Tuesday, April 24, 2018

North Coast Innovation Lab releases results from community engagement sessions

Ecotrust Canada's North Coast
Innovation Lab has released a
report that outlines its plans
for the next few years

The North Coast Innovation Lab has released some background on its work since setting up shop through the offices of Ecotrust Canada in the Capitol Mall.

With the latest group to take up the challenge of building the community delivering a 36 page report last week which explores some of the themes of note from their community engagement work to date.

The document provides for a blue print for their future plans and explores a range of issues that they have taken note of through their work so far in Prince Rupert.

The wide ranging overview offers up key ten insights from their work and among some of those themes are the creation of networks around the community to share information on issues in the community, address communication gaps, the celebration of Indigenous cultures in the community and a look at some of the challenges that have been found to improve Prince Rupert.

Mayor Lee Brain, who has been a strong supporter of the Ecotrust Canada plans and has welcomed the concept of the Innovation Lab from its introduction to Council a few moths ago, gets a significant shout out in the ten key insights from the document.

With some words that might just find their way onto some campaign literature, or a Facebook post or two later this year, as we head off to the voting booth.

In the opening notes for the report the Mayor is hailed as "a beacon of hope and inspiration for many community members, who see his leadership as welcoming change to status-quo government and share his "vision" for a strong independent Prince Rupert." 

A review of the report does seem to offer up how much in sync that Ecotrust is with the current City council, with many of their themes making for topics that have been championed over the last four years not only by Mayor Brain, but by Councillors Mirau, Thorkelson and Cunningham.

As you review the document, it at times, almost serves as a echo chamber for many of the initiatives that have been introduced, or suggested by City Council since the current collective took office.

Among some of the concepts that have made for Council Discussion contributions that are mirrored in the North Coast Innovation Lab's report are:

Waterfront development, Downtown revitalization and residential housing and affordability also make for some of the currents of the report as does the call of the community for better access to seafood, something which will fit in nicely with City Councillor Barry Cunningham's often mentioned desire to see a Fish Market set up at the Cow Bay Marina Docks.

The report for the most part provides for an explanation as to what the North Coast Innovation Lab is all about, which puts the focus on how the Prince Rupert model will be based on social change labs found worldwide, with one in the Downtown Eastside used as an example of how the initiative could be able to deliver results.

The lab which is led by Nathan Randall at Ecotrust Canada, will follow five guiding principles as it moves forward with its work.

They include: Tangibility, Recognition, Ambition, Inclusion and Integrity

The Innovation lab has a long term goal to increase social and economic resiliency for the community and over the first three years will be looking to achieve six objectives.

1. Spark innovative, collaborative, community-led projects using Social Innovation Lab methodology to address complex systemic problems 

2. Acknowledge, complement and activate existing community-wide development initiatives 

3. Prototype and nurture small, rural and remote community partnerships with academic institutions 

4. Develop student talent for social innovation in rural, northern and industry-dependent communities and economies 

5. Enhance the capacity of new and existing businesses, community organizations, and local “champions” to realize their own potential 

6. Build a culture of social innovation and collaborative community development within Prince Rupert

The report recounts a number of takeaways compiled through interviews with 45 local residents, ranging from civic employees and elected officials, to union leaders, members of local social and community agencies, First Nations leaders, as well as business, media representatives and other community members.

Their collection of contributors explored themes of Challenges and Barriers, Strengths and opportunities, how to build a thriving, vibrant and sustainable Prince Rupert and the roles of culture in community building.

How the Innovation lab hopes to have an impact on the community and some of the other innovative and collaborative projects that they may wish to explore are also outlined, with a focus there on place-making, small business and entrepreneurship, information and resource sharing and projects for youth.

Building on the past work of Redesign Rupert also makes for a large portion of the reports review, as the Innovation lab explored some of their findings.

Looking ahead the NCIL will put its focus on nine Key areas, they include:

Co working information and resource sharing

Growing the local economy for fish and marine products

Downtown revitalization, place-making and livability

Economic diversification through entrepreneurship

Creating low barrier income opportunities through social enterprise

Cultural economy building

Youth engagement and participation

Bridging the socio-economic "divide"

Enhancing and supporting volunteerism

From those Key areas, the plan ahead for the first year is to explore four major themes.

How might we grow the local economy for fish and marine products in Prince Rupert?

How might we enhance co-working, information sharing and resource sharing?

How might we develop social enterprise and entrepreneurship in Prince Rupert?

How might we engage youth in downtown revitalization and place-making?

The full report from the North Coast Innovation Lab can be reviewed here

You can view more of the work of the North Coast Innovation Lab and ask questions of their plans for the years ahead tomorrow night.

The NCIL will be set up in the lobby of the Lester Centre as part of Mayor Brain's Town Hall presentation that will update the much heralded Hays 2.0 vision plan from the City, that event gets underway at 7PM.

Some of our past notes on the arrival of Ecotrust Canada in the community can be found below:


March 29 -- BC Rural Dividend Program delivers 1.76 million dollars for projects across Northwest
March 28 -- Ecotrust Canada lays out their agenda for the months to come on community initiatives
March 26 -- Ecotrust Canada to provide update to City Council on range of community plans
March 23 -- Ecotrust Canada gains $100,000 award for innovation lab plans in Prince Rupert
March 5 -- Social Innovationn the theme for Ecotrust's Prince Rupert presentation March 8th at NWCC
March 2 -- Commercial fishing makes for the theme of latest Fish Notes in Legislature from MLA Rice

February 2 -- North Coast well represented at Fisheries conference in Vancouver


November 17 -- Ecotrust takes up residence downtown in Capitol Mall


October 27 -- Mayor Brain hails success of Redesign Rupert Recharge event over the weekend
October 27 -- Ecotrust Canada presentation highlights community engagement on the North Coast


May 22 -- Report on Fishing Industry highlights the changing times facing Prince Rupert's once dominant industry


November 27 -- A community based fishery the goal of organizers of a community forum next week

Further background on community development notes can be explored through our review of Redesign and sustainable city initiatives here.

For more items related to issues around the city see our City Council Discussion page.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.


  1. Mayor Brain is referred to as a 'beacon of hope' etc, but the rest of the council is strangely absent from the narrative. Where do they fit in? Or are they part of the 'status quo government' to which he is an alternative?

    According to BC Stats, between 2014 and 2017 Prince Rupert's population declined from 12,445 to 11,293. That more than a 9% drop. It's hard to envision a turn around without some decisive action and a united approach by the entire City council.

  2. Community engagement generally focuses on engaging communities or groups of people, not just individuals.
    Community Engagement