With a deadline looming to submit a sustainability plan in order to be eligible for a federal gas tax transfer credit, the CBRM council voted to accept the plan that was drafted by consulting agency Stantec. The Integrated Communities Sustainability Plan (ICSP) had been put to consultation following the rejection of an arguably controversial plan originally put forth by CBRM staff member John Walley, and supported by Mayor John Morgan. The original plan was submitted prior to council consultation; council upon reading the plan rejected it on a vote of 13-2, and meanwhile discovered it had already been submitted (but was not deemed acceptable by the federal department). Stantec was then hired, and in six short weeks, a public consultation process attempted to draw the threads of vision from the people of the community, and the ICSP was drafted as a result, and accepted by council on March 25, with an almost unanimous vote. The only vote against the plan came from the Mayor.
To provide a glimpse of insight into what is at stake now, the current ICSP is available for download here.
The plan as posted is a lengthy document highlighting some of the challenges and opportunities faced by the region. The goals listed in the plan are reflections of the consultation process, but due to the limited timeline within which it was prepared, the concrete details are still yet to be designed. Since the plan was submitted as a stand-alone plan, it also needs to be implemented into the planning and bylaws of the CBRM, once specific tasks are mined from the plan’s somewhat vague recommendations. This is where you come in. It is time to maintain the motivation sprung from the establishment of a sustainable strategy for the future of CBRM, to ensure that the plan was not just submitted as an opportunity to cash in on the Federal Gas Tax Revenues, but plans to use those revenues to build and maintain a community in a manner that won’t impede or hinder future generations. That, after all, is what sustainability really is. The original plan, which had been rejected, is still on the CBRM website on the Mayor’s page and can be downloaded here. Although much of the document reflects similar sentiments to the current plan, there seems to be an underlying misunderstanding as to what the definition of sustainable really is. It depicted some of the realistic challenges we as a municipality face, and some good points are raised, but there are some touchy comments, which thus became points of contention.
I grew up here before the CBRM was one conglomerate, watching, with a sense of futility, while decisions were made that were questionable if not idiotic. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to start packing up the era of planning without foresight; I’m ready to say goodbye to the days of business-as-usual with no regard for the effects on the life of a community, or the health of its people, or the impact on the ecosystem. I’m ready to dilute the misconceptions between communities, and start to examine our assets, strengths, and appreciate what makes us special. How about you? Do you have a positive vision for the CBRM? Have wild ideas? The time is now to step closer to what regional council is doing, to make sure planning is implemented with the best interests of the community at heart. Political scientist Dr. Tom Urbaniak (CBU) states, “the consultants’ analysis is slender, the timelines are few, and most of the recommendations are vague and not prioritized. But for the first time in years the CBRM council may have decided to seize a moment and start setting a comprehensive agenda for the region, start harnessing the community’s creativity. That’s why what comes next is so important.”
The immediate next step in the process is to determine, by council vote, if the current ICSP committee will remain the same. Councilor Ray Paruch, chair of the committee, stated “I’ve been sitting on council since 1995, and I’ve never seen it this united.” He said if the committee remains the same, they plan to follow the recommendations laid out by the ICSP, and consult key players who work or invest their time in each of the four “pillars of development” – Social, Cultural, Economic, and Environmental. So, knowing this, if you consider yourself a key player, get on their radar.
According to the CBRM website, council meetings are open to the public and occur “once a month on the third Tuesday” at 6pm in the Council Chambers (2nd Floor of the Civic Centre, 320 Esplanade, Sydney). My calculations would place this forthcoming meeting to be April 20. Hope to see you there. I think a critical mass of folks present at such meetings would at least serve to remind all involved that the citizens are paying attention to what they are doing.