The City of Nanaimo has a strategic vision and other guidance documents, but from now on, all decisions must be made in a “donut” economy.
City council, at a special meeting on Monday, voted 5-4 in favor of the council. Ben Geselbracht’s motion to adopt the donut business model “as a coherent vision for all city planning initiatives and processes”.
Geselbracht posted on social media that Nanaimo is the first Canadian city to embrace the donut economy as a vision and framework.
The donut model, according to a report by city staff, challenges economies to meet and exceed “minimum global living standards” and fairness, while “avoiding overstepping our ecological limits.” The idea is that the donut represents the perfect place – “the safe and fair space for humanity” between a social foundation on the inner edge of the donut and an ecological ceiling on the outer edge. Geselbracht’s motion calls for the creation of a “city portrait”, with measurable social and environmental indicators and targets so that the city can monitor its progress.
The staff report did not include recommendations, but did mention a few different ways for staff to incorporate the donut framework into the board’s strategic plan, the Reimagine Nanaimo planning process, and the environment committee’s work plan. .
“The economy of donuts makes it possible to understand very clearly what the relationship is [with] the environment and what we need to do to live within the means of the planet, as well as the basic foundation that we need to bring together as a community to provide health and well-being to our citizens, ”said Geselbracht.
The concept had previously been discussed at a meeting on governance and city priorities, but councilors remained divided.
“I know some people are very strongly in favor of it, some people think it’s meaningless drivel. Everyone has their opinion, ”said Coun. Ian Thorpe.
He said the donut model was lopsided and emphasized environmental concerns, and said it would be best suited as a guiding principle for the work of the environment committee, not for all decision-making in the community. city.
“Although it’s called an economic model, it seems to have nothing to do with the economics of GDP and that’s my main concern…” Thorpe said. “It’s, from what I’ve read, a very leftist philosophy that basically says business is bad, growth is bad, development is bad, we want to focus only on social and environmental priorities. . Well, I’m all for environmental responsibility, but I think there has to be a balance.
Com. Tyler Brown refuted, saying it is clear that the actions of humans are not in balance with the Earth.
“So to dispute that and say that this model is out of balance, I would say that is completely incorrect because the current model is out of balance,” Brown said.
He added that he thinks people want leadership from city council to set a vision “in many different areas” and said that is what the donut business model can do.
Com. Sheryl Armstrong said she heard city planners suggest the city of Nanaimo should consider another model of sustainable development, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). She noted that Victoria, Saanich and Vancouver are members of ICLEI and said it was a proven model that would meet Nanaimo’s needs and be accompanied by support, and wondered why the rather, the city would choose a model that no other Canadian city has adopted.
“Because we like to be different, because we like to be leaders and just because nobody else is doing it in Canada doesn’t mean it’s not the right framework and the right approach,” said Coun. . Zeni Maartman.
Mayor Leonard Krog was most concerned with the process, saying council should wait for a staff report on how the strategic plan could be changed to incorporate the donut economic framework.
“We are in the middle of the Reimagine Nanaimo process which involves a lot more people than people sitting around this board table and I think it’s appropriate that it be referred accordingly,” Krog said.
However, the board voted against returning the donut model to the economic development task force, preferring an immediate vote. Geselbracht suggested that council members who disagreed with his position had not done enough research, and Coun. Erin Hemmens pointed out that staff have indicated that the donut model could fit into existing countertops.
“The problem is, we have limited resources to take care of everyone on Earth…” she said. “Here is a template we could use to break down this huge and complex question that we are grappling with.”
The motion to adopt the donut business model as a cohesive vision for all city planning and initiatives was passed 5-4 with Krog, Thorpe, Armstrong and Coun. Jim Turley opposed it.