Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The future of the region: discussion forum

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I spent the morning at the Executive Plaza Hotel in Richmond at the Future of the Region Discussion Forum. The format was quite different to the other Sustainable Region Initiative meetings. What is astonishing is that the process has now taken 6 years – and counting.

After a short – and insipring – introduction by David Marshall the ED of the Fraser Basin Council we were divided up into very small groups – mine was 5 people. And with no shifting around between groups or streams we talked for the next three hours. My group included John Yap, who is my MLA, and Harold Steves. I must say that was very impressed by John, who showed himself to be well informed and thoughtful. And while he stayed fairly close to the party line when pushed (he was not going to condemn the Gateway outright) left to speak for himself he did.

The atmosphere is my little group was collegial and with a very high level of consensus. There was no grandstanding and no big arguments broke out. Even more surprisingly the other small group in the room that had the airport and board of trade reps, came to very similar to conclusions to ours.

Everyone wants a better transportation system. Everyone wants more local say and less rule by fiat from Victoria. We are all concerned about adapting to the impacts of climate change and how we absorb growth. In this region we do not have the option of no growth because the people are going to be coming here and we cannot stop them. So we did not get diverted by the “no growth” argument – even though both Harold and I emphasized that if we were serious about sustainability constant attention to the GDP was not going to be an indicator that would be helpful.

All the comments from the discussion groups will be posted on the Metro web page in about a week so there is no point me trying to summarize futher. There will be a Sustainability Summit in October, where all this and the results of similar meetings elsewhere in the region will be  turned into a Vision and Action Items.

Just to return to what David Marshall said, which I think set the tone for the meeting. The Fraser Basin Council was based on a collabarative framework between four orders of government – federal, provincial, municipal and abiriginal. It had a sustainability theme from the outset in its 1996 Charter for Sustainability and it has been a remarkably succesful project. And it is not the only one that has adopted this framework – so did the Nechako River and the Britannia Mine projects. So although the problems facing our region are daunting and the curent governance not promising, it is possible to make this thing work. Because clearly what we have now, isn’t.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 26, 2008 at 1:00 pm

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