Integrated Community SustainabZzzzzzz…

The city of St. John’s is accepting feedback until March 5th on a draft of an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP). If you are like most people, you might ask: What in the hell is an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan?

Well, the ICSP (Ick-Sup?) is one of those road map documents intended to help city government plan a St. John’s that survives and thrives in the long term. It’s a plan based around five pillars: environment, culture, social, economy and government. And it’s supposed to be developed “in consultation with community members.”

Really though, as it says on the first page of the draft document, it seems like we’re doing it just because we signed the provincial Gas Tax Agreement and we’re going to get cash. For St. John’s, the ICSP means almost four and a half million bucks.

The city of St. John’s chose to base its ICSP on the existing Municipal Plan—another road map for the future of the city—feeling that it already addressed these pillars, and was already drafted with what they said was “extensive” public consultation. You can take a look at it yourself at the city website at tinyurl.com/yhug82b.

I’ve got lots of problems with the draft ICSP prepared by the city. For one, the argument that an amendment to the Municipal Plan constitutes public consultation does not hold water with me. That “extensive” consultation took place during the drafting of the Municipal Plan way back in 2002 and 2003. And how thorough it was is questionable…

Speaking of which, our present Municipal Plan is almost two years overdue for a review, and at the February 22 meeting of city council, a motion by Shannie Duff to open the possibility of reviewing the Municipal Plan before the completion of the provinces NE Avalon Regional Plan was defeated. The current round of public consultation on the ICSP (which includes a website with “Comments” written at the bottom) is cursory at best, considering it must be submitted to the Department of Municipal Affairs by March 31st.

The draft ICSP also fails to meet several other vital components required by the province, including identifying “goals and specific actions”, “fiscal requirements and realities related to the implementation of the plan”, “collaboration with neighbouring municipalities, communities, or regional entities,” and most importantly, “some kind of monitoring and evaluation process to ensure the document is always relevant”.

For the ICSP to succeed in guiding the city to becoming a greener, more sustainable place to live, it needs explicit goals. It also must lay out a path to achieve these goals, and have provisions to review the plan to ensure it is succeeding. Otherwise the ICSP will be just another document for the city to ignore when it chooses. Like the Municipal Plan… or the Municipal Arts Plan.

A plan is only as good as the change it creates.

Make sure you take a look at the draft document at tinyurl.com/yhug82b and send your feedback to the city planning department (planning@stjohns.ca) by March 5th.