The City of Burnaby has formed the steering committee for its new environmental sustainability strategy, including members from different facets of the community, according to Mayor Derek Corrigan.
"You'll see it's a really diverse group of people," he said, adding some come from backgrounds such as engineering, accounting, nursing and social services.
It's not a committee that is devoted simply to, 'let's put a bunch of environmentalists on this committee and make a decision about what we're going to do,'" he said. "That's not the way I wanted to approach it."
Committee members were picked through staff recommendations and in some cases by Corrigan, who is chairing the committee.
"For many of them, it was because I knew they had expressed to me on many occasions their real interest in the environment and in our community," he said. "I spent a lot of time really thinking about the people that were being involved, making sure that each of them brought something special to the discussion."
The goal of the strategy - as with the economic and social strategies before it - is to achieve balance, he said.
It is the last leg of the city's sustainability "stool," Corrigan has said, left to the last because it is one of the areas where the
city has had the most success in the past.
"Generally, it is one of the areas where we are most confident," he said. "So it isn't as
challenging, I think, as the social and economic sustainability plans were."
The committee will meet over the next year to come up with environmental recommendations and action plans for the coming decade, Corrigan said, adding the committee will be dealing with climate change and other issues.
"I think in looking at these issues, you want to bring people who have different backgrounds and come from different perspectives," he said. "For me, all of this has been about achieving balance."
Jeanne Fike, executive director of Burnaby Family Life, is on the steering committee and said she was "humbled by the appointment."
"This is a new area for me, so I will come with the perspective of a humble citizen wanting to learn," Fike said. "It's a passion of mine, and the mayor asked me to bring a lens from the people perspective, a social services perspective, to the committee."
Fike, who serves on two committees at the Burnaby Board of Trade, is also bringing the perspective of a non-profit business to the table, she said.
The board recently launched its environmental pledge campaign.
"It takes all of us to be really committed to make a cultural shift and mobilize real change," she said.
The committee also includes well-known environmentalists such as Byrne Creek streamkeeper Paul Cipywnyk.
"I think it's very forward-looking to create such documents using broad representation," Cipywnyk said. "I think it's going to be a very interesting process."
Burnaby has been progressive with its environmental policies in the past, he said, pointing out the city's open waterways policy, its protected shorelines and its park space.
He hopes the new strategy can focus on protecting what Burnaby already has, he said.
"I'll be looking at the issue of parks and natural spaces, and how we can best preserve them
as we're going forward," he said. "I think as we urbanize there is increasing pressure, particularly on the watersheds, as we continue to build to accommodate more population, we create more impervious ground (roads and parking lots)."
Some of the areas he is focusing on include rain gardens, for rainwater runoff; street-building options that filter storm water, preserving water quality in local creeks and lowering the impact of rain events, and maintaining wildlife corridors in the city.
Another prominent Burnaby environmentalist, Mark Angelo, chair emeritus of BCIT's Rivers Institute, is on the committee
and said he is looking forward to working on the strategy.
He will be working with "an incredible group of people," he said.
"I think it will be very, very progressive," he said of the strategy.
The other community members on the committee are: Harman Pandher, Diane Gillis, Dick Kouwenhoven, Paul Holden, Bill Schwartz, Dirk Odenwald, Chris Dikeakos, David Switzer, Jennie Moore, Isabel Kolic, KC Bell, Jack Gin and Tom Sigurdson.
Coun. Dan Johnston is vice-chair of the committee, and councillors Colleen Jordan, Richard Chang and Sav Dhaliwal are also on the committee.