“The monumental
challenge of ensuring that possibly 10 x 109 people are decently
fed and housed within less than two
human generations-without damaging the environment on which we all
depend- means that the goal of
environmental sustainability must be reached as soon as humanly
possible.” (Daly and Goodland, 1996)


Environmental degradation,
pollution, and population growth have become humanity’s most pressing issues and
challenge us to think about the sustainability  
of   our   planet  
as   well   as  
our immediate   spaces.   These  
issues   engage   our society, simultaneously, in a number of ways. The
so-called “pillars” of sustainability, speak to our social, cultural, economic, governance, ecological,
and built environments, and
their ability to sustain
themselves   over   time. 
 experience   with

sustainability has been such that no one decision can be made in isolation
to another. That is,
sustainability engages many pillars simultaneously.


Affirming that
sustainability needs to be considered holistically and in our future
decision-making, the Government of Canada, in
partnership with the Federation  of 
Canadian  Municipalities 
(FCM), created the Green Municipal Fund (GMF)
in 2000. The fund seeks to attain a
number of goals around sustainable  development 
in  Canadian municipalities. For example,
the fund provides for financial
assistance to municipalities to develop an Integrated Community Sustainability
Plan (ICSP) (FCM, 2009). The purpose
of these plans is to integrate land-use, transportation, water and
wastewater, infrastructure, and
overall long-term planning  towards 
projects  that  support sustainability (FCM, 2009).
Furthermore, municipalities that are in conformity with the GMF
gain  access




Canada’s Gas Tax Fund (GTF). The GTF “supports environmentally  sustainable  municipal infrastructure projects
that contribute to cleaner
air, cleaner water and reduced greenhouse gas emissions” (Infrastructure
Canada, 2009a). Communities that
prepare these ICSPs become eligible
for funding to support future development
projects,  as  these  plans  provide  direction  for
federal funding. These projects
should seek to
enhance  the  overall  sustainability
community. Projects around public transit, water, wastewater infrastructure, community energy systems, solid waste management,
local roads and bridges, and capacity
building are supported through this funding mechanism (Infrastructure Canada, 2009a/b). It seems
evident from this federal framework that the GMF and GTF seek to address some
of the broader societal issues around
sustainability at the community level.

The Case of Cochrane



Alberta, is a case in point for the application of the GMF towards funding the development of an ICSP. Cochrane’s ICSP process was self titled: “Cochrane Sustainability Plan: Think long 
term.  Look  at 
the  whole.  See 
the connections.” (Town of Cochrane, 2009b).
Early in

2008, Cochrane
initiated the development of its ICSP. Cochrane employed the support of a consultant, Sturgess Architecture (Sturgess), to support
the development of the Cochrane Sustainability
Plan (CSP). Sturgess recommended that Cochrane enlist the support of the not-for- profit International Centre for Sustainable Cities
(Sustainable Cities) to provide a framework and support the town on the
project through its extensive experience and knowledge of
best practices. Sustainable Cities recommended that the Town adopt a best practice known as the PLUS
Cycle (PLUS). PLUS is a new and emerging best




practice and,
possibly, a generational shift in the development of ICSPs. PLUS, Sustainable
Cities claims, is characterised by
citizen leadership of the planning
process with the community providing
resources,  support  and 
direction,  and  the consultant supporting both
groups. The desired outcome is that the
community will prepare a plan
for citizens to implement and the
Town to support. Generally, municipalities
that are undertaking this type of exercise engage
in significant, both in intensity and extent, consultation. This takes on the form of public meetings where the
public considers pre-determined options
or scenarios and vote or comment on these proposals.
approach differs from this
somewhat and this may speak to how
this process is different from earlier ICSP exercises.

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