SHAUNA SYLVESTER is passionate about Vancouver—the city, its people, its neighborhoods, its ocean and mountains, its artistic and cultural diversity, its beauty and its vibrancy.
Born in Nelson BC, Shauna’s family moved to Vancouver when she was 4 years old. She grew up in Coquitlam, New Westminster, Burnaby, Nanaimo and Vancouver and she graduated from St. Patrick’s Regional High (near Main Street and 11th Ave). She raised her family near Commercial Drive and is now a proud resident of the West End.
Shauna has a long-standing record of working for the citizens of Vancouver on issues that matter.
Vancouver’s affordability challenge
She understands how the housing market works, its complexities and importance to diverse interests. She served on the Board of the BC Assessment Authority, a crown corporation that provides market based valuation of the property, buildings and improvements that is the basis of our city’s property tax system. She also was the lead facilitator of the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing, and hosted numerous public dialogues on addressing homelessness, seniors and disability housing and affordable home ownership.
As Victoria and Vancouver embarked on their new transportation plans, they engaged Shauna to convene community consultations. She facilitated Transportation 2040 dialogues in Vancouver, served as the lead convenor for Moving in a Livable Region – a consortium of government, mayors, Translink officials, transportation stakeholders and civil society organizations focused on transportation financing and Moving in Metro –- a citizens consultation process on mobility pricing.
Clean Energy Economy
Shauna is an articulate advocate for renewable energy, clean technology and green infrastructure. She served as a member of the Greenest City Action Team Overview Committee and facilitated numerous city dialogues on issues ranging from density in a city of neighborhoods, district energy, green buildings and financing clean technology. She is the founding Executive Director of Carbon Talks and Renewable Cities, two initiatives that support cities in their transition to a low-carbon economy and in 2017 she was the lead facilitator of Canada’s Citizens Dialogue on Canada’s Energy Future for Natural Resources Canada.
Jobs and Economic growth
Shauna knows and understands the importance of business and employment to the continued vibrancy of Vancouver. From 2003 to 2009, she served on the boards of Vancity Capital Corporation and Vancity Credit Union - Canada’s largest credit union with more than $26 Billion of assets and more than 500,000 members across BC.
Shauna also served for six years on the Board of Directors of MEC - Mountain Equipment Cooperative - Canada’s largest outdoor retailer, including three years as the Treasurer.
Both Vancity and MEC gave Shauna extensive experience and insight into the management of large retail businesses and insight into the complex financial considerations needed to run successful companies in highly competitive business environments.
Shauna also knows small and medium businesses. She grew up working summers in a family tourism operation in Penticton, managed her own consultancy business in Vancouver and served as a board member of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association.
Shauna has distinguished herself as a designer and leader of thoughtful local, regional national and international consultations on issues such as public spaces, parking, urban renewal, municipal financing and the future of cities. She co-designed and led two Community Summits: We The City and Alone Together: Addressing Isolation. She was a part of a team that established City Conversations at SFU an important forum for open public dialogue on urban issues and she co-created Reimagine Downtown, a multi-faceted community design consultation on the future of Downtown Vancouver.
Arts and Culture
Shauna recognizes the vibrant and pivotal role that arts and culture play in our city. She worked in a summer theatre company and produced and distributed independent films in her twenties. She served on the board of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, co-founded Lunch Poems at SFU – a unique monthly public poetry reading series and helped to produce the The Revolving City, a book of poetry edited by Wayde Compton and Renee Saklikar that was a Vancouver Book of the Year Award finalist in 2016.
Universities generate economic activity, jobs, small and medium business start-ups, entrepreneurial spinoffs and a multitude of positive enhancements to their local community. Shauna knows the university sector and its importance to the vibrancy and future of Vancouver.
For over a decade Shauna has worked to bring the community to Simon Fraser University and SFU to the community. She was the founding Executive Director of SFU Public Square and the founder and lead for Canada’s World – a national citizen engagement initiative on foreign policy. In 2016, she was appointed Director of the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, a globally recognized centre for knowledge and practice in dialogue and engagement and was named a Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. In May 2018 Shauna will co-teach her first Semester in Dialogue course on Urban Energy Futures.
Acting Locally and Globally
Shauna has a deep commitment to human rights and development. She was active in the AIDS community in the late 1980s - handing out the first condoms in Vancouver bars and writing the first women and AIDS resource guide. She was part of a movement to bring the global dimension of the HIV/AIDS crisis to North American audiences through the Vancouver World AIDS group and the Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development.
In 1991, she was chosen to lead the Canadian Participatory Committee for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development Forest Working Group. She continued her work on forestry issues and was part of a group that developed Canada’s National Sustainability Plan under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. She worked at IDERA – the International Development Education Research Association, CUSO and went overseas to work in Bolivia and Ecuador with Canada World Youth and Indonesia with Canadian Crossroads International.
Shauna co-chaired the Social Planning and Research Council of BC’s first Community Development Institute, the Civicus World Assembly – a global gathering of 1500 civic organizations held in Vancouver and organized the Canadian preparatory meeting for the Beijing Women’s conference in 1994.
She was part of the Team Vancouver to the COP21 talks in Paris and worked with the Danish Board of Technology in hosting the world’s largest citizen dialogue on climate change in history. For ten years, Shauna supported journalists and women in conflict zones around the world through IMPACS – the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society, a media and democracy organization she co-founded with former parliamentarians Ed Broadbent, Lloyd Axworthy and Ross Reid.
Knowledge and Experience
Shauna knows that solutions to complex urban problems lie in civic engagement; she is committed to using her extensive experience and skill in public consultation to draw out the knowledge, experience, drive and energy of Vancouver’s citizens.
As a management graduate of McGill University with a BA from Simon Fraser University in anthropology, Shauna has a rare mix of training and education that is suited to public service. She is sensible, pragmatic and relationship focused.
Shauna has received numerous awards for her extensive community service including the Globe and Mail Top 40 under 40, Business in Vancouver Top 40 under 40, SFU Outstanding Alumni, a Simons Foundation Global Peace Leader and listed among The Georgia Straight’s 2016 Top 10 Most Influential Women in Post-Secondary Education.
Shauna’s diverse experience and deep knowledge of Vancouver and the issues affecting its future, position her to move quickly to address the many challenges and opportunities facing Vancouver.
She is a bridge builder, a problem solver and a tireless optimist who believes that public service is an honour and a privilege. Shauna seeks to bring her extensive experience to City Hall and build the platform for citizens to actively engage in co-creating solutions to our housing, transportation, climate and affordability issues.