More than 100 community leaders from across the Fraser Valley converged at Airside Event Spaces (30462 Liberator Ave.) in Abbotsford recently for a ground-breaking day of “rolling up their sleeves” to develop a roadmap intended to transform the region into a “Vibrant Community,” specifically one that thrives through connection.  Submitted photo

More than 100 community leaders from across the Fraser Valley converged at Airside Event Spaces (30462 Liberator Ave.) in Abbotsford recently for a ground-breaking day of “rolling up their sleeves” to develop a roadmap intended to transform the region into a “Vibrant Community,” specifically one that thrives through connection. Submitted photo

Fraser Valley community leaders come together to build a stronger more vibrant future

Event convened by Grant Thornton LLP and is part of the firm’s Vibrant Communities initiative

As everyone who lives in the Fraser Valley knows, the communities that make up this region are a source of pride for those who live here, and the envy of those who live elsewhere. From the natural beauty of our cities to our people and their dedication to building strong neighbourhoods, we have a lot to be proud of.

It was exactly that strength and pride that was on display recently during a day-long initiative that brought together more than 100 community leaders to collaborate and brainstorm about the future of the Fraser Valley. The group brought energy and enthusiasm to meaningful discussions around how to build on existing strengths to make the region even stronger. What resulted was nothing short of inspiring, with new connections being made among some participants, reconnections among others, and an overall collective drive and determination to build a stronger future.

Discussing and debating important topics such as poverty, diversity, inclusion, infrastructure, entrepreneurship, health care, immigration, tourism, and the arts, the group focused on action. As the day went on, the group placed particular priority on strengthening accessible and comprehensive transportation options for the region; improving access to mental-health support while improving intervention and education efforts; and leveraging the connections made to create a Fraser Valley Ambassador Group focused on collaboration and streamlining efforts to drive growth and change. The ideas discussed will feed into a roadmap to a brighter, more vibrant future – a future where the Fraser Valley is Canada’s most exciting place to live, work and play.

The attendees included representatives from non-profits, business leaders, and politicians, who collectively brought both passion and expertise to the table. Together they reflected on what makes this community so special and debated what the Fraser Valley can and should look like in 2025. With a focus on sustainability and prosperity, attendees identified concrete actions needed to make their bold vision a reality.

The event was convened by Grant Thornton LLP and is part of the firm’s Vibrant Communities initiative – an idea rooted in a commitment to bring community leaders together from all walks of life to think about what is possible. While the goal of the event was to facilitate discussion about the future of the community, the strength of the event was the willingness and conviction on the part of community leaders to collaborate in a meaningful way on critical issues and opportunities facing them.

In addition to local leaders, more than 60 Grant Thornton employees and local office members joined me in participating, including Kevin Ladner (executive partner and CEO) and Norm Raynard (regional managing partner for Western Canada.) The breadth of participation from the firm is a testament to how strongly we believe we have an opportunity and imperative to help our communities succeed, and our belief that everybody can make a difference.

Grant Thornton’s role in the Vibrant Communities initiatives is that of convener – igniting critical conversation and convening passionate minds. That role is one we take seriously. Following the success of this recent event, we will now focus our efforts on the next phase – one focused on driving the ideas forward and making them a reality.

Among all the take-aways from the day, I walked away inspired and encouraged by the commitment from those who participated, as well as their openness to learning new skills and growing through the process. With passionate community leaders like that at the helm, the future of Fraser Valley looks even brighter.

– Contributed by John Harris, Managing Partner South Coastal BC, Grant Thornton LLP