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What is the Burnaby Community Assembly?

The Burnaby Community Assembly will bring together a representative body of 42 residents who will meet over 7 Saturdays and 1 half-day public workshop to learn, hear from experts and community voices, work through trade-offs and engage in dialogue to create recommendations for Burnaby’s new Official Community Plan (OCP), which sets the long-term vision for managing the city’s growth.


What is a Community Assembly?

A community assembly (also referred to as a residents' or citizens' assembly) is a group of individuals (selected to broadly reflect the full diversity of their communities) that come together to learn, reflect, discuss and present actionable recommendations to decision-makers. A "deliberative wave" of community assemblies and similar processes have been internationally recognized by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for transforming how cities and other levels of government engage residents on complex issues. These processes use modern engagement approaches to address critical shortcomings in conventional engagement by: o Seeking out participants who reflect the full diversity of their communities; o Creating conditions for learning and informed input; o Building empathy; and o Presenting actionable recommendations to decision-makers that can increase the quality, democratic legitimacy and social consensus for City actions.


Who is in charge of this project?

This project is led by Simon Fraser University's Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, an internationally recognized convenor for public and stakeholder engagement with extensive experience engaging Metro Vancouver communities, including the IAP2-recognized Your Voice, Your Home initiative in Burnaby. This project is undertaken in a collaborative, but arm's-length partnership with the City of Burnaby. The Assembly will take place alongside a number of parallel engagement opportunities managed directly by the City to gather input on the development of the Burnaby 2050 Official Community Plan. This project is also supported by The Sortition Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that specializes in recruiting and selecting people by civic lottery to take part in these kinds of events, in a way that is broadly representative of the wider population.


Why are we doing this Community Assembly?

Burnaby, BC’s third largest city, is embarking on the development of a new Official Community Plan to guide and manage growth between now and 2050. This plan will guide the City on issues such as land use, transportation, housing, the environment, community facilities and services and social and economic planning. The City of Burnaby has set out to engage in an Official Community Plan development process that is: visionary; creative and fun; evidence-based and data-driven; benefitting from a “systems thinking” approach; climate-focussed; and innovative and forward-thinking. The Assembly complements other broad-based public engagement processes led by the City of Burnaby in the development of the Official Community Plan, and will help to deepen engagement so that residents have transparent information about the constraints and opportunities faced by decision-makers.


How will the Community Assembly work?

Prior to the Assembly itself, the Centre for Dialogue will engage in a co-design process to ensure that the Assembly responds to the pressing issues facing the City of Burnaby, effectively engages Burnaby's diverse communities, and supports participants with the tools they need to develop recommendations that are both well-informed and actionable by Burnaby City Council. This design process will be informed by discussions with City of Burnaby staff and Council, technical experts on city planning, diverse, knowledgeable, and embedded members of the Burnaby community and prominent community organizations. An Advisory Committee has also been formed to advise on the process and ensure the Assembly is informed by a full range of experiences and perspectives. The Assembly itself will proceed through five phases: 1) Assembly Selection; 2) Learning & Visioning; 3) Deliberation; 4) Finalization; and 5) City of Burnaby Response. First, a civic lottery will be used to select 45 residents to sit on the Assembly, who together will broadly reflect the demographic diversity of Burnaby based on census data. Once Members are selected, the Assembly will start with a phase for learning and visioning to enable members to learn from each other and connect with evidence-based information and diverse perspectives, including discussion materials and presentations from experts and community knowledge holders. Next, the Assembly will enter a deliberation phase where members examine municipal policy options and work through trade-offs in relation to their values and develop draft recommendations for the Official Community Plan. During this phase, the Assembly will seek feedback on its emerging directions from experts, City representatives and the Burnaby community so that they can refine their final recommendations to reflect specific needs within the community, as well as the real-world constraints faced by decision-makers. The Assembly will then finalize their recommendations, and present them to Burnaby City Council, who is responsible for final approval of the Official Community Plan. The City of Burnaby has committed to receive and respond to the Assembly’s recommendations, ensuring the process is transparent and accountable. When the City releases its draft Official Community Plan, the Centre for Dialogue has committed to reconvene representatives from the Assembly to review and provide feedback on this draft. Throughout the process, the Assembly will also engage with the broader Burnaby community, sharing learning materials and inviting input on key issues, creating opportunities for all of Burnaby to get involved in the Assembly.


What is the goal or outcome of this Community Assembly?

The goal of this Assembly is to produce recommendations to inform the Burnaby 2050 Official Community Plan. The Assembly will also build public understanding, engage in dialogue with the broader community, invest deeply in relationships, advance accessibility and inclusion, and support the City’s commitments to Truth and Reconciliation.

Participation in the Assembly

What does taking part involve?

If you are selected to take part you will have the opportunity to meet with individuals from all walks of life in the Burnaby community. You will hear from engaging speakers and you will discuss the relevant issues in small groups, with facilitators to make sure everyone has their voice heard. You do not need to have any prior knowledge of the topics – all the information you need will be provided.


What are the dates and times of the Assembly Meetings?

There will be 7 Community Assembly meetings in the period of February 24 to June 15, 2024. All meetings will take place on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. 1 half-day public workshop was also held in April, 2024. Meetings have been scheduled to best accommodate days of significance for the diverse ethnic and religious communities in Burnaby. Specific meeting dates are: o Saturday, February 24, 2024 o Saturday, March 2, 2024 o Saturday, March 16, 2024 o Saturday, April 20, 2024 o Saturday, May 4, 2024 o Saturday, June 1, 2024 o Saturday, June 15, 2024


Will Assembly Members receive compensation?

