So recently the City of Ottawa decided to put a hold on moving the U-pass closer to fruition. On November 12th, City councillors held a spirited bout of politics at the expense of moving the U-pass forward. I think that the council could use a lesson about another aspect of sustainability, sustainable funding sources.
The hope of the SFUO and the University of Ottawa is to use the U-pass pilot project to determine the true cost of transit for all students. Once the pilot project is finished and a true cost is determined, the students at the University of Ottawa will vote again on a referendum for the U-pass at the true cost. But the story doesn't end there, for you see students at Carleton University are ready to make the same vote. And the word on the street is that students at Algonquin College, Saint Paul's, Dominican College, and La Cité Collegiale are ready to vote as well. So if all goes according to plan than that means that there are potentially 100,000 students in the Ottawa region that could have a U-pass.
So why is this so important? Well 100,000 people is nothing to sneeze at. In fact it represents about 10% of the total population. Now Imagine that 10% of the City's population is guaranteed to pay for transit from now until...infinity I suppose. Well that means that the City of Ottawa would have an enormous source of sustainable funding.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
So there are like 100 different definitions for sustainable development. My little chunk of the pie is on the campus side of things. You see if there is going to be a big change in the way that we do things it is going to be here at academic institutions. Universities are centers of learning and excellence; they are the centers for innovation and analysis; they are the places where people become ideas and those ideas become change.
So if we can all agree that universities have a big role to play in pushing the sustainability agenda, then I suppose the next thing to do is define what sustainable development actually is. Like I said, over 100 definitions to work with and although some of them are kind of the same... many of them really aren't. And of course the only one that I really care about, I mean right now that is, is the one that deals with universities.
When we break all the definitions down, there are 2 principles that emerge. The first is inter-generational equity and the second is balance. Let's start with intergenerational equity, the idea that there needs to be fairness between generations. This is part of the classic definition that was coined by Gro Brundtland in her report entitled "Our Common Future". In it she states that sustainability is development that meets the needs of current generations without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. It is essentially a doctrine that admonishes inter-generational tyranny in the name of our children.
The second principle advocates balance between social, environmental, and economic factors. It is thought that by balancing these three elements, we can achieve sustainability. If any one of these three elements is neglected, the whole system fails.
Now, if we agree that universities can or should play a role in achieving sustainability, and we have a working definition, then all we need to do is state the parameters and get to work. But wouldn't you know it, those pesky parameters are tougher to define than we thought. You see, it's tough to draw a line in the sand and say this is right and this is wrong. The University is responsible for the campus, but what about the communities that surrounds it? What about the City that houses it? Does it have the right to buy up all the lands, monopolize all the social events, or even suck up all the community capital? Where does the responsibility fall?
at 3:07 PM