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Municipal Sustainability Initiatives

This week my wife Robyn and I wrote a letter to Castlegar City Council. I’m not into writing letter just for the sake of it, if I’m going to write a letter it is going to be in regards to something I care deeply about. The sustainability of Castlegar is something we care about and are concerned that movement in the direction of sustainability is not a priority for the City. 

WindmillI’ll post the letter here in the coming week, but I’ll raise a source of concern. In speaking of the City’s Integrated Community Sustainability Planning project, on the City’s website, the mayor is quoted…

“This new project is an excellent example of all three
levels of government working to build community sustainability,” said
Mayor Lawrence Chernoff. “With a land use and infrastructure strategy
in place, Castlegar will be well-prepared for future growth and
development.”

Source: The City of Castlegar – Public Notice

The assumption from the mayor is that future growth and development are critical to sustainabiilty. Sustainability is built around land management, but a community plan has to be more comprehensive than just land management.[ad#468]

Municipal (and any sustainable) initiatives must aim for three imperative goals:

  1. Initiatives must reduce the use of what is scarce, imported, or gives money to people hostile to us.
  2. Initiatives must only increase the use of what we have in abundance (which isn’t everything touted as such).
  3. Initiatives must reduce the burden of emissions on land, water and air.

Quoted initiatives are from the article – Advice to Pres. Obama (#5): One Engineer’s Advice for Energy Policy – The Oil Drum

These three simple points should be used as a filter for any proposal for innovation or change brought to a municipality. They represent a low risk level of sustainability that we can only hope our leaders will adopt for the sake of the future.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada. If I post something here that you find helpful as you navigate the world of engineering, planning and building communities, that’s wonderful. But when push comes to shove: This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

6 thoughts on “Municipal Sustainability Initiatives

  1. I think yiur first point would have been better w/o "gives money to people hostile to us." This can open to debate in issues removed from sustainability. And how to/who will define gives people hostile to us?

  2. These are not my points, but I've used them, so I'll defend them… I do believe that this is a valid point for sustainability, does it really blur the issues that much to say that we shouldn't be reliant on oil products from hostile nations? I'd say this is exactly what America needs to hear – stop fighting wars you can't win and focus on home grown sustainability that doesn't require inordinate amounts of oil from these nations.

  3. Do we want the US needing/taking more oil from us?
    I agree stop fighting wars you can't win. But do we want to be considered an easy oil source – or a hostile nation?

  4. I was more considering the middle east as the potentially hostile nations. As for easy oil source, the Tar Sands are proving far from easy or lucrative as a viable source of energy. The EROEI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested) is about as low as it gets. Canada, and particularly Alberta would do well to start thinking of the oil sands as a liability rather than the magic saviour. (And really – the oil sands are all that we have left that's worth talking about).

    There aren't going to be too many winners in this long emergency, but there will be a lot of political anger and dispute while oil is the focus of all our attentions.

  5. Its not a question of which nations you or I consider hostile. The US will make their own definitions and that's what I worry about. Putting the word hostile on the table brings out all sorts of emotions. Of course, these emotions will be there whether we name them or not.

  6. The relationship between Canada and the US is full of contradictions and to preserve some level of sanity and peace between these nations will require a good deal of peace-making from politicians on both sides. You are right to see this as an issue, is our government considering the necessity for a peaceful relationship? I think that is what all the concessions we continue to make to the states is about. Will it be enough?

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