FLASHBACK TO 2006: West Vancouver Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones teamed with Green Infrastructure Partnership to champion ‘Design with Nature’ approaches, overcome barriers and create a legacy in British Columbia
Green infrastructure presentation at GVRD Sustainability Community Breakfast attracted large crowd
Building on the momentum generated by an October 2006 presentation to the Sustainable Region Initiative Task Force, the Green Infrastructure Partnership brought its ‘design with nature’ message to an audience of 80-plus at a Sustainability Community Breakfast hosted by the Greater Vancouver Regional District on December 13, 2006.
West Vancouver Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones played a key role in anchoring the presentation team and articulating the importance of partnerships.
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Build a Vision, Create a Legacy
“These GVRD breakfasts have served as the commons for an urban discussion about sustainability in general,” stated Mayor Goldsmith-Jones. “Everyone’s quoting James Hoggan’s research on Communicating Sustainability. Here’s my favourite part:
“We believe that sustainability experts and the public are out of synch on this subject.”
“I am not an expert, although I am a believer. I have to say that I found it tricky to bridge that gap between the professionals I am up here with this morning, and myself, let alone the general public.
“According to Hogan, the public has already worked through the issue of what sustainability means to a considerable degree. The gap that exists, or the disconnect between what people believe, and what they do, has to do with barriers defined by Hogan as mindset, information and trust.”
“Even if we change our individual behaviours, what’s the difference?
“Our group will talk about small things, like this change to a road in West Van that manages rainwater runoff – which if we all did, adds up to a significant cumulative effect, to big things – like East Clayton in Surrey, which at the time faced major hurdles and now sets the standard for us all.”
“A cheap price does not reflect the social or environmental cost of something. I have struggled with the terms my colleagues throw around like green infrastructure partnership – I think that means urban design that works with nature, or the water bucket model – I just don’t get that one.
“Hydrological footprint is another one – I think that might be the same metaphor as water bucket.
“The information barrier we are trying to bring down today is that how water flows is either a problem for communities, or an asset. And, we have great examples so that you can see how that is working in real life, and how infrastructure design that is properly integrated contributes to less work, less cost, less damage to the environment and even greater aesthetic value.
“These are the most significant. There are three of them.
- Business and government send mixed messages. Today represents a demonstration of how all three levels of government are lining up to deliver sustainable solutions, and also how the private sector is responding.
- Lack of accountability – our main message, I think, is that we hold ourselves accountable to you. We wished to present as a group so that you would see that the province, local government, and practitioners are working together, helping one another, and working hard to reach out to you.
We hope you will return to your business or community with the knowledge that you can get support from us.
- Because citizens don’t trust leaders, they end up letting themselves off the hook too. I was approached by this consortium of engineers, primarily, who have been working for years to bring practical tools to our communities.
For them, the opportunity to present to the Sustainable Region Initiative Committee of the GVRD Board was a huge opportunity.
To speak to you this morning is important, and empowering. I have helped them reach an audience they needed to reach, and so did Heather Schoemaker from the GVRD, and the Chair of the GVRD, Lois Jackson. There’s three leaders who did not turn the other way.
“You can trust these people. Their only goal is to turn you on to the practical reality that designing with nature – particularly water – is underway, is working, and holds out hope for communities and cities to function better, to our lasting benefit,” concluded Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones.