Working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the Centre for Sustainability has created the Quick Start Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) process.  Quick Start is the ideal way for smaller communities to be introduced to a full-function, community-developed ICSP tailored to local circumstances without the time and expense of developing a one-off process.

In Osoyoos, the town with Canada’s Warmest Welcome, the community realized that sustainability planning was about ensuring future success, and wanted to make it explicit that sustainability needed to address Social, Economic, and Environmental objectives two key factors that are reflected in the ICSP’s name:  SEE Osoyoos Succeed.

Two of the features of the Quick Start approach are that it is designed to incorporate all of the aspects of sustainability that communities could and should be doing to move towards sustainability and it builds upon the community’s existing vision and sustainability initiatives.  This approach allows a considerable streamlining of the process and avoids the tendency to reinvent the wheel, allowing process stakeholders to focus their energy on where the community should be and how to get there.

In Osoyoos, the vision was found right in their current Official Community Plan (OCP) and said it all Osoyoos vision is to excel as a Smart Growth community which meets current and future population needs in a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable manner.

While ensuring that the ICSP is complete and robust enough to serve as the community’s overarching policy document, Quick Start also allows a community to establish its own Priorities, Strategy Areas, Descriptions of Success for the future, Actions to move towards that future, and Indicators to monitor progress and keep the community on track.

In Osoyoos, for example, the town created a unique Strategy Area, The Lake, reflecting the role of Osoyoos Lake not only as an economic and recreation asset, but also as the spiritual heart of the town and valley, a major determinant of community livability, and an environmental treasure that needs to be safeguarded for future generations.  Descriptions of Success reflect local issues and the current reality.  In Osoyoos, for example, these reflect a desire for affordable housing for the significant seasonal and permanent population, a diverse year-round economy based on the town’s existing strengths to attract young families, and sustainable buildings and sites that respected the town’s spectacular setting and took advantage of abundant sunshine in Canada’s only desert.

Along with the ICSP Document, Quick Start also includes an implementation toolkit that helps make sure that the plan can be put into action right away, including an ICSP-based decision making framework to evaluate plans, policies, projects, and practices, and an indicators and monitoring system for annual reporting.  The Centre also delivers an engagement process that brings community stakeholders in as equal partners with the local government, responsible for ongoing monitoring, action planning, and implementation to move towards the community sustainability plan’s future vision.

There are a variety of ways to fund an ICSP.  While some prefer to compete with other communities for available grant and cost-sharing funding, such as the FCM’s Green Municipal Funds, the quickest and easiest way to get started on the road to sustainability in BC is to use the community’s allocated Community Works Fund from the gas tax agreement. ICSPs qualify without restrictions for CWF funds, and all that is needed is notification to UBCM, the gas tax administrator, of how the funds will be used.

Mark Allison