. John’s has many distinct neighbourhoods, which are a major part of what makes the city so vibrant and unique. The key things that stand out to me as being most valuable in a neighbourhood are walkability and bikeability, easy access to nearby amenities and, in particular, lots of public green space (the more, the better!). Each of these things can encourage a stronger sense of community and contribute to neighbourhoods that are inclusive spaces for all residents and visitors.
Newfoundland & Labrador is proud of our inclusivity, but we can do better. Inclusivity means: recreation facilities & programs accessible to all socioeconomic groups; reliable transit that meets all needs; informing & engaging citizens with political issues on levels that work for everyone; and addressing biases (conscious & unconscious). Happy City enhances civic literacy, making city politics digestible & providing ways to get involved. We a) facilitate community exchanges, taking a neutral stance while connecting citizens; b) foster healthy physical engagement with our environment; and c) strive to create space for all people.
The ideal neighbourhood has a vibrant mixture of backgrounds & cultures, were multiple races & religions can be seen & celebrated. It has collective groups that bring people together and spaces where they can gather both indoors and out. It is a home to cafes, restaurants, leisure centres and shops. A great city has ample urban green space and accessible proximity to rural nature (hiking trails, waterfalls, etc.). It has a supportive and active art scene, accessible options to buy local (a farmer’s market and neighbourhood shops), and reliable, integrated transit systems allowing you to move around the city with ease.
I am an urban planner and landscape architect who believes that true participatory community engagement is the cornerstone of well-planned neighbourhoods that promote social and economic vitality.
The most pressing issue for St. John’s right now is preserving our iconic downtown, both the commercial core the residential neigbourhoods. Happy City can be a powerful voice advocating for good urban design and development interventions that support and preserve our historic buildings, structures and space.
In a neighbourhood or city, I value walkable, pedestrian oriented streets, and commercial and recreational opportunities that encourage residents to live and interact with the community.
As St. John’s grows, more and more issues will become apparent, from parking and services to democratic reform. Happy City can help residents stay informed and facilitate a forum to discuss solutions to help shape the city for the better.
In a neighbourhood I value livability; its great to have an accessible neighbourhood with diverse people and places all within a few minutes walk. Also, a neighbourhood or city that appreciates and protects its green space.
I have a background in urban geography and long experience in urban issues, especially at the neighbourhood level.
St. John’s needs to determine a balance between outward growth and increasing density, along with providing appropriate mixes of uses in all areas. HC can help by fostering dialogue and insisting on transparency.
In a neighbourhood or city, I value diversity of residents and neighbourhood-appropriate uses, coupled with attention to heritage and the environment.
Photos by Brad Greeley