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Elizabeth Evans May

Elizabeth May calls for better planning

Elizabeth Evans May 55%

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Green party Leader Elizabeth May wondered Thursday how much better Canadian communities would be if there was better planning at the top levels of government.

May was speaking at the annual meeting of Canadian Association of Planning Students held at the University of Guelph. The conference, attended by 185 planning students from across the country, runs from Thursday to Saturday.

May did not attend the conference in person. She spoke via Skype on the internet.

May went on at length about how she felt the federal government’s stimulus package did not address the need for more and improved mass transit, which in turn would reduce greenhouse emissions.

“Redesign suburbia,” May said. “Because as a country, we are moving in the wrong direction . . . we are losing access to passenger rail and we are losing bus service.”

May said the stimulus plan was “hard-wired” to bad planning because it did not address long-term goals or offer solutions that took more than a year to complete.

She also pointed to December’s Copenhagen conference on climate change as a perfect example of how big government is failing in planning for the environmental future while lower levels of government are taking charge.

She said at the Copenhagen conference the best ideas for change came from junior levels of government such as municipal and state governments.

“We have to plan for a very different future,” May said. “We have to re-plan, rethink at almost every level of society.”

May called the Copenhagen conference “a failure.”

“There’s no dressing it up as a partial success,” she said, “and fortunately, a failure was a preferable option to a fake success and now we have to get on to the real bindings, the legal agreements for reducing of gases, very rapidly.”

The planners of tomorrow will play a critical role in making sure we move forward in a more sensible, environmentally friendly way.

“We are like a group of people trying to do that jigsaw puzzle, but we’ve lost the top of the box,” May said. “But what the picture will look like eventually when it’s put together properly is what you have in your head.”

Marni Cappe, president of the Canadian Institute of Planners, also addressed the students. She urged them to take risks.

“Think about planning and be part of the solution,” Cappe said. “Don’t be afraid of m. stakes. The most important thing is to learn from your mistakes.”


By Tony Saxon

Source: GuelphMercury.com& nbsp;(Feb 04,2010)

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