Building Festive Engagement

A way to increase youth engagement in city planning through festivals and public events.




Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences


SA 402


  • Bascom Guffin

City of Vancouver:

  • Jason Hsieh

Student Team:

  • Robyn Haydock
  • Caris Ip
  • Zoe Koenigsfest


  • City Plan


Fall Semester 2019


For our project we were asked to consider how the City of Vancouver could better engage youth in city planning. We found that festivals and public events provide a good opportunity for the City to engage with a variety of members of the public because these comparatively informal spaces not only bring people together, but they also tend to be fun and welcoming environments where people feel at ease and enjoy themselves. We recommend that the City of Vancouver use these settings to set up a well-designed booth that could be used at a variety of events that is adaptable to different contexts. Some key strategies and elements we recommend that the City implement within the event context include: (i) training of friendly, approachable and knowledgeable staff, (ii) having an enticing and educational booth, (iii) setting the booth up in a prime location, (iv) making use of sit-down spaces, and (v) including a response wall.

Attendees of festivals and public events tend to have time to spare and are usually open to talking. This means that festivals and public spaces provide an opportunity for the City to engage people in fairly low-stakes ways, as well as to promote city planning initiatives overall. Over the course of our research, we discovered a wide variety of strategies for engagement, with varying degrees of success. Some of the successful methods included free samples and other giveaways, interactive or engaging components, seating areas, and friendly staff. Some things we saw that did not work as well were long periods of a single activity, invisibility of city sponsors, and disengaged staff at booths. Some additional lessons we learned are the importance of shifting approaches based on context, meeting people where they are, and the possibility of using similar approaches to engage with people in public spaces other than festivals and events.

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