Our Humboldt– Looking toward the future through a cultural lens

By: Danica Lorer June, 2014

Humboldt is stepping into the future with a brand new culture-led growth plan. Concentrating on seven core values, the city is working to sustain a hub of cultural and economic life, to retain citizens, and attract people and investments from around the world. The community has worked together to identify that Humboldt is active, welcoming, prosperous, creative, green, connected and sustainable.

The preparation of the plan included work with the Canadian Urban Institute and an extensive community consultation process. Asking questions and listening to the answers created a sense of ownership of the plan, and people appreciated having a voice in the process.

Jennifer Brooks, director of communication and community development, City of Humboldt, says “The process was equally as important, if not more so, than the plan, at the end of the day because it provided a platform, not just to engage official and unofficial community leaders, but to engage the wider community from all different community sectors. I think that is what made the plan as comprehensive as it is, and I think it will serve us well in the long run.”

Through the process, it became clear that there was a real hunger for encouraging a culturally dynamic community. By creating a community that embraces culture, it really helps with community sustainability in the long term by making it an attractive place to live. “We couldn’t have gotten the amount, or quality of information, if we hadn’t reached out to the community to ask them what they wanted. The city council can’t do it alone. It was really quite something to see folks from different backgrounds, ages and ethnicities sitting at the table and working together to discuss what they loved about the community, what they wanted to retain, and what they wanted to make better,” says Brooks.

Brooks along with Jennifer Hoesgen, director, Humboldt and District Museum With their innovative approach using a culture-led and value-based planning process, Humboldt is being looked at as an example, and the planners have already been invited to share their ideas with other municipalities in Saskatchewan. In June 2014, the Canadian Urban Institute will be presenting the plan to the Creative Cities Network of Canada in Hamilton.

In January 2014, Humboldt opened its first public gallery. They were able to use the ideas in the plan as they opened. “We want to ensure that the new public space is a place that encompasses those values, is a welcoming place where creativity and culture is really celebrated, and that we look at how we can ensure that new diverse cultural groups are welcome,” explains Hoesgen. The City of Humboldt was able to develop their plan with funding help from a SaskCulture Municipal Cultural Engagement and Planning Grant.

The goal of the plan is to improve the quality of life in the community as it grows. “The name of the plan, speaks to the inclusiveness of it. ‘Our Humboldt’ was a very deliberate choice of names. ‘Our Humboldt’ is about our community, and it’s about ensuring people have ways to make the community their own and make it meaningful to them,” says Brooks.