From Donna Passmore:
Twenty years ago today, the City of Vancouver released the Clouds of Change report.
It was the culmination of a year and a half of meetings in a dank, airless meeting room at Vancouver City Hall, and some of the most exciting public hearings I’ve been involved in throughout my 25-year environmental career. I’ll never forget the elementary school children or having the likes of Larry Berg and Nancy Skinner fly up from California to present.
The late Dr. David Bates’ appearance before our Task Force was a significant moment quite beyond the work we were doing, because it was the first time (thanks to the Shaw cable broadcast of the full proceedings) that the people of the region became aware of the research that David and his colleagues had been doing, and the concrete connections they had drawn between smog episodes and spikes in hospital visits.
I ran into Diana Colnett at a SmartGrowth event several years ago and she reminded me of the presentation we heard from this obscure startup company that was trying to market something called a hydrogen fuel cell — and how incredibly far both Ballard Power and the technology advanced from that seemingly inauspicious moment.
It took 15 years and a seemingly ungreen Stephen Harper to pick up our recommendation to give bus riders a tax break. I think Ian Moffatt, who presented the suggestion during the public hearings, must be very proud.
When a group of us got together four years ago around
our 16th, it was pretty amazing to watch people of such diverse but significant achievement all point to the Clouds of Change as one of, if not THE, proudest accomplishment of our lives. Not without reason.
It was the world’s first municipal blueprint for responding to global warming, a concept that was very young and pure science fiction to many people. Mark Roseland and Diana Collnet were brilliant young grad students of Bill’s, and for both of them, the Clouds of Change experience was a career launchpad.
At the get together four years ago, Mark reminded us that it was this body of work that gave rise to the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) – which I think Vancouver’s David Cadman chairs. And ours is a body of work that Mark estimated at the time had been replicated or adapted by approximately 8,000 local governments around the world.
And thanks, Donna, for your ongoing commitment to the issues that were raised in a comprehensive way in this report. I’d also add that it was Mark Roseland’s additonal recommentation to use the city lands at Southeast False Creek for an experiment in an energy-efficient community that led to the Olympic Village project – now one of the greenest communities in the world.