Resources: 2005 Policy & Neighbourhood Revitalization Forum

Virtually every city in the country faces some form of serious challenge whether in housing, literacy, poverty, drug use, unemployment or crime. But where does the interested citizen, city councillor, public servant, service provider or voluntary organization go to find out about alternatives to our present methods?

On October 25th in Ottawa, selected experts from various countries, including the UK, US, Australia and Canada, convened for a special invitational forum to explore ways in which government can work more effectively to assist local neighbourhoods in their efforts to grapple with complex local problems.

Organized by the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, the forum attracted an estimated 160 participants representing communities participating in Action for Neighbourhood Change (ANC) and Vibrant Communities as well as representatives from federal government departments.

On this webpage we profile the Forum, which built on the experience of the ANC local sites and was structured around three major themes:

  • Making the case for government investment in neighbourhood revitalization.
  • Working horizontally within government (setting common objectives and the machinery required for complex files).
  • Evaluating comprehensive community initiatives.

On this page you’ll find a summary of the forum, speaker biographies and presentations, an audio recording of one of the presentations, some additional resources and related links.

Learn more:


Making the Case for Neighbourhood Investment

What’s the case for investing in comprehensive neighbourhood and community initiatives? What mechanisms enable governments and communities to better align their efforts? How do we evaluate these initiatives to ensure resources are well used and that lessons are captured to strengthen the work?

On October 25, 2005, the Action for Neighbourhood Change Policy Forum brought together an estimated 160 participants to explore these key questions. Included were representatives from fifteen federal government departments, as well as community practitioners from the Action for Neighbourhood Change and Vibrant Communities initiatives.

The spirit of the event was captured in an opening video prepared by the National Film Board. Powerful images of concerned citizens signalled the extent of the challenges faced by some communities. Yet residents also expressed both determination and hope. Working together, with appropriate support from government, they saw concrete measures local people could take to revitalize their communities.

Guest speakers from Canada, the UK, Australia, the Netherlands and the US expanded on this theme. The Honourable Joe Fontana, Minister of Housing and Labour, signalled the Canadian government’s commitment to the work initiated through Action for Neighbourhood Change. He called for renewed efforts to break down ‘silos’ that weaken the ability of federal government departments to collaborate in support of neighbourhoods.

Duncan Maclennan, a leading international researcher, described the logic that has led other governments to support place-based initiatives. Neighbourhoods, he said, are where a wide range of ‘people policies’ interact. By coordinating these policies and customizing them to address the realities of individual communities, local capacity can be more effectively built. Such ‘micro policy’ enables households and communities to take advantage of the opportunities that ‘macro policies’ create.

Other presenters shared experiences from various countries. Alan Riddell, Director Operations at the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit (NRU) in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, described the mechanisms the UK government has employed to support its extensive neighbourhood renewal program. He emphasized the role played by Local Service Partnerships that link government and other participants in community initiatives. Anne Kubisch, Co-Director of the Aspen Roundtable on Community Change, considered the American experience, she highlighted the need for community groups to strengthen their capacity to influence external structures such as national governments. She proposed strategies communities can use and described the expanded role that governments can play in support of community initiatives.

An underlying theme of the Forum was the importance of citizen involvement. Dr. Wendy Sarkissian, a social planner specializing in community participation, described the role that citizen engagement processes can play. While they require time, effort and skilled facilitators, such processes are crucial for enabling local residents to take the lead in renewing their communities.

In the end, the Forum returned to community stories as a focal point for this work. A discussion of evaluation emphasized the need to use stories to give meaning to the work. Quantitative outcomes are important, presenters said, but stories are needed to show their real significance and to capture the dynamics of these initiatives.

A major outcome from the day was a list of priority issues for advancing this work in Canada. Four key areas were identified: governance, capacity-building, accountability and funding.

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Speakers & Presentations:

Conférenciers et conférencières (notes biographiques) cliquez ici.

Session #1: Making the case for neighbourhood revitalization
Neighbourhood Revitalisation by Duncan Maclennan

Duncan Maclennan - Duncan Maclennan is currently a visiting professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, the University of California and at the University of Glasgow. He also chairs the Joseph Rowntree Foundation committee on Easing Shortages of Housing.

Duncan Maclennan was Director of the UK’s leading research centre for Housing and Urban Research from 1983-1999 and directed the UK national research program on Cities (1996-99) while also acting as Economic Advisor to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (1988-2000). He has advised OECD, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the United Nations, the European Union, the governments of Sweden, Spain, France and Poland on housing and city issues. He has acted as an advisor to the UK Treasury and other Departments. In Scotland, Duncan Maclennan served on the Board of the National Housing Agency (Scottish Homes) from 1989 to 2000 and from 1999-2003, he was one of five key policy advisors to the First Minister (Premier) of Scotland.

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Session #2: International perspectives on neighbourhood revitalization
Urban Renewal, Neighbourhood Revitalization and the Role of Housing Associations: The Dutch Experience by Hugo Priemus

Dr. Hugo Priemus - Dr. Hugo Priemus is Dean of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management and a professor in System Innovation Spatial Development at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Dr. Priemus has worked as researcher, lecturer, professor and administrator at universities in the Netherlands, Sweden, France and the UK. He was a professor of Housing and Dean of the School of Architecture at Delft University of Technology. He was a professor of Policy Studies and Technology, European Facility for Land Use and Development in Straatsburg, France. He also has been a visiting professor, School of the Built Environment at the Montfort University in Leicester, UK and at the Department of Urban Studies, University of Glasgow.

