Getting a pulse on our city and building bridges

Navigating the current and charting the future with Community Hubs

5 December 2023

Community Hubs are spaces that provide residents with a central access point for a range of health and social services. This includes social, cultural, recreational, and green spaces that promote a strong and vibrant community. The premise for Hubs is that we come together as a community, and have the right supports, services and opportunities, so we can thrive and contribute socially, economically, physically and mentally. 

In a recent gathering with Community Hubs Site Leads and City of Calgary Community Social Workers, we sought to understand the challenges faced by these vital community spaces and explored the emerging themes that can help shape Hubs of the future. The discussion revealed different challenges but woven within are threads of hope and a commitment to transformative change.  

In the current state, Community Hubs are a tapestry of hope and challenges. There are many pressing needs for residents and at times people are experiencing fatigue and burnout. However, amid the challenges, there is also healthy collaboration with community, conversations about holistic approaches to funding, and a need to emphasize the experience of connection over mere activities. 

At times there may be feelings that changes are stagnant, like a broken record playing the same tune. Our city is addressing safety concerns and grappling with the cost of living and these recurring themes don’t have clear or immediate answers. Yet, depth to the narrative of community building is added through partnerships, dedicated residents, and innovative programs like Community Connectors, and the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and practices. Engaging residents is what lights the paths of community care and connection. 

Hubs are focal points in community where a variety of perspectives collide, where communities grow together. These spaces are a necessary part of the fabric of our city. Having established physical spaces and with new ones on the horizon, there are many opportunities to gather, to get to know your neighbour, to build relationships that help our communities resist isolation and inequality.  

It’s about creating the right conditions. As we played out what the Hubs of the future could look like, a visionary blueprint emerged. We tested out experiences and thoughts in a liminal space between the present and the future. Community Hubs are vibrant spaces, and as we peered into the future, an even more vibrant vision of Hubs emerged. The ideas were flowing as people considered that future Hubs will be wellness spaces, offering community health services and acting as a space that organically brings people together. Basic needs will be met through social enterprises, resident-led initiatives, and asset-based community development. Green spaces, community-informed design, and a policy framework that strengthens communities will be integral. Importantly, a well-supported and diverse staff, and an inclusive environment will define the landscape. 

These Hubs of the future are solutions focused, they are places that continue to solve the issue of isolation, where abundant mindsets live, where current barriers are overcome, where meaningful connections are at the core. Can you see yourself in that future?  

Our journey through the current challenges and future possibilities of Community Hubs cultivates fertile ground for innovation. By acknowledging and addressing the challenges of today, we strengthen the Hubs of the present day and pave the way for Hubs to flourish tomorrow and into the future — Hubs that are not just community-centric but community-driven, fostering connections, inclusivity, and a shared sense of ownership and belonging. The pulse of the city beats stronger when heard through the voices of lived experience and as we navigate these dynamic landscapes, there is a commitment to build deep and abiding relationships within our communities. 

How do we create a city with Enough for All?

At a recent event, we tasked our Champions and stakeholders to collectively think through what social and environmental factors need to be in place to have thriving communities. Harnessing imagination, creativity, and play we envisioned futures free from poverty.