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WTC's Field Trip To Vancouver City Hall

Last week WTC members and fellow community organizers joined staff on a field trip to Vancouver City Hall.

At WTC, one of our goals is to make engaging in local government just a little bit more accessible. Bringing together our community and inviting folks from different organizations like Mosaic, East Van Roasters, Marpole Neighbourhood House, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, and Chrysalis Society to explore City Hall, is one of the ways we’ve worked towards that goal over the last year. Before the field trip, only one of our participants had ever visited City Hall!

The field trip had a significant impact on those who attended as shown in our follow-up survey where:

  • 91% of attendees agreed that after attending this field trip they'd be more likely to engage with local government by contacting city officials, attending a council meeting, participating in public engagements, or voting in local elections.

  • 100% of field trip attendees said they learned more about local government and council meetings, with 81% ranking themselves as knowing a lot about local government after the event.

Barriers to engaging in local government for historically underrepresented and racialized folks can look like not knowing how to access city hall, not understanding how council meetings work, and even not knowing that the public is welcome to attend and speak at council meetings. Throughout our field trip our facilitator, Danielle Johnston, and the WTC team encouraged folks to ask questions and explore. There was safety in not knowing the answers, which enabled participants to relax and engage in their surroundings.

As one of our participants noted, "I enjoyed meeting new people that are passionate about making changes, and have great knowledge to share. I also enjoyed learning about the structure of local government, and how we can all be a part of it. It was eye-opening."

We started the day off at the Helena Gutteridge Plaza, right outside of City Hall, where Danielle briefed us on the history of the Plaza, as well as the history of the building. Did you know that the plaza is named after the first woman councillor in Vancouver? Or that Vancouver City Hall used to be located on Powell Street in what was known as Japantown until 1936 when it opened its doors on 12th Avenue? We explored the building’s Art Deco features and its extravagant elevators!

After our history lesson, we headed into the Cascadia Room, a conference room to the right of council chambers, for refreshments and snacks before the council meeting kicked off. Participants learned how council meetings work, had the opportunity to ask questions throughout the council meeting, and were encourgaed to watch the council meeting live from inside council chambers.

Participants learned how council meetings and agendas work, how motions are proposed, how council decisions are made, and tips on how to speak at council, and what is expected of you when you show up at council. And most importantly, we learned how to physically access council chambers!

  1. First, you check in with the security guard when you enter city hall and let them know you’re there for the council meeting.

  2. They will give you access to the elevator and it will take you to the third floor where there is another security checkpoint.

  3. You will be searched by security and may need to show ID before you are let you into the wing of the building where council chambers are located.

Visit our resources page where we expand on all of these learnings! You'll find free downloadable resources all about local government and how to get involved in your municipality.

Engaging in your local government can be less daunting when you do it in community, especially with a facilitator/guide there to support you. The people and community WTC has built played a large role in making the day what it was. The openness, encouragement, and lack of judgment created a safe space for curiosity to blossom. Seeing the amount of folks who showed up despite it being a weekday morning was so inspiring. This field trip illustrated that people have an interest in participating in local government when given the right tools and removing some of the barriers to accessibility. 

As some of our attendees noted, "

We encourage you to subscribe to our newsletter for information on our next field trip! If you are interested in getting more involved in local government visit our events page to register for a learning series workshop or become a member of WTC today. 

What city should we go to next? Email us at


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