About two years, ago our community began the task of revising our official community plan (OCP).
I participated in this process as part of our civic committee. My hope in this task was that we would develop a plan that would be based on sustainable principles and that with work we could begin to develop the foundation of information required in order for us to base our community’s development and economy upon.
I had hoped that we would see this beginning in our new OCP. We can not hope to achieve sustainability by remaining ignorant of the foundational knowledge that determines what must be done in order to achieve it. It is time to begin comprehensive and integrated environmental studies into all the types of environments in our area that Parksville has jurisdiction over.
Once we have determined what is required in order to sustain the environmental community structures of which we are a part we should be able to plan and develop our own community and economic structures in confidence. It would be better if such studies could be done in association with the rural and urban communities that comprise our Regional District of Nanaimo so that we could actually determine what is sustainable for our region. But if that is not a possibility we can go it alone and hope our actions transfer to our surrounding urban and rural populations.
Any reader of our draft OCP will see much attention is given to the words sustainable, sustainability and environment and that a model is proposed to describe the aspirations of our OCP document. The three legged stool model of what engenders a strong community was discussed during our various meetings, apparently approved and submitted to council. This model proposes that a sustainable community is built upon three foundations — the environment, societal process and economic development. It is nonsense! It implies by its structure that we can continue to develop economically and increase our population outside the bounds of the environment. Most high school children know that this is a fallacious proposition.
There is a model that much better indicates whether our actions lead to an enduring process. Only in the centre of this Venn diagram is an action or enterprise undertaken by us enduring across time. Our OCP should be based upon aiming our activities at trying to reach this particular centre as much as is possible. Anything less is to acknowledge defeat and know with certainty that our time as a species will be shortened by our intentional neglect of that which sustains us.
I don’t believe that the shortcomings in this draft OCP should be endured and seen as a productive aim for our next generation document. The OCP has to have a chance to succeed. It has to be based upon sound knowledge — not consensus. The current limitations of the draft OCP’s sustainability section prevent us from addressing what must be done, soon enough so that it may make a difference to our future.