Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable Region Initiative

The future of the region: discussion forum

leave a comment »

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

Regional Growth – connecting transit and density

with one comment

and ensuring room for industry – key issues in regional development
This dialogue series will explore the linkages between transportation and density, as well as the need for mechanisms, such as a designation for industrial lands in Metro Vancouver.

I won’t be going to the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue on May 1 at 11:30am even though it is usually a nice free lunch. There’s a limit to how much of this stuff I can take.

The panel is:

Ann McAfee
retired Director of Planning, City of Vancouver and Principal, City Choices Consulting

Sheri Plewes
Vice President, Planning and Capital Management, TransLink

Bill Tucker
Director, National Association of Industrial & Office Properties

Bob Wilds
Managing Director, Greater Vancouver Gateway Council

This does not seem to me to represent even a pretence at “balance”. It is the elite telling us what is good for us. The audience, being mostly business people, will lap it up. There may be a few greenies, and even fewer genuinely interested ordinary citizens. But the “discussion ” is you ask a brief question and all four on the panel will be allowed to pontificate at length, usually just restating what we have already heard.

Metro has teamed up with the Board of Trade to run these things, so it is not as if they are actually trying very hard to hear anything but business interests.

They do not even give poor old Rafe Mair a credit any more. And he is about the only person on the platform who will cast doubt upon the Gateway, or any of the rest of the “even more business as usual” message.

Lois Jackson writes

While Metro Vancouver has earned its reputation as one of the most livable places in the world, now, as we shift our focus to the longer term sustainability of our region, some of the challenges we face and opportunities available to us are crying out for attention.

New and innovative approaches to regional issues and attention to the growing impacts and opportunities of globalization are fundamental if we are to sustain those things that make our region special. Therefore, your opinions and participation at these sessions are vitally welcome and important.

And if you think she really means that you can register by sending an email to RegionalDialogueWoskCentre (at) – just make sure to take out the spaces and replace the at with the right sign

Written by Stephen Rees

April 21, 2008 at 1:10 pm