"My Sudbury is a Green City" was the message at the first public input session for Greater Sudbury's Official Plan Review

Feb 20, 2012

"My Sudbury is a Green City" was the message at the first public input session for Greater Sudbury's Official Plan Review

“How do you see Sudbury in twenty years?”  Put another way, “what type of city do you want to live in?”   These are the questions residents of Greater Sudbury are being asked during the municipality’s Official Plan review.  Going by the first public input session held January 23, the answer is green and healthy. 

“I want to live in  a city that is walkable and pedestrian friendly, has public transit that is good and affordable, and a city that follows sustainable environmental practices,”  wrote Blaire Flynn, in a submission that was echoed by many others painting a vision of a sustainable community with a high quality of life..  John Gaul added a sense of urgency, writing “The next twenty years will need to be a period of rapid transition to a completely different type of city.  A Green City.”

With an estimated 150 citizens packed into Council Chambers, fourteen community groups, eleven individuals and one representative of industry presented their submissions.  Twenty of the twenty-six presentations spoke to a vision of  a sustainable community. 

This theme was also seen in the written submissions received before January 23 from twelve community groups, thirty-six individuals, and three representatives of industry.  All submissions from community groups advocated for a greener future.  Among individual written submissions, 50% did the same, and an additional 17% made specific ‘green’ requests for their area such as bike lanes or improvements to transit.  Four individuals wrote in with a contrasting vision, opposing bike lanes, or advocating for easier subdivision of rural land.  The remaining 22% of individual submissions spoke to matters of concern with a specific property or neighbourhood.

Supporting active transportation, protecting lake water quality and watershed health, and enabling local food and agriculture were the topics most touched on, consistent with emerging trends identified by city planners, and with priorities identified by the local environmental community.

Rainbow Routes Association invited people to see the city through the eyes of an eight year old girl to illustrate that “the best communities make active transportation easier, more convenient and more attractive for everyone, including 8 year olds, people with accessibility issues, people living on low income, people in and behind a stroller.”

In this City of Lakes, many identified the need to address the impact of development in the watershed on water quality.  “No building development should be allowed in wetland or floodplain areas as they are natural filtering areas”, wrote David Furino.

Similar sentiments were expressed in regards to protecting natural areas.  “Consider the quite necessary health benefit of preserving our ever diminishing green spaces for future generational enjoyment,”  urged John Larmen in his written submission.   Like many others, his submission also spoke to the value of the trails and natural area behind Laurentian University and the desire to protect this area by removing plans for a proposed road (the LU link) from the Official Plan.

Creating walkable communities, and addressing climate change were also recurring topics.  “Climate change is connected to everything,”  stated Cathy Orlando, who leads the local chapter of the Climate Change Lobbyists.

In 2005, residents had the opportunity to have their say on the first draft of Greater Sudbury’s Official Plan.  As seen in the Planning Committee minutes, community stakeholders had already conveyed to city planners the importance of active transportation, lake water quality, and protecting agricultural land.  However, of twenty presentations made by the public, only three spoke to a larger green vision for the city, and public input meetings were poorly attended.  There has been a marked increase in community engagement.  Why is this the case?

Mark Simeoni, Manager of Community and Strategic Planning, pointed to the city’s new use of social media tools such as Facebook, twitter and webpages, as one reason.  Another likely reason is the growth of community engagement in general.  Of the fourteen community groups that presented January 23, at least half did not exist in 2005.  This speaks to a growing involvement in the community on these issues.  It also means that there are many more networks of like-minded people, facilitating the sharing of relevant information, such as the opportunity to express their vision during the Official Plan review. 

The Official Plan is a roadmap of how the city can change and grow.  This review, mandated every five years by the Province of Ontario, is an opportunity to check the map and make sure it’s still taking us where we want to go.  Citizens can continue to submit input on-line, by mail, or at further public input events expected in the coming months.  Details can be found at www.greatersudbury.ca/officialplan.  To view submissions to the January 23rd public meeting , click on ‘Participation’.


Naomi Grant presented on behalf of Coalition of a Liveable Sudbury January 23


Please note that when tallying the number of submissions, multiple submissions from the same source were counted as a single submission, and letters of support for a given submission were not counted as separate submissions.