Governance and Sustainability

Surrey, British Columbia, is home to the Headwaters Project; the Project is essentially a task force dedicated to a more sustainable way of developing and building communities throughout the province. The success of the project means a careful maintenance and knowledge of local and Canadian governance; it also means keeping an eye towards more global governance issues and discovering what reforms might be necessary to existing governance so that sustainability projects being developed now and in the future might succeed.

Given that the Headwaters Project is about implementing a different outlook on community building, this particular project is a local one. Canadian cities are each responsible for the spending of their own budget, and this includes community development and related tasks. Cities in British Columbia and all of Canada have learned to rely on certain companies when they employ builders, designers and city planners and because of this many of them continue to grow in the same manner they have done for decades.

To make the Headwaters Project work on a larger scale, it becomes necessary not to rely on the cities themselves to change their methods but to encourage the companies in charge of development to use different methods. Sustainability needs to be presented as a viable option not only for environmental and local reasons but for fiscal reasons as well. In this case, the Headwaters Project can be marketed as a way to cut construction costs because of the way its designers will work with existing natural elements in the landscape and keep public transportation systems and other infrastructural components simple and practical.

Other countries and provinces are growing more concerned with their sustainability issues as well, and so in the coming years it will be important to watch similar global initiatives expand and see how they are succeeding or failing in their endeavours. Eventually these organisations and plans will meet and it will be necessary for them to accommodate one another. Investment in foreign sustainability plans could mean that those initiatives which mesh well with the Headwaters Project are given the funding they need to grow and eventually work side by side with similar organisations.

In this case it is important that planners learn to work locally and to think about the key actors in city development: community planners themselves and the companies that are hired to do the actual work. While it is the federal government who is most often called upon to enact sustainable projects that will mean a better future for Canadians across the country, it is in fact the local government who is responsible for the development of cities and therefore responsible for the sustainable infrastructure of the entire country.