Tuesday I brought forward a motion that "staff investigates a 'No New Water' commitment that would explore the potential of meeting all new water demands through the efficient use of existing supplies"
The intent is to stimulate constructive dialogue around water-related issues and to motivate creative solutions and sustainable behaviour; to shift the focus of meeting water demand away from expensive, expansive and ecologically damaging physical infrastructure toward significantly increased water productivity.
According to the OECD, Canada uses more water per capita than 27 of 29 developed countries and 65 per cent more water than 27 other developed countries. Squamish's water consumption per capita is significantly higher than the Canadian average. The bottom linewe must do better.
As intended, there is no direction in the motion to overtly prescribe various measures such as watermetering, leak detection, water audits, toilet retrofit programs and rebates for aerated faucets and low flow shower heads or to encourage bylaws and building and plumbing codes to mandate water-saving appliances and infrastructure.
Nor to implement and advance conservation-based pricing strategies, rainwater collection, wastewater reclamation, water recycling, water sensitive urban design and education, out reach and community-based social marketing programs that instill a new water ethic.
All of the above measures are proven to reduce water consumption and it will take a comprehensive strategy that includes some or all of these to achieve our goal.
Other communities are already capitalizing on conservation as the best source of new water that ultimately saves money, reduces our carbon footprint, preserves aquatic ecosystem health and ensures lasting water security.
During the same meeting Tuesday, we had a delegation from the Squamish Nation.
I was filled with conflict upon receiving this proposal. It was incredibly heartwarming to see a new respect and reconciliation so painfully absent from our shared history until recently; that a delegation from Squamish Nation was in our chambers (as we have been invited to theirs) pursuing opportunity and security for their community.
But it was heartbreaking for me to see the proposal in front of us; a huge digital billboard on the highway in front of the iconic Stawamus Chief.
Now I am the first to acknowledge that our track record is less than perfect, but I'm also proud of some of our achievements, including resisting the very real temptation to pepper our landscape with corporate billboards.
It was also discouraging to hear the frustration of the Squamish Nation at not being able to create viable economic development opportunities on reserve lands because of their fractured geography and limited land use.
And perhaps what was most disheartening was that our new relationship with Squamish Nation does not include a shared vision of our community, an imperative we have all failed cultivate, myself included.
I'm not sure of the fate of the billboard at Totem Hall; it was presented to council as a fait accompli. My sincere hope is that we can work creatively and collaboratively in the future to stimulate economic drivers for the Squamish Nations so that the result is the culmination of a shared vision and prosperity and not a last resort.