Monday, April 27, 2009

Wrapping up the Symposium

Unfortunately, I had to leave the WAG shortly after 4pm on Saturday and didn't get to hear the closing remarks. Duty calls.

Luckily for me someone has posted something at local internet watering hole New Winnipeg which gave me some insight to how the day's events were closed up. What piqued my interest is that Terry McLeod gave the last words, and posed this great question:

Why do new shopping developments look like they were designed by people who hate cities?

Why indeed.

On the subject of New Winnipeg, I don't post there so I'll post here, but I really do not agree with some of the later comments on that thread. People stating the Mayor is just doing it for PR before an election, that he's only doing it because it somehow benefits himself, is complete and total bullshit. The first thing wrong with this ill-informed attack on the Mayor, is that the people NOT voting for him because he isn't "environmental" are faaaaar far far outweighed by people who DO vote for him. If he's running a symposium to get an additional 200 votes, he wouldn't be Mayor right now.

Secondly, why can't people accept that our Mayor REALLY IS TRYING to get stuff done here? At some point he was labelled an anti-environmentalist by some people and he can't shake it. I find I often stick up for Mayor Sam because many people don't recognize the little things that are accomplished....making a backasswards city "environmentally friendly" just ain't gonna happen overnight. People also miss out on the fact that these things start with baaaaaby steeeps. Those get overlooked far, far too often. The fact is the Mayor has spearheaded many environmental-type things in this city, do they really need to be listed on Sam's resume or something?

I don't see this as some sad attempt by Mayor Sam to "make peace" with the green people at all. As far as I can tell, he understands that we need to get going on a lot of these things and citizens by and large don't understand that it TAKES TIME. That you can't just sprinkle fairy dust and make a bike lane appear. Sam could easily draft up the new PW and shove it down our throats, but he's not. And he chose a very PROGRESSIVE way to go about doing it.

Moving on...

There were TONS of people there, I couldn't talk to them all. I contemplated putting a list of people from organizations/websites but holy crap that would just take way way too long.

I did talk to a lot of people, but I will mention George Toth, whom I had lunch with. George sits on the Mayor's Environmental Advisory Committee. After seeing several members of MEAC here and what they do/have done, it was a miracle I even made the shortlist of applicants and scored an interview. George and myself talked over lunch about a lot of things, mostly about wild, crazy things other cities have done to address the problems that face them. comparison to Winnipeg, the least we can do is take a sustainability symposium seriously.

A couple people I unfortunately did not get a chance to talk to but I wanted to, was James Beddome (Green Party MB), Paul Jordan (The Forks) and Anders Swanson ( Just too many people there and not enough time.

And lastly, several people were registered to speak but did not attend for one reason or another. In particular of these absentees, I really would have liked to hear Jino Distasio (U of W Urban Studies) speak.

* * *

My "Top 5" I posted on Friday, very few of those did actually get mentioned:

1) I was disapointed to hear nothing about apartments at The Forks, but I suppose that does go in with downtown/urban density.

3) Nobody said anything about Disraeli or Louise. Or bridges. Or linking Marconi to downtown. Or anything.

5) Although nobody brought up my exact points on Transit, transportation was the number one issue on Saturday.

* * *

And there you have it, that's all I'm going to write about the events on Saturday. I will forego the roundtable discussions. Although they were interesting and certainly generated a lot of ideas I hope our politicians/planners take seriously.

Any questions about the sustainability forum I have not covered, I would be happy to answer.


relic said...

I admire your optimism. Sam can talk all he wants, but his actions speak louder than words.

What evidence do you have that he's considered sustainability in any of his votes or initiatives over the past year?

Graham said...

He definitely has not considered sustainability all that often. Certainly not with either Waverly West or IKEA, there's no doubt about that. IKEA was particularly deflating, not a single thing was amended and not once was the question "could we possibly do this another way?" raised.

The best thing we can hope for is that this new initiative holds Mayor Sam and council, and future Mayors and councilors, to some kind of expectation. What that means, I'm not sure.