Climate change is by far the biggest threat to our quality of life. We are now at risk of extreme heat, extreme rainfall, drought, flooding, and unpredictable seasons.
For example, our biggest, one-day rainfalls ever recorded happened in January 2020 and September 2021. That’s not a fluke. We could very well experience the kind of heat waves that recently affected California, Vancouver and Europe.
Cities can fight climate change and our local actions will make a visible difference in our own neighbourhoods. Waterloo needs to urgently build on its climate action strategy.
This issue of affordable housing was brewing before the pandemic and it’s just gotten worse with our current inflation challenges. Obviously we need more housing supply but it’s not as easy as building a new subdivision or approving a bunch of new towers.
How we choose to use land today will be a blessing or curse for Waterloo’s citizens 20 years from now.
We have to tackle housing and climate at the same time. One of the ways we do that is by integrating our housing and transportation strategy. We have to make it easy and appealing for people to choose to live in dense neighbourhoods.
Uptown Waterloo has experienced some hardships with years of mainstreet construction followed by pandemic closures. It’s not easy to run a small business in this context. A vibrant Uptown will help recruit new talent to the area, keep families in the core of the city, and support older residents who seek to age in place.
We need young people to take part in local decision-making. Over the last decade, I was involved in a series of projects where global experts worked collaboratively with a cohort of young people to create strategies to solve some of our most wicked problems. We need this sort of approach at the municipal level.
We need to work with people from across the city to envision what our neighbourhoods might look like in the future, and then co-create those visions.
We must depart from top-down approaches and source ideas from across the community.
We have to measure stuff and check our progress against our goals. To do that, we have to first make sure that we’re measuring the right things. And that’s where new kinds of democratic engagement can take root. By diving into what matters with people across Waterloo, it becomes more than numbers: we ground truth our data collection.
And most importantly, we need to invite the people and organizations who are already doing the work to lead.