Ever since attending the 2009 ICLEI World Congress in Edmonton in June, I’ve been continually amazed at some of the positive change, innovative thinking, and idea sharing that is happening between municipalities across the globe.
While Canada’s provincial and federal leaders of all political stripes are failing to address some of the biggest growth issues of a generation – both on the environment and energy fronts – many of our municipal leaders are pioneering new ideas for implementing sustainability and smart growth strategies. Dealing with urban growth is difficult in cities where past politicians have embraced urban sprawl and bad urban renewal ideas. In Edmonton, City Council recently made a smart decision by voting for the phased closure of the City Centre Airport, which will create opportunities for future increased densification in the City core (a difficult and well-thought out decision for some Councillors).
Important civic issues have awakened the citizenship in a growing number of Albertans who are taking action and forming groups like ChangeCamp Edmonton and Civic Camp Calgary to participate in shaping the future of their communities and politics in a non-partisan way.
Using the Internet, websites like CityWiki and Cities Exchange (ht Rurban Fringe) are providing forums for great information sharing about urban growth strategies. There have also been some exciting positive debates about open data and open source government in Calgary and Vancouver that will create more transparency and broaden the ways that citizens can interact with their municipal governments. It’s really encouraging to watch our cities move forward in a positive direction on many issues. When I look at how much has been accomplished thus far, I become more hopeful for what can be accomplished in the future!