At the Ideas Powered by Passion event I attended a couple of weeks ago I learned of a Symposium to be held the following day focusing on the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan. This news really peaked my interest.
At that point all I knew of this issue was that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality was eligible for a federal gas tax transfer credit to the tune of $7 million annually for four years, on the condition that it submitted a Sustainability Plan. Now the “issue” arose when a plan prepared by CBRM was not deemed acceptable and thus rejected by council. So, a consultant was brought in to help with the process. This consultant firm, Stantec, needed to solicit public input, and held the symposium as part of that process.
As someone who envisions a future for the CBRM that builds on our strengths and learns from our fossil-fuel-dependant, industry-stained past, I was glad to hear a plan with Sustainability in the vocabulary was in the forecast.
I found the Symposium interesting and informative. The speakers were very knowledgeable and clear about the process. “The goal is not to create an intravenous drip [between Stantec and the CBRM], we help you develop the plan, and then you proceed with it.”
The afternoon presentation was based on the four pillars of sustainability: Environmental, Social, Cultural, and Economic. Topics were raised such as Climate Change, and what to consider when planning for future development (noting storm surges and coastal erosion as important factors). A map of Nova Scotia was displayed depicting potential for developing wind energy—Cape Breton Island had the most potential in the entire province. Ideas were raised during the discussion, such as considering possibilities for manufacturing alternative energy products. Population trends were portrayed, so as to have a clear view of who lives here, at what rate that seems to be shrinking, and why. Economic trends were discussed.
That same evening a Visioning Session was held, wherein ideas were shared as to what makes the CBRM special, what it could become, what challenges are present, and what is available for us to take advantage of.
The most important point I took from the event was a recognition that we, as a community, possess some special gifts—we live in a geographically beautiful place, we have a community saturated with creative people, we have much to sustain ourselves with. We live in an era where a knowledge-based economy is more prevalent, and folks are choosing where to live based on the lifestyle they can make there. We have an opportunity to shape this community, to pronounce its qualities, repair its calamities, and cultivate a place that supports the culture that lives here, and the natural beauty we are so lucky to be surrounded by.
If you have not yet completed the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan web survey, or have not yet provided your comments or ideas, go to this blog: cbrmicsp.wordpress.com. If you’ve ever thought we need more public green spaces, or we should emphasize a particular aspect of our communities’ character, then act promptly and provide some input.
The plan for a Sustainable CBRM is in the works, and we all have a responsibility not only to help formulate it, but to manifest it into action. The Integrated Community Sustainability Plan is due to be completed by March 2, 2010, so visit the site now for more information and complete the survey to share your vision for the future. And, if you are so inclined, take a few minutes to to visit www.uinr.ca/section/netukulimk to listen to another inspiring speaker, and perspective on sustainability.