Regular readers of my blog have heard me mention the Transition Movement, a global collection of people in ‘Transition Towns’ who are working on projects to make their communities more resilient to potential social shocks. The three most urgent threats are dependence on carbon-based energy, climate change, and economic globalization. I won’t go into more detail here. There is a lot more to explore online for anyone interested.
Transition encourages individual action without dependence on governments or agencies. But I would like to explore how the Transition philosophy might apply to Innisfil’s current Official Plan exercise, Our Place. After all, our council members can choose to act on our behalf in a manner supportive of Transition. The objectives would be:
- Greater self-sufficiency in our basic necessities: food, energy, transportation, employment and housing
- An “energy descent” plan to transition to a local low carbon economy
- More local employment opportunities
Planners have already pointed out that the majority of urban space is public space used for roads, utilities, sidewalks, trails, parks and sports fields. Additional land is used for community resources such as recreation centres, arenas, and libraries.
How can the Transition philosophy influence the current Official Plan review? Many initiatives will require public space, or access to public space. We need to add to the list of public spaces to make room for urban farms, community gardens, neighbourhood markets, bikeways and trails connecting neighbourhoods, and natural ‘wild’ spaces.
- Ensure Innisfil’s agricultural economy remains economically strong and viable must be a priority
- Zone specifically for ‘urban agriculture’ within settlement areas to offset the loss of conventional farmland
- Leverage public properties for the adoption of alternate energy projects and aim to make Innisfil a net producer of energy
- Should we try to attract conventional industry to an area without sewage service? Does it make sense to spend millions on infrastructure to compete with Barrie and Bradford as an industrial/manufacturing centre?
These are just starting points. Many more ideas go beyond simple land use planning and I’ll get into some of those next.