At every level, it appears there are wicked problems, and golden opportunities, that could benefit from community and stakeholder engagement. Here’s where we see the needs and opportunities for meaningful consultation and collaboration in the year to come.
With the international agreement coming out of the Paris climate change conference, Canada has committed to a goal of reducing emissions by 30% by 2025, which would put us on track for reductions of 80% by 2050. This kind of change will not happen without industry, provinces, communities and individuals making significant shifts in how we build our economy, move people and goods, and how consumers… well, consume.
What an opportunity to engage across more than 195 signatory countries! It is going to take public will to make the political will a sustained reality.
The federal government has yet to unveil the exact format, mandate and approach for the national inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women, but they have made it clear that consultation and engagement would help inform both the work of the inquiry and how it will be launched and operated. In an immediate post-election interview the Minister, Carolyn Bennett, said: “I think that people know that I don’t have a magic wand, that this is going to take some time to get this right. But I think what they want to see immediately are the indicators of a new way of doing business.”
Part of the new way of doing business is in having an inquiry, but also in building a process collaboratively that seeks to meet the needs of victims, their families and communities, as well as government and law enforcement at all levels.
This is just one example of how bringing those with lived experience into both the process AND process design will make the findings and results so much more compelling and meaningful.
The BC government’s ambitious plans for LNG outline the possibility of up to $20 billion in investment, over $1 billion in new government revenues, and up to 9,000 construction jobs and 800 long-term jobs. For the government, the balance of risks and benefits clearly aligns with advancing their LNG strategy. BUT, and this is a big BUT… many communities are not on board. Most recently, the Tsawwassen First Nation rejected an application for a new LNG development on their land <link:http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/tsawwassen-first-nation-lng-vote-1.3369196> The reason for those who voted against was environmental impacts.
And so the question of economic growth and development, and whether it can be done with little or no environmental or community impact, is at the heart of the LNG debate. A province-wide dialogue on LNG as well as other engagement opportunities could likely support more productive dialogue and decision making in this province. We see lots of opportunities at the provincial level for a refined approach to engagement when it comes to LNG.
Vancouver is a dynamic and engaged city. Constant change means a never-ending list of projects, policies and initiatives on which to engage. The issue of affordable housing and whether or not there should be government intervention to stem the tide of foreign investment is ongoing. The previously-announced decision to close and rebuild St. Paul’s Hospital is significant and could bring a new $1.2 billion hospital to Main St. and Terminal on the fringe of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The need for improved transit into Vancouver, particularly with the planned removal of the viaducts, is also an area of hot debate.
The challenge in Vancouver, I believe, isn’t about getting people engaged, but rather, hearing from more than the usual suspects and those who are seen as being against everything. What’s more, there seems to be a scary trend towards us vs. them. “Real” Vancouverites vs. the wealthy off-shore investor; those who access Vancouver vs. those who live here; English speakers vs. non-English speakers.
We hope engagement in 2016 will help decrease the discussions that focus on us vs. them. Collaborative processes that support collaborative decision making will be more important than ever.