innovation, innovation week, city building

Mayor Cote at Transportation Forum 2018

New Westminster is old, and steeped in history and tradition, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t continually striving to improve and change what we do. That’s why I’m pleased that the dates for the third annual Innovation Week have been set for March 2-8 2019. I hope you’ll consider attending one of the events undergoing planning right now.

When we first introduced Innovation Week to New Westminster in 2017, I admit I immediately thought of technology, programming, and computers. But over the past few years of hosting Innovation Week I have begun to really understand what “innovation” means and how we can apply it to our work here at the City.

It doesn’t refer to technology exclusively – though certainly consideration for new tools and new technologies can help with innovation. Rather, “innovation” refers to a new approach, a different way of thinking, a creative way to implement something, or a better way to solve a problem. It is a change in our approach, not the mandatory use of something techie.

This idea of “innovation” as an approach isn’t particular new, either. Out of curiosity, I decided to graph the word’s historical usage. Since the 50s, the use of “innovation” has gone up incredibly.

While this doesn’t really tell us much about context in all those books, it does tell us that people are using these words, and I’d like to think that’s because the willingness to use innovation is a sign of a modern society and that the word has become a part of our regular vocabulary.

A city as old as New Westminster has a lot of legacy to work through in terms of how things have been done in the past. As our society changes, it is critical we adapt our planning and ways to doing things to fit the needs of the present.

I’m proud of the work we are doing. Projects and strategic initiatives such as the IDEA Centre, the District Energy Project, our Urban Solar Garden, the open data database, New Media Gallery and its Learning Lab, BridgeNet and the entire Intelligent City program, and our Economic Development Strategy are just a few I can name. Staff are continually bringing Council more innovations to consider.

In the coming months as events and speakers are announced, I hope you’ll consider signing up for updates to the Innovation Week mailing list so that you can find an event perfect for you. Whether you are a resident or business owner in the region, represent non-profit or government, there really will be something for everyone at Innovation Week 2019.

All we need is that willingness to use innovation to make our community a better place.