I spent Saturday morning with Mayor Nils Jensen and Councillors Tara Ney and Kevin Murdoch, attending and participating in the first Forum of Councils this year, sponsored by the CRD. We were joined by elected colleagues and municipal staff from all over the region, CRD staff and our two local MPs, Denise Savoie and Elizabeth May.
The workshop focused on our consideration of and input on the 2012-2014 draft CRD Strategic Plan and Priorities, including:
- Regional Cooperation
- Regional Transportation and Planning
- Regional Housing and Health
- Regional Infrastructure
- Regional Environmental Stewardship
I raised my concern about CRD environmental stewardship in the face of Bill C-38, the Federal Government’s omnibus budget legislation. This Bill substantially reduces or eliminates Canada’s environmental role because of significant cuts to so many programs and services, including research and environmental assessment.
It will be important, therefore, that the CRD closely monitors and continues to assess the local environmental impacts of this legislation to ensure that the CRD’s ability and goals related to environmental best practices and responsible stewardship are not compromised.
I also noted that missing from the Plan and Priorities were arts, culture and heritage and transportation planning for citizens with mobility and physical disability challenges. Other missing items identified by participants included local food security/agriculture and harm reduction. Generally, comments and discussion, including voting patterns on goals and priorities, seem to reflect majority support for this draft Plan, including what I believe are helpful suggestions for further consideration and improvement.
These bi-annual forums provide local governments and individually elected members with a great opportunity to give direct feedback to the CRD Board, given that the majority of us do not sit at the Board table.
This was a very worthwhile exercise and kudos to the CRD and its staff for putting on a productive working session.