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New Centre Aims to Accelerate Urban Climate Action in Metro Vancouver

A new low carbon innovation centre aimed at accelerating urban climate action is coming to Metro Vancouver. Simon Fraser University’s Renewable Cities program at the Morris. J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, along with key strategic partners—WCS Engagement + Planning, Rhiza Capital and Lidstone & Company—will support the development of the Metro Vancouver Zero Emission Innovation Centre, which is expected to launch in September 2021.

Over the next eight months, the team will lead stakeholder engagement and strategic planning to establish and launch the Centre. The team combines expertise in nonprofit start-ups, impact investing, governance and community climate action, and will tap into diverse public, private, post-secondary, financial and First Nations interests from across the region to set up the new entity.



Alex Boston, Project Director & Community Energy Specialist: Alex Boston is the executive director of Renewable Cities and a fellow at SFU’s MJ Wosk Centre for Dialogue. For two decades Alex has served BC and Federal Governments, BC Hydro, FortisBC, TransLink and FCM, and has led multiple award-winning community energy plans for municipalities across Greater Vancouver and Canada.


Cheeying Ho, Engagement & Nonprofit Start-up Specialist: Cheeying is the executive director of WCS Engagement + Planning, and has over 20 years of experience in community planning, engagement and sustainability. Her expertise is in facilitation and engagement, and has supported strategic planning for many local governments and non-profit organizations around BC. She has also created and launched diverse programs including the Social Venture Challenge, an Indigenous Tourism Startup program, and a regional food sustainability project. Cheeying has served as the executive director of several influential organizations, including as founding ED of Smart Growth BC.


Brian Smith, Impact Investment and Finance Specialist: Brian is the CEO of Rhiza Capital. He’s led and helped deploy private equity placements and institutional investments that have derived impressive returns and demonstrable impact. He is a co-founding partner in Rhiza Capital, mandated to grow the ecosystem of investments that can support social ventures and apply the principles of business for positive social and environmental impact. Brian co-founded and is the Chair of the Board of Persephone Brewing Company and was the executive director of Community Futures Sunshine Coast for five years.


Don Lidstone, Fiduciary, Legal & Governance Strategist: Don is a managing partner of Lidstone & Company, and has practiced municipal law since 1980. Don has sat on the founding boards of numerous organizations (Sierra Legal Defence Fund, EcoJustice, Whistler Sustainability Centre, SmartGrowth BC) and has provided legal services to establish many other nonprofits, including Columbia Basin Trust and Fraser Basin Council. He has chaired the Sustainable Region Initiative, Liquid Waste Expert Review Panel, Waste Blue Ribbon Panel and Municipal Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, and has consulted on the development of the Community Charter and other municipal statutes.


Brad Doff, Project Manager: Brad is the project manager for Renewable Cities and has several years experience working for local governments and nonprofits on sustainability, strategic planning, and climate mitigation and adaptation. He’s managed B.C’.s progressive green building networks while at the Canada Green Building Council and the Zero Emissions Building Exchange (ZEBx) and has established multiple community sustainability plans, including an award-winning adaptation plan for Thunder Bay’s municipal sustainability office.



Shauna Sylvester, Nonprofit Start-up, Finance & Governance Advisor: Shauna is the executive director of Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and Co-Founder of SFU Public Square. Shauna has extensive experience in organizational development, governance, nonprofit start-ups, and incubation and fundraising. She was the lead facilitator for the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing in Vancouver and has served as the executive director for multiple organizations, including Canada’s World, SFU Public Square, Carbon Talks, and Renewable Cities.


Darcy Riddell, Nonprofit Start-up & Social Innovation Advisor: Darcy is the BC Program Director for MakeWay (formerly Tides Canada). Over the last 20 years, Darcy held roles as a strategist, campaigner, capacity-builder and process designer to advance social change and sustainability, including roles as the Program Director at Hollyhock Leadership Institute and the Director of Strategic Learning at the McConnell Foundation. She has a 10-year history with advancing conservation solutions in the coastal rainforests of Vancouver Island and the Central Coast in the lead up to the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements.

Peter Ladner, Governance & Regional Business Advisor: Peter is a former Vancouver city councillor, Metro Vancouver vice-chair and business owner. Peter was also a Fellow at SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, teaching on the theme Planning Cities as if Food Matters. Peter has more than 40 years of journalistic experience and co-founded the weekly newspaper Business in Vancouver.

Advisors with the City of Vancouver, Metro Vancouver, BC Government and the private sector will also help guide development.

Metro Vancouver ZEIC is one of seven Low Carbon Cities Canada (LC3) centres, a partnership between Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The Centre will be funded through a $21.7 million endowment from the federal government (Natural Resources Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada and Infrastructure Canada), which will be used to identify, finance and scale up local climate solutions, such as building retrofits and electrification of transportation. The Metro Vancouver Zero Emission Innovation Centre will seek to partner with other levels of government, non-profit organizations and the private sector to maximize impact and leverage the endowment, investing in initiatives that drive deep carbon reductions and good financial returns.

For more information on the Metro Vancouver Zero Emission Innovation Centre, please contact Project Manager Brad Doff.

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