Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Clean, Green, and Accessible

The Task Force to Bring Back the Don has been doing alot of navel gazing recently. Over the past year or so the Task Force has considered the Bridgepoint Health Centre (formerly Riverdale Hospital) development plans and what to do about it. One member, let's call the person Leslie (now there's an androgenous pseudonym), in particular has been very vocal in opposition to these plans. In the end the Task Force voted to not take a position on the development plans, a tacit support I suppose.

Leslie of course was very unhappy with this turn of events and continued to voice disapproval. Leslie said, "IMO, the Bridgepoint proposal doesn't fit with my interpretation of the Task Foce slogan of 'Clean Green and Accessible'. But what does that slogan mean? It's very much open to interpretation. Let's try to nail down a more precise definition. I am sure that if we get it right, it will provide a clearer guideline to future Task Force members on how to approach future proposals like Bridgepoint. That way it will make things easier to make decisions, maybe even create a checklist which we could use to evaluate future proposals to determine if they fit or not. " We said, "OK, Leslie, maybe you're right."

So, over the past 9 months we have discussed, argued, and wordsmithed a longer description of just what is meant by 'Clean, Green, and Accessible'. In the end we produced a document that we could pretty much agree on. But what do we do with it? Do we enshrine it as part of our Terms of Reference? Or just keep it as a position paper? My opinion is definitely with the latter.

The Task Force does not have permanent members. We get reappointed with every term of council. Old members quit, they move out of the city, they get burned out or they simply lose interest.New members get appointed to replace them. Some of us do hang around for multiple terms but that accounts for only about 1/3 of the members. The Task Force has existed for about 5 terms of council and each one has been slightly different. Each citizen member brings his or her own set of qualities and interests and the collective sum has produced a slightly different flavour of doing things. IMHO, it doesn't make sense to try and impose our own world view on future Task Forces because they will likely be different than the current version. So the decision was to leave it as an internal document to be used as an orientation for Task Force members of the future.

Don't get me wrong. From my point of view all this internalizing was a useful exercise. "Clean, Green and Accessible" to me has been a catchy marketing slogan. Now if somebody asks, what do you mean by that? Well now I can whip out this document and say "Here is good description. Take it as you will."

P.S. I was hoping to post the text of the document but it's kind of long so I will save it for a future post.

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