I am all for increased trade and labour mobility, especially within the same country. Makes a lot of sense. But, I think TILMA could be much more than that. And the fact the province actually made municipalities subject to TILMA during a 2 year "transition period", without any meaningful education or consultation is simply bad form, in my humble opinion. We have been in fact subject to TILMA for the past 6 months, without really knowing what it all means.
Over the past year, I have been to many meeting with my friend Peter Oswell to work on a new community plan for the North Shore Kamloops. I like Peter a lot - and we tend to agree on almost nothing. Yes, it is pretty rare to find Peter and I agreeing on a topic or an issue.
Ultimately, this is a good thing. And it is pretty indicative of how the North Shore plan community advisory committee works. We currently have a lot of people involved with North Shore Business Improvement Association on the committee. And although I am and have been a business person for a long time, I think its important to state opinions from other North Shore interests. I try to do that when I can. Others do to. We have had some pretty animated discussions. What ultimately generally comes out of our discussions around the table is a pretty balanced view of where the North Shore is now, and where it could go.
Peter and I went for a drink after a committee meeting we had last Thursday evening. We continued a respectful, great conversation. Sometimes I find it hard to bite my tongue and just listen to what he has to say. But, I find listening to him almost always a rewarding thing.
I am beginning to think, through the many hours of meetings I have been to and the many hours of reading I have done, that the main issue on the North Shore is really one of perception. Statistics show the North Shore is really no more crime ridden than any other area of Kamloops, it is beautifully flat and enjoys some of the best weather. There are great deals to be had in real estate.
What we might want to focus on is changing people's perceptions. No street beautfication, no great condo or townhouse project will be able to do that alone. What we perhaps should do is showcase this part of town to the people we want to recognize its great value.
I am putting this post into a lot of different categories because Smart Growth can underpin so much in a community. It is not just the intersection of the economy and the environment. It also speaks to social issues, preventing crime, the arts, and so much more.
Today, I attended Smart Growth BC's annual conference. This was a gathering of hundreds. And the topic at hand was how to create happier, healthier, more environmentally friendly, and more profitable communities. It may be a little abstract at first, but Smart Growth makes more and more sense to me every time I hear about it. Of course, its not a perfect philosopy, but it is the best I have seen so far. It is a very holistic approach.
Here are some of the highlights from today:
John Knott Jr leads one of the most ambitious city revitalization projects in the US - the Noisette development in North Charleston, South Carolina. He spoke about building and development as an art form and a service to the human community - not just a way to make money. He talked about good development taking into consideration the history and context of a place - sometimes going back thousands of years. This made me think about how we can incorporate more first nation touchstones in Kamloops development. It made me think of ranches, and river travel. John Knott talked about how green development not necessarily being more expensive, but a simple product of more thorough planning in the beginning. He also talked of an almost moral imperative for developers to help solve social problems in society. He said developers are actually the best placed people to lead the effort. A quote:
"We come together now around what we fear or what we hate - we no longer come together around what we love"
Chris Corps talked about the value propostion in building green. In Kamloops, we have had some conflicting information cost / benefits. But, Chris Corps points to many studies that indicate the benefits - a green building, for example, is a healthier building and consequently inhabitants are healthier, workers are more productive, patients get better faster. Chris was asked whether this may be because any new building, green or not, produces an initial excitement for people inside. He said it may be too early to draw anything conclusive but preliminary data shows green features do have a positive effect on wellbeing. Chris pointed to the Green Value report - very interesting reading.
Whistler is heating their new athletes village using waste water. SFU hosts a new community on Burnaby Mountain - Univercity - a walkable community with a variety of housing options, where the residents are offered a $100 discount on a monthly transit pass. Univercity favours local Burnaby businesses in its retail spaces.
Jonathan Westeinde, with Windmill Developments, spoke a bit about the potential of green development. He maintains that using current technologies and practices, we can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from buildings well below Kyoto Protocol targets within 15 years. He pegged political will as a crucial element - helping to fast track green developments, and providing regulations that can make them successful.
I will be getting all the proceedings from the conference on a CD soon.
I agonized over my vote on the purchase of the Old Courthouse.
Having participated in hours of meetings, having had tours of this wonderful building, having been approached by people asking about what was happening - I knew this was something many people in Kamloops wanted us to look at carefully.
In the end, I was worried about the potential for construction and cost overruns that might present themselves in the renovation of the building. We are in a booming construction market and we all know prices are escalating rapidly. And with heritage buildings, we have had cost overrun surprises in the recent past - such as with the Old Cigar Factory building the city now owns across from city hall.
So, today, I found myself being given a thorn by armchair Mayor Mel Rothenburger for not supporting the purchase when we voted.
But, the way I voted is old news. In case people are interested, and people have already asked me, I offered the above comments.
City Council, as a group, decided to purchase the old Courthouse. There are exciting plans to make it into a thriving centre of the arts in Kamloops. We have had the engineers and experts through the building more than once assessing the health of the structure and what renovations are needed.
I am now a supporter of Council's decision.
There is going to be a healthy and spirited debate about how the old Courthouse will now be run. At this point, I think its going to be very important, quite quickly, to put together a citizen led society to manage the building, much like what exists at St Andrews in the Square. That way, the building is not just a Big C City Building, but a true small c city building. I have also advocated doing a fundraising campaign in the community - to help spread the costs of the buildng, but also to give a broader feeling of ownership of what I am confident will be a great community resource.
Took the opportunity last night to sit on a City of Kamloops heritage commission meeting last night. The commission advises council on heritage issues and advocates for protection of heritage buildings of significance.
Things that caught my interest included:
I am trying to get to city committees that I don't normally attend. It was a huge pleasure to attend the heritage commission meeting.