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View from the Cordillera

A Commentary on Achieving Excellence in Local Government
Read by Municipal Leaders on 4 Continents
Published by the Cordillera Institute
(Vol. 4, Issue 13)
Are Some Green Policies Turning Our Communities Brown?
To order the full text of this commentary or to become a subscriber, see the notes below.

Summary of This Commentary
In the democratic tradition, there is a debate of the issues before the setting of policy or the imposition of regulations.  When it comes to environmental issues, however, we have to ask: where is the debate?  Is it in the major media where most adults go to be informed?  Is it in the classroom where our young people are supposed to be receiving an education?  Far too often, environmental questions are presented to us as 'settled science'.  Yet, time after time, this settled science turns out to be flawed.  While most environmental policies are made by our senior governments, our municipalities are often expected to implement them — whether or not you agree with them or with the ways you are expected to apply them to your community.

Even when you are not involved directly in implementing environmental policies, they can have a serious impact on your community.  Just ask any community which once depended on the riches of the environment for its living.  Ask any of the communities along our salt-water coasts or those along the shorelines of the Great Lakes, which once depended on government-controlled, now-depleted fisheries.  Ask any of the communities which once depended on our Appalachian or Laurentian Shield or great western forests — forests owned or controlled by our senior governments.  Ask any of the communities in our western drylands which once depended on government-controlled water to irrigate the crops and water the livestock in their districts.  In the Province of Newfoundland, almost every community once depended on the fisheries or the forests.  Many are now just shadows of what they once were.  Today, the agricultural communities of California's Central Valley are withering because senior-government environmental policies have turned off the irrigation taps.  While the continent as a whole is suffering from an average unemployment rate of nearly 10%, unemployment in some Central Valley communities is approaching 40%.

To examine the roots of these very serious problems, we need to brush aside the 'fertilizer' being used to cover them.  This issue does just that.  And, it offers recommendations for restoring the productivity of our fisheries, our forests, and our water resources.  Neither I nor anyone else at the Institute wishes to sacrifice the environment on the altar of the economy.  But, this need not be a one-or-the-other choice.  We can protect the environment without damaging the economies of our communities.  If we do, our green policies will give us green communities — in every sense of the word.

As always, we welcome your comments.

David Barber
Director
Cordillera Institute
(416) 293-9300
CordInst@istar.ca
http://pages.istar.ca/~cordinst/



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About This Publication
Each issue of View from the Cordillera covers some aspect of excellence in local government.  It may examine one of the success elements; it may present a case study; it may introduce a resource (an individual, a group, a publication, etc.) which is advancing excellence; it may advocate a new direction for local government; or it may identify a wrong turn in public policy and offer an appropriate remedy.  This electronic publication is read by those who govern, manage, support, and sustain our local governments.  For more information, just click on the About VFC button below.

About the Cordillera Institute
The Cordillera Institute is an independent research and public policy organization dedicated to excellence in local government.  Since our founding in 1994, we have studied many high-performance organizations to learn what makes them successful.  From this research, we have distilled a set of principles, paradigms, policies, programs, and practices which are the key elements of their success.  Our mission is to be a catalyst — to empower municipalities, school boards, public utilities, and other local public agencies to achieve excellence by adopting and applying these success elements.  For more information, just click on the About CI button below.

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