The Blue Mountains Future Story

Jeffery Fletcher, Manager of Sustainability and Solid Waste
Nicholas Cloet, Sustainability Coordinator

The Town of The Blue Mountains is creating a Community Sustainability Plan to help guide the Town and its residents, workers and visitors towards a sustainable future. Sustainability is about protecting our natural resources and making sure that our community gives residents a chance to live healthy, prosperous and rewarding lives.

The project to develop the Plan is called The Blue Mountains Future Story, and it has included five ‘themes’ of sustainability: Built Environment, Natural Environment, Arts & Culture, Community Life (Social Sustainability), and Economy. The Future Story project has also referred to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for inspiration, as another way for community members to think about the many different and vital dimensions of sustainability.

The Future Story project is being undertaken in three phases:

  • Phase 1: Community Situational Assessment resulted in the creation of a Current State Report in April, 2021, which details some of the local context and community perspectives around current strengths, challenges and tensions in The Blue Mountains, and also provides some examples of best practices from other jurisdictions.
  • Currently in Phase 2: Visioning and Objectives, we are aiming to develop a long-term vision for sustainability in The Blue Mountains. Another way of thinking about this is to ask: what will our ideal community look like in 50 years?
  • Phase 3: Action Planning, beginning later this fall, will look at identifying the specific actions that we need to take in the near term (i.e. 5-10 years from now) to move us towards our long-term vision and address local challenges/tensions. The final Community Sustainability Plan will be finalized in the spring or summer of 2022.

A Community Sustainability Plan is a document that guides decision making and provides a framework to track results. It’s a plan that is developed with community input, to ensure it has the best chances for success. A sustainability plan will highlight specific goals, which then can be reported back to the community. As a community-scope plan, implementation will rely not only on Town-led planning and strategic initiatives, but also on community engagement and ownership of certain actions, regional partnerships, and other enabling factors (such as funding from senior levels of government) to enable actions that would otherwise fall outside of the Town’s jurisdiction as a municipality.

The Community Sustainability Plan will serve as a foundational plan that will provide an additional lens to help develop and influence future Strategic Plans, reviews of the Official Plan, as well as other Town plans, strategies, and projects as appropriate. The completion of the Future Story project in 2022 will provide evidence of the community’s sustainability-related priorities, which will help to influence updates to the Town’s Official Plan. Town staff across various departments are engaged in the planning process, and will be well-placed to bring a sustainability perspective to their work on future Town initiatives.