Conference: Federation of Canadian Municipalities

The above photos were taken on public art and heritage tours.

I’ve just returned from five days in Québec City where I attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) annual conference. FCM, which refers to itself as “the voice of Canadian municipalities,” is a member-based organization that provides education to and advocacy on behalf of its members (municipalities).

Through my attendance at FCM I was exposed to new ideas and best practices, made new connections, and have a better understanding about how to work with the federal government in the interest of municipalities. Now the job is to translate all of this into action for the ultimate benefit of this community and the people who live in it!

That’s why, following in the footsteps of Christine Koh, a favourite podcast host of mine, I’m sharing some of what I did and what I plan to do as a result of attending this conference in order to demonstrate the return of investing in this professional development:

  • Attended tours focusing on heritage and public art. This is relevant to my work on council because I sit on the Advisory Committee of Culture, Heritage Committee, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery board of directors.

  • Participated in two workshops led by academic and community experts talking about two pressing community issues: truth and reconciliation with the First Peoples and Nations, and the affordable housing crisis.

  • Shared notes from tours and workshops with relevant staff and council.

  • Made new connections with council and staff from other communities across Canada, including Halifax, Edmonton, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Nanaimo, Saskatoon, Milton, and more.

  • Heard from the leaders of all four major political parties giving me a better introductory understanding of their platforms for the upcoming federal election.

  • Attended the FCM Annual General Meeting (AGM) where I got up-to-date on the work the organization is doing to support municipalities, and voted for the third VP.

  • On the immediate to-do list: Contact someone from St. John’s, NFLD to learn about their community-municipality partnership to address the affordable housing crisis; re-read the city’s public art policy and connect with arts and culture staff to better understand how it came to be and where they see it going; share resources, like this communications guide from the City of Saskatoon, about how municipalities can better work alongside First Nations and people with relevant staff and council.

And, of course, there’s always the lingering energy and enthusiasm from learning new things and meeting new people that helps me to maintain momentum for community building.

Jen Vasic