St. John's has a long history of the "heritage versus
development" debate, and it is likely to increase in intensity over
the coming years as our economy continues its unprecedented growth.
Happy City believes this is a good thing, but we want it to be more
of a constructive dialogue rather than a win-lose debate.
As the City of St. John's
reviews its municipal plan, we see the opportunity to inform the
dialogue at a high level. To this end, Happy City brought
together some major voices to discuss not so much where the
diagreements lie, but rather to document the views we all share
regarding heritage, development, and how we can work together to
serve the entire city.
Because most of our City's built heritage is concentrated
downtown, we invited Downtown
St. John's to sit at the table. They represent the many
businesses that operate in the core district of the downtown
(primarily Duckworth and Water Streets).
Many of the businesses that are the driving force behind the
development pressure we have in the city sit on the St. John's Board of Trade. The
Board is an active voice in municipal affairs and has a great deal
of insight into what makes development possible.
And a vocal advocate of Heritage, the Newfoundland Historic
Trust, was an ideal partner in this dialogue because the
organization has been the impetus for much of our city's heritage
preservation to date. Incidentally, the Trust is a member of the
Board of Trade.
The starting point for the dialgoue was the idea that these
groups share more in common than many realize. For example, the
Trust has recently been expanding its mandate to advocate
sustainable development; this fits in nicely with the Board of
Trade's expressed desire for "smart infrastructure planning" which
entails building things that last.
After an enthusiastic meeting, a flurry of email activity, and
multiple document revisions, a three-page report was produced, and
it contains this note in the opening:
"It is our hope that this document, in highlighting a set of
shared views from disparate groups, will help the City create a
plan that works for everyone."
And that's just the point: City Hall is working to manage very
rapid changes in our city with multiple pressure points and
uncertainties. What we're trying to do is show the city what we all
agree on so they at least have a solid foundation for discussing
the contentious issues.
here to read the final report, which was submitted to
City Hall as part of its municipal plan review process.
What do you think? Can consensus building lead the way to a