23 innovative ways to transform our city led by students


CityStudio Vancouver celebrated once again 23 innovative projects to transform our city at our live event and online showcase, HUBBUB 16. Even better, this term brought the biggest number of staff and faculty ever involved in a single term.

Not only were we inspired by students and their innovative proposals on how to make Vancouver more sustainable, liveable, inclusive and joyful. Our partnership model, that facilitates collaboration between academic institutions and municipal governments, helps students to kickstart their careers without having to wait for years to get a chance to do so, and places them at the heart of the change they want to see

During a global crisis where discrimination and inequality have been gravely accentuated and in a particularly challenging year, democratic engagement is our greatest ally. This year, the projects covered crucial issues such as climate action, decolonization, COVID recovery, inclusion, youth engagement and more. This term, 625 students collaborated with 42 staff and 41 faculty in 15 City of Vancouver strategic plans.  

A committee of expert judges selected three projects as this edition’s winners based on criteria such as answering the original question, replicability, potential benefit to the City, and uniqueness. As well, with almost 700 votes, participants selected the People’s Choice award winner  Keep reading!

First Place: Vancouver Plan Youth Outreach Design

UBC, Sociology (SOCI 361)

A program that promotes participation through civic and political literacy for young audiences. Tackling age-based barriers in Vancouver City Hall, this project’s activities aim to create a more equitable future.

Students’ proposal: “The event invites all participating Vancouver youth to engage with and explore the Vancouver Plan: a genuine platform for political engagement where youth are heard. Participants meet with other youth and learn from each other’s perspectives in an event where the City reduces barriers to civic engagement and literacy and invites their contribution, recommendations, and experiences.”

What the judges said: “Empowering youth with civic engagement is important to all of us who live in this great city. Your project is well defined with outcomes that we (the committee) felt were attainable, measurable, and important for youth to have a voice in the community. We look forward to watching and hearing how your outreach project can create conversations about inclusivity and accessibility for an equitable future. Great work to the team!”

Second Place: Erasing Erasure

SFU, History (HIST 372)

A historical awareness program to bring back the untold stories of the indigenous population of Gastown, aimed to reshape and reimage our public spaces. Through a list of interactive activities, this project will bring inclusivity and recognition to Gastown’s community.

Students’ proposal: “Ultimately, our program aims to work with the indigenous community and City of Vancouver to promote indigenous history, culture and create collaborative opportunities for economic growth for the city and community through social awareness and engagement. When we share true stories and history, we create spaces of inclusivity.”

What the judges said: “Erasing Erasure was awarded 2nd place for its strong commitment to building equity, diversity, and inclusion within the city. We felt that educating through the various programming brings timely historical awareness, improves literacy of indigenous history, and resurfaces critical discussions of colonialism in our communities. We also thought that the idea is scalable and could be utilized in creating programming within other historical neighborhoods or communities.”

Third Place: Colour Kits and Connection

SFU, Health Sciences (HSCI 495)

A project designed to raise awareness about emergency preparedness in each and every member of the community. By raising funds from the community and integrating local artists, the project seeks to partner with BC Housing to protect the most vulnerable populations.

Students’ proposal: “Colour, Kits, and Connection is an emergency preparedness event and tool designed to increase the proportion of emergency kits owned by individuals and families living in Vancouver while incorporating artistry and community engagement.”

What the judges said: “What a fantastic way to engage residents of all ages in emergency preparedness, art.  The colouring books alone could be easily inserted into any emergency preparedness outreach program as another tool to get this important message out in a disarming way.”


People’s Choice: St. George Rainway: From Grey to Green

SFU, Environmental Science (EVSC 400)

Green rainwater infrastructure (GRI) captures and cleans rainwater and helps to restore the natural water cycle. GRI also increases biodiversity in urban environments and helps to build climate change resilience. However, community members are often opposed to or skeptical of GRI development. This project is designed to educate and engage diverse demographics on the forthcoming St George Rainway GRI project in Mount Pleasant in alignment with Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy through social media, school workshops and an iNaturalist citizen science project. This project can also serve as a template for future GRI engagement.

Congratulations to the winners.  These and all 23 innovation projects are opportunities for learning and a reflection of youth’s creativity, City staff and faculty commitment, and the need of collaboration to better the world.