Yes. Funding from community partners has made it possible for the Centre for Dialogue to offer honorariums up to $175 for each full-day meeting for Assembly Members who have to miss work to take part in the Assembly or face other financial barriers. This recognizes the significant commitment on behalf of Assembly Members of their time and attention to participate in the process. To reduce barriers to participation, we will also offer additional accessibility supports such as child care and elder care.


How will you ensure that this event is accessible?

In addition to supports to address financial barriers to participation as outlined above, we will also work to ensure the Assembly is highly accessible to the Burnaby community. If you are selected, we will contact you to arrange for any financial or other accessibility supports that are required to ensure your full participation in the Assembly. The Assembly venue features accessible washrooms, elevators and parking. Lunch and snacks will also be provided at all Assembly Meetings. If you have a question about accessibility, please email us at


Can I participate if I speak English as a second language?

Yes. Over 61% of Burnaby residents have at least one mother tongue besides English, and we want to ensure their voices are heard in this process. We encourage those who speak English as a second language to participate. Programming will be designed with the expectation that our Assembly Members will have a diverse backgrounds and levels of English fluency. Accessibility supports in multiple languages will be available for those who need them.


Who can volunteer to participate as an Assembly Member?

Only those who have received an invitation at their mailing address may volunteer to participate. Anyone aged 15 and over (with a few exceptions noted below), and resides at a mailing address that receives one of the 26,000 invitations sent across Burnaby in January 2024 can take part. An unlimited number of people who live at the mailing address that receives an invitation can volunteer, but only one person from that mailing address can be selected to sit on the Assembly. Residents in multi-suite homes with a single mailing address are asked to share invitations with all co-habitants, lodgers, secondary suites, renters, etc. Temporary residents, permanent residents and Canadian citizens are all welcome to volunteer for the Assembly.


Who is ineligible to volunteer as an Assembly Member?

Current elected representatives at any level of government and current employees of the City of Burnaby cannot volunteer as an Assembly Member.


Which households will receive one of the 26,000 invitations?

26,000 mailing addresses in Burnaby will be randomly selected by civic lottery to receive an invitation. To ensure participation and representation from underrepresented or underheard segments of the Burnaby community extra invitations will be sent to postal codes that are more ‘situationally vulnerable’ according to the Canadian Index of Multiple Deprivation.


If I receive and invitation and register my interest, what happens next?

Once registration has closed, 45 people will be selected by lottery from those who registered their interest to take part in the event. The civic lottery process ensures that registrants have an equal as possible chance of being chosen, while also ensuring that Assembly Members broadly represent the spectrum of Burnaby's diverse community. Demographic targets for age, gender identity, language spoken at home, education, home owner/renter status, immigration status and location of residence in Burnaby have been set to match Statistics Canada data. A minimum of three Indigenous participants will be selected as one of many efforts to ensure the perspectives of Indigenous community members are meaningfully incorporated into the process. If you are selected, we will contact you by phone and email in early February to let you know. We will then arrange a call with you to confirm that you can attend, discuss any requirements you may have to make it possible for you to attend, and explain what happens next.


What if I cannot make it to one or some of the Assembly meetings?

Participation in all 7 meetings by Assembly Members is essential to the success of the Community Assembly and the development of Assembly recommendations. Those who volunteer as Assembly Members will be asked to commit to participating in all 7 meetings. If, due to unforeseen circumstances, a member is unable to attend a particular meeting, the facilitation team will work to ensure that they are updated on the proceedings of the meeting they missed. Dispersal of honoraria for missed meetings will be considered on a case-by-case basis.


Can I volunteer as an Assembly Member if I do not live in Burnaby?

No. Invitations will only be sent to residences in Burnaby, and only people living at selected addresses are eligible to volunteer for the Assembly.


Will the names of Assembly Members be publicly disclosed?

The names of Assembly Members will remain confidential throughout the Assembly process to ensure that members are not subject unwanted attention or pressure during the Assembly. After the Assembly, the names of Assembly Members will be published in the final public report.


What will happen after the Assembly?

After Assembly Members have developed their final recommendations for Burnaby’s Official Community Plan, these recommendations and an accompanying report will be presented to Burnaby City Council, who is responsible for final approval of the Official Community Plan. Burnaby City Council has committed to receive and respond to the Assembly's recommendations, ensuring the process is transparent and accountable. The recommendations and report will also be independently published by the Centre for Dialogue. Once the City of Burnaby publishes its draft Official Community Plan, currently scheduled for 2025, the Centre For Dialogue has also committed to reconvene representatives from the Assembly to review and provide feedback on this draft.


Are there other ways to be involved besides being a Member of the Assembly?

Yes. All Burnaby community members will have opportunities to follow Assembly proceedings, receive learning materials from the Assembly, and give feedback to the Assembly as it develops its recommendations. Apart from the Community Assembly, the City of Burnaby is also leading a number of different community engagements to gather feedback on the development of the Burnaby 2050 Official Community Plan.

For more information on opportunities to participate in City-led engagements on the Official Community Plan, please visit the City of Burnaby website here, and subscribe the City of Burnaby eNewsletter here.

Participation FAQ
General Questions

Contact Us


SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue

3300-515 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3
Tel 778-782-9579

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