Last month marked the third annual RED Talks event; an initiative bringing people together to talk about Real Estate in Vancouver. This year’s theme – “confronting consensus” – explored urban decision-making, the need for neighbourhood advocacy and a test of the question: do you care what happens in your backyard?

Four speakers presented topics ranging from the role of data versus the use of intuition to how can a city perfect its decision-making to create the happiest, most liveable place for its citizens.

The Playhouse Theatre was buzzing even before the doors opened. Outside, the theatre was covered in 5,000 custom-designed biodegradable red balloons. The eye catching art installation was created by Jihan Zencirli of Geronimo Balloons of Los Angeles. Inside, during the cocktail reception, visitors found a Kohler exhibition showcasing beautiful sink displays, as well as a Modo vehicle display. Following a musical opening performance by local singer Stephanie Standerwick, event Master of Ceremonies Renu Bakshi kicked off the talks.

The first speaker, Nick Buettner, the Community and Corporate Program Director for Blue Zones, shared stories about different parts of the world where people live longer, healthier, happier lives. He talked about ways to make our built environment more liveable and how to create healthier places for residents. According to Nick, when the healthy choice is the easy choice, favourable conditions for longevity are created.

Next, Sonja Trauss, a YIMBY – Yes In My Back Yard – housing activist from the San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation (SFBARF), talked about challenges encountered with the way many municipalities collect feedback on housing initiatives. Sonja encourages people who have been priced out of rental or ownership markets to get out and get involved by attending planning meetings and supporting new development projects.

Following Sonja, Paul Kershaw, UBC Professor and founder of Generation Squeeze, talked about the issues of affordability that different generations are facing. Paul talked about how mobilizing and showing up can impact change.

The final speaker of the evening was Steven Levitt of Freakonomics. Steven shared interesting anecdotes on the use of data in decision making and the difficulties related to change.

As the Presenting Partner, Wesgroup encourages conversation and learning from the experiences of other world-class cities. RED Talks sponsors this year also included Kohler, BFL Canada, Fasken Martineau, IBI Group, BC Real Estate Foundation, TD Canada Trust, Perkins+Will, TELUS, Stantec, Nemetz (S/A) & Associates Ltd, Form Retail Advisors, Exceeds Inc., Advanced Parking, BMO, Trail Appliances, Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc., Tom Lee Music, InterCAD, Yardi and Scotiabank.

To read more about RED Talks, visit the website here.

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