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Achieving Sustainability. “Is Your Municipality Viable?” Keynote Address – November 22, 2010. Mary Gibson CA, CMC. Is ‘sustainability’ the new black?. Or a paradigm shift?. Board Governance of IT. Mobile Entertainment & Communication. eCommerce. Copernican Astronomy. Pay Equity.

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or a paradigm shift
Or a paradigm shift?

Board Governance of IT

Mobile Entertainment & Communication


Copernican Astronomy

Pay Equity


Governance Rules & Standards

  • “Operating in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
            • Source: Bruntland Commission, 1987
or put another way
Or put another way....
  • A call to action
  • A task in progress
  • A journey...

Sustainability requires.... COMMITMENT

to a new way of looking at municipal governance

sustainability principles
Sustainability Principles
  • Guiding vision and goals
  • Take a holistic view
  • Consider equity & disparity within the current population and between present & future generations
  • Adopt a long-enough time horizon to respond to short-term decision-making needs as well as those of future generations
  • Measure progress using a limited number of indicators
  • Institutional capacity & access to reliable information
  • Openness & broad participation
  • Collaboration
  • Ongoing assessment
why is sustainability important
Why is sustainability important?
  • Role of municipalities is to provide services/infrastructure to their residents, at a cost they can afford & are willing to pay
  • If services cannot be reasonably provided, maintained & funded according to legislated standards.....municipal viability is at risk
  • Sustainability Strategy empowers municipalities & offers the potential for more effective municipal governance
who s responsible
Who’s responsible?
  • Municipal councillors have ultimate responsibility for the sustainability of their municipalities
  • Sustainability ‘mindset’ must permeate all levels of the organization

“Set the tone at the top, carry the tune in the middle, drive the beat of the feet at the bottom.”

Dr. Mervyn King

King Code on Corporate Governance for South Africa

dimensions of sustainability
Dimensions of Sustainability

Approach to working with neighbours to benefit local & regional residents

Capacity to provide essential services

Ability to generate & manage revenues to meet municipal needs

Effective & efficient management of public infrastructure

Capacity to maintain operations & support Council decisions

Characteristics that contribute to vitality & viability

Council practices, strategic planning, citizen engagement

Capacity to identify & manage key risks

common objections
Common Objections
  • No time (we have other, more urgent issues to deal with)
  • Don’t know how/don’t have the required expertise on Council
  • This is the administration’s job
  • Can’t afford to

“Knowledge is power.”

- Sir Francis Bacon, 1597

self assessment toolkit
Self-Assessment Toolkit
  • Components
    • Checklists
      • Indicators of trends, progress, areas requiring attention
    • Key measures
      • Financial
      • Non-financial
    • Inventory of capacity-building tools
  • Purpose: enable municipalities to evaluate their current situation
    • Areas of strength
    • Areas where improvement desirable or necessary
building capacity
Building capacity
  • Municipal Services Branch (MA)
    • Information
    • General advisory and services related to each dimension of sustainability
    • Advocacy
    • Initiatives
    • Shared services
    • Capacity building tools
  • Federation of Canadian Municipalities
    • Publications
stronger united
Stronger. United.
  • Business & business associations
  • Community support services
  • Educational institutions (K-12 & post-secondary)
  • Community organizations
  • Neighbouring municipalities
  • Local citizens, including youth and seniors’ groups
so what if we don t address sustainability
So....what if we don’t address sustainability?
  • Risk always exists, whether it is detected or recognized by the municipality. It is important to identify and manage potentially significant issues.

Assessment of sustainability is a prerequisite to informed decision making and implementation of effective strategies.

final thoughts
Final Thoughts
  • Sustainability is not something you do once and then you’re’s a new way of thinking about municipal governance
  • Keep it simple to start with and evolve over time
  • The process is as important as the result
  • Any progress is good progress

“We cannot look at the future as a continuation of the past....the things that got you where you are , are seldom the things that keep you there.”

- Charles Hardy, British business philosopher