Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Surrey makes progress on its sustainability goals

In 2008, City of Surrey Council adopted the Surrey Sustainability Charter. This charter, like an official community plan, is a key document that guides how the City operates and how it plans for the future. The Surrey Sustainability Charters is based on three pillars: economic, environmental, and social-cultural.

While it is great to have sustainability charters, they aren’t very useful if a city and its council ignores the charter. Also since sustainability charters normally contain long-term goals, it is very important to be able to track the progress towards these goals.

One of the great things that the City of Surrey has done is create an online Sustainability Dashboard. The dashboard contains both the long-term goals from the Sustainability Charter, and reporting on the City’s progress towards these goals. There is certainly room for improvement in Surrey. Because Surrey reports back on its progress towards sustainability goals, it can target areas where it isn't meeting those goals.

While I know that certain anti-tax people will hate this, public art is part of Surrey’s Sustainability Charter. Drilling down in the dashboard, I was able to find that the City believes that “public art pieces are components of a community's identity and unique character. They also express community values, increase awareness, enhance the landscape, and transform a city's image.”

Using the Sustainability Dashboard, I found that the City of Surrey spent around $300k on public art in 2008 and around $600k in public art in 2013.

Speaking about 2013, last week the City of Surrey updated the Sustainability Dashboard with 2013 data. According to the City:

  • A significant increase in residential garbage diversion from 38% in 2007 to 68% in 2013 with the introduction of the organics waste collection program.
  • An increase in active transportation infrastructure with over 100 kilometers of greenways, park paths and trails, and cycling trails added since 2010.
  • Between 2006 and 2013, that has been an increase of more than 560 social housing units, as a result of the construction of additional units of supportive/transitional housing units.
  • Early achievement of the target for accessibility of bus stops, with 76% of these stops meeting accessibility criteria in 2013.
  • Ongoing decreases in average daily residential water consumption, due largely to the City’s water metering and behavioural change initiatives.
  • Continued high levels of volunteering, with 4,000 volunteers noted in 2013.
  • A steady increase in the number of registered arts and culture groups with Surrey Arts Council, and the number of cultural business licenses in the City.

You can view data from 2008 to 2013 at Surrey’s Sustainability Dashboard website.

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