Dr. Priemus is a member of several engineering councils and editorial boards, and a Commissioner of the Dutch Municipalities Bank.

Dr. George Galster - Dr. George Galster earned his Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T., with undergraduate degrees from Wittenberg University and Case Western Reserve University. He has published more than 100 scholarly articles and several books, primarily on the topics of metropolitan housing markets, racial discrimination and segregation, neighborhood dynamics, residential reinvestment, community lending, and insurance patterns and urban poverty. Dr. Galster has acted as consultant to government, nonprofit and for-profit organizations and has taught at several American universities. He served as Director or Housing Research at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC, before assuming his current position as Clarence Hilberry Chair of Urban Affairs at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.

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Session #3: Engaging citizens in neighbourhood revitalization
Engaging citizens in neighbourhood revitalization: Some Insights from Australian Practice by Wendy Sarkissian

Dr. Wendy Sarkissian - Dr. Wendy Sarkissian is a planner specializing in community participation and social planning. Dr. Sarkissian’s 1996 doctoral dissertation received the 1998 National Award for Excellence for Planning Scholarship from the Royal Australian Planning Institute. Her academic career has included teaching in schools of architecture, landscape architecture and planning in Australia and abroad. Dr. Sarkissian is a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia. Her firm, Sarkissian Associates Planners Pty Ltd, has been active in community consultation and participation processes for many years. She is co-author of the multi-award winning series, Community Participation in Practice (1994-2002), which produced practical advisory material for planners and others conducting participation processes. Dr. Sarkissian is currently the Consultation Advisor in the New South Wales Department of Housing, managing community consultation for the Department’s first Public Private Partnership in suburban Sydney.

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Session #4: The mechanics of comprehensive community initiatives
The National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal by Alan Riddell

Alan Riddell - Alan Riddell has been Director Operations at the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit (NRU) in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (UK) since January 2002.

The NRU is responsible for leading efforts in England to narrow the gap between the most disadvantaged communities and the rest, through a mixture of working with the major relevant government departments to achieve targets for change in their policy areas; providing supplementary funds to the most deprived local authority areas and both working with them and challenging them to improve delivery for their most disadvantaged areas; and developing specific initiatives at the neighbourhood level such as New Deal for Communities, neighbourhood management and community empowerment. Alan Riddell has direct responsibility for all but the first of these workstreams.

Before taking up his present post Alan Riddell spent three and a half years as Director of the Government Office for the East of England, as the Senior Civil Servant coordinating the work of a number of Government Departments in that region, and many years before that with the Department of the Environment, latterly heading the Division dealing with the Single Regeneration Budget and European Funds. He was Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for the Environment from 1992 to 1994, and Secretary to the Committee on Standards in Public Life (The Nolan Committee) from 1994 to 1997.

Alan Riddell is Chair of the Standards Committee of Sevenoaks District Council, and a Lay Chair for the NHS SE Region Complaints Panel. He was a founding committee member of the Empty Homes Agency, and recently has joined the board of Town and Country Housing Group.

Anne C. Kubisch - Anne Kubisch is the Co-Director of the Roundtable on Community Change at The Aspen Institute. The 21 members of the Roundtable are leaders in the field of community revitalization and social policy, representing the policy, funding, academic and practitioner communities. The members meet regularly to distill lessons that are being learned by the current generation of comprehensive, community-building initiatives and to work on cross-cutting problems facing the field.


Want to know more about CCIs & the American experience? Click here for additional resources and video clips of Anne sharing some lessons learned about about CCIs in the United States!

Related Links:

Anne directs a number of Roundtable projects on topics such as evaluation, structural racism, and public and private sector engagement in community change. She is the lead author on the Roundtable’s two books on lessons learned about comprehensive community initiatives across the country (titled Voices from the Field I and II) and has co-edited two books on new approaches to evaluating community initiatives. She is co-author of the Roundtable’s 2004 publication Structural Racism and Community Building, and has written numerous papers and articles about various aspects of community building and community change.

Prior to directing the Roundtable, Anne spent 10 years at the Ford Foundation, initially working on Latin American programs, then as Representative in Nigeria, and finally as Deputy Director of the Urban Poverty Program.

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Session #5: Evaluating Comprehensive Community Initiatives

Dr. John Mayne - John Mayne is an independent advisor of public sector performance. He has been working with a number of organizations, including the International Development Research Centre, the OECD, the European Union, the World Conservation Union and Heritage Canada on performance measurement, evaluation and accountability issues. Until 2004, he was at the Office of the Auditor General where he led efforts in developing practices for effective performance measurement, managing results and performance reporting in the government of Canada, as well as leading the Office’s audit efforts in accountability and governance. He has authored numerous articles and reports, and edited five books in the areas of program evaluation, public administration and performance monitoring. In 1989 and in 1995, Dr. Mayne was awarded the Canadian Evaluation Society Award for Contribution to Evaluation in Canada.

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Action for Neighbourhood Change was in operation from 2005-2007. This site exists to capture and share the learnings that emerged from this initiative, but new material is no longer being added on a regular basis. ANC is not responsible for the content of external links, which may change; however, if you find a broken link, please let us know.