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Ce qui peut se faire, ce qui a été fait, ce qui doit se faire...

Visant à combattre les problèmes concentrés dans nos villes, Villes-durables a commencé en 1975 pour ensuite s'étendre au continent et ensuite devenir un mouvement global.

Villes-saines poursuit essentiellement les mêmes objectifs de création de collectivités écologiques, vertes et durables, mais en se préoccupant des questions de santé. Il existe deux éléments à l'intérieur du concept de durabilité : 
1) la satisfaction des besoins de tous les résidents, et 
2) le maintien d'une vie qui respecte l'environnement.

Les éléments qui font partie d'une collectivité durable comprennent : la planification urbaine, la gestion, un mélange de culture collective et de liens sociaux, le développement économique durable, et une collectivité verte qui vie à l'intérieur des limites imposées par l'environnement.

Les gens du monde entier doivent réaliser qu'ils doivent vivre en respectant à la fois leurs moyens et ceux de l'environnement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Good resources:

Harmony Foundation's booklet : "Discovering
your community -
à la découverte de
votre collectivité
- un processus coopératif de planification pour la pérennité - a cooperative process for planning sustainability".

Green
Communities
Flow Chart
from the US EPA
     

 

      

What can be done, what has been done, what must be done...


Beth McLaughlin

People Against Nuclear Energy
March 2002

 

f Earth is to survive and not go the way of the rest of the planets, shrouded in noxious gases or covered in ice, we must begin to educate people about our unsustainable actions of the last fifty years. 

(photo:NBImages)

Elders say that the use of chemicals and pesticides became prevalent in farming at the end of World War II; this coincides with the increasingly frequent practice of clear-cutting forests. In 1951, New Brunswick began spraying the forests for the spruce budworm, which began the devastation of the insect and therefore, fish populations. Growth in the human population has translated into increases in the number of vehicles, electricity production, industry, and manufacturing, which all use fossil fuels. The North American worldview has virtually forgotten conservation. What can be done to turn the tide? People from around the world must acknowledge that we have to live within our means and within the means of our environment.

Aimed at countering the problems concentrated in our cities, sustainable cities began in 1975, with experiments by the World Health Organization in a few European cities. This initiative mushroomed to a continental, then global movement. Healthy Cities have essentially the same goals as eco, green or sustainable communities, using health as their focal element. In Atlantic Canada, we have the Nova Scotia Association of Sustainable Communities and the Movement acadien de villages en santé, head-quartered in Caraquet.

A sustainable community, rather than having a fixed definition, depends upon the residents' vision and needs. However, two elements are always contained within the concept of sustainability: 1) the meeting of the needs of all its residents and 2) living within the limits of the environment around us.
Here is the definition that a group of Minnesota citizens came up with back in 1995:

"A sustainable community is a community which uses its resources to meet current needs while ensuring that adequate resources are available for future generations. A sustainable community seeks a better quality of life for all its residents while maintaining nature's ability to function over time by minimizing waste, preventing pollution, promoting efficiency and developing local resources to revitalize the economy. Decision-making in a sustainable community stems from a rich civic life and shared information among community members. A sustainable community resembles a living system in which human, natural and economic elements are interdependent and draw strength from each other."
(from Roseland's Toward Sustainable Communities, 1998).

Good planning is the first pillar of a sustainable community. For a sustainable community, the town planning aims are to heighten energy efficiency, consume fewer resources, produce less pollution and avoid contamination of the natural environment. This allows for maximum penetration of the sun, the use of natural winds and breezes to cool the air, and allows for the recovery of as much rainwater as possible. The protection of the drinking water supply, both in quantity and quality, is an essential consideration of the town plan. Beauty, in layout and in architecture, is also an integral part of the sustainable community. Community centers, parks and shared areas for recreation, gardening and socializing are planned carefully. Modes of transportation for pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchairs, simultaneously contributing to air quality, are considered in the plan. Several compact, whole communities make up the larger city, protecting the surrounding countryside.

Governance is the second pillar of a sustainable community. A sustainable community needs public participation. An informed citizenry knows and meets the community's needs and can implement this way of living. Democracy and decision-making practices are renewed, creating a large role for public consultation and public input, on a constant basis. To properly begin a sustainable community initiative is to undertake a thorough public consultation in which the community creates a vision of their future community, making efforts to include those least likely to be consulted: the youth, the elderly, the people with special needs, the immigrants, and the disadvantaged.

A third aspect in a sustainable community is the complex mix of community culture and social ties. Community culture is the recognition of the elements of our culture(s), through the discovery and the renewal of the original and founding culture(s) of the community. This includes taking a look at the history, stories, traditions and arts of the founding peoples, including our First Nations peoples. It includes having knowledge of the natural history of the area and its natural attractions. This way, we develop pride in our ancestry. We come to value our roots and our uniqueness. Our culture is the basis of our authenticity, our naturalness and the true richness of life. This is what makes our community attractive to others.

Economic development, sustainable-style!

"A community enriches itself by its own existence," says Jane Jacobs, economist and author of "Cities and the Wealth of Nations", "The Economy of Cities" and her most recent jewel, "The Nature of Economies". A sustainable community uses the vision and values of its members to pursue its goal, to endure, to last, says Marcia Nozick, Canadian urban planner and author. 

Jacobs outlines economic principles for self-sufficiency as follows:

1) do more with less, incorporating conservation, prevention of pollution and recycling,

2) encourage the circulation of money made in the community as many times as possible, with a goal of 6-8 times, because once money leaves the community, it does no good for your own community,

3) substitute locally-made goods for imported goods ; here in Canada, FOOD is a potential growth area,

4) make something new with the resources of the area,

5) trade with equal partners and

6) use the already established cultural and economic activities of the area for economic development, for example, conduct tours explaining the natural attractions of the area.

A final element of a sustainable community includes greening the community and living within the limits of the environment. We know we've already exceeded these limits by the level of nitrates in our rivers, the smell of car fumes, the presence of E.Coli in our water supplies, and by the hole in the ozone layer. When we add to these conditions the idea of cumulative effects, over fifty or one hundred years, it becomes evident that our accepted practices cannot remain the same. New practices must be adopted to conserve water, to deal with wastewater and storm water, to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, and to protect and conserve land. Modernized technologies are now available and competitive in price. Energy efficiency and conservation methods can actually reduce our use of fossil fuels by half! Wind and solar energies, combined, can offer long-term solutions, where the fuel is free and there are no waste by-products. Wastewater and sewage, often piped directly to the waterways and lakes, are now being treated in some communities in Nova Scotia and New England by a biological process, the solar aquatic method. This method purifies wastewater and sewage, and even heavy industrial waste, within three to five days, through the presence of a greenhouse containing common marsh plants, whose roots absorb contaminants. Further, the loss of natural spaces and green spaces can be resolved through a proper planning process (and respect for the plan). Land Trusts, which can be supported by government, citizens and partnerships, can create parks, gardens and model farms.

So, following this brief outline of the elements of the sustainable community, where do we begin? First, interested citizens must form a committee and make a proposal to their municipal council. Support from the latter is essential for the success of such a long-term project. Once you have the support of the town or city council, a new committee can be created of interested persons and community leaders.