The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District is about to embark on an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP).
The board, which has representatives from Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and Lillooet, as well as adjacent areas that lie outside municipalities, passed a recommendation on Tuesday to prepare terms of reference for such a plan.
Once implemented, it would align the SLRD's corporate mission with sustainable principles, as well as develop policies for "green procurement" in all of the SLRD's purchases and subcontracts, and ensure a "green corporate culture" within the district. It would also develop a regular monitoring function to track "key indicators."
The recommendation to the board, from Strategy Planner Kim Needham, came with three options. The first said the board could just not engage in sustainability planning; the second said the board could prepare terms of reference for a process to review all existing sustainability initiatives and develop a plan to coordinate and implement them.
The report weighed heavily in favour of a third option. It encouraged the board to engage in a "comprehensive, collaborative and broad-scoped Integrated Community Sustainability Planning process" with 12 strategies and priorities attached. These included the initiative to foster a "green corporate culture" within the regional district.
The report said the SLRD could pay for the plan out of reserves it has generated from Gas Tax revenues. Needham said in her report that the planning process could cost less than $175,000 - the very same amount that the Whistler Centre for Sustainability (WCS) is being paid to do an ICSP for the City of Williams Lake.
If the board approves it, the plan could provide a plum opportunity for the Centre, an independent consulting firm that provides sustainable planning services for Whistler and other communities.
Asked whether the SLRD would outsource any work on an ICSP to the centre, Administrator Paul Edgington said the regional district would look at what can be done with in-house resources and then decide whether that is necessary. It would then issue a Request for Proposals.
The report got support from Whistler Director and Mayor Ken Melamed. He commended Needham for the report and said the plan was a "critical investment" for the future.
He stressed, however, that he wants the regional district to look at sustainability less as a balance between economic, environmental and social needs and more as a dependence on the Earth's "ecological services."
"In Whistler we call it the hierarchy of the pillars of sustainability," he said.
Susie Gimse, director for Electoral Area C of the regional district, said there was a "lot of information" in the report and requested that the board send it to a committee of the whole with Needham for more discussion.
"Ken, you deal with this stuff all the time," she said, addressing Melamed. "For the rest of us, it takes some time to understand how it will be applied going forward."
Gimse then addressed the Gas Tax funding that Needham recommended be put toward the plan. She said the Gas Tax money was gathered from the Electoral Areas and they hadn't been consulted before the planner recommended that the funds go towards a sustainability plan.
"I was surprised that there was no discussion with us," she said. "I don't disagree that there might not be a contribution from the gas tax money, it's a worthwhile project and I can see a contribution made. But I don't think the whole amount needs to come from that fund and I think there needs to be discussion between all the electoral area directors."
The board agreed with Gimse to send the plan to a committee of the whole.