What does our water system look like twenty-five years from now? That’s the big picture under discussion at WaterCity, as citizens imagine water’s role in the region in the future. Community events like this give a voice to individuals and foster dialogue, but how do cities best use this information to plan?
Imagining Our Region in 25 Years
In Vancouver a group of citizens met to imagine water’s role in the region 25 years in the future, in an innovative scenario-planning event.
“This is WaterCity event number three of a series of 4 that are happening this year,” explains Fraser Mah, a facilitation team leader for Waterlution – a Canadian not-for-profit organization that looks to build dialogue around what our relationship is to water. “For this event we’ve put together some predictions that other people have made for what the future could look like on a global and local scale.”
Citizens Having an Impact
Vancouver city councillor Andrea Reimer says the process helps citizens feel they can make a positive impact.
“I think in terms of water, the idea of bringing people together to learn about something like municipal, regional, provincial, and federal jurisdiction and how they overlap; I think it puts them in a much stronger position to feel like they are offering solutions that actually might work in the context of that system.”
WaterCity’s facilitators guided participants to imagine future scenarios for water functions such as supply, demand, and ecosystems.
“We’ll be putting together something for decision makers and for anyone who’s interested that will be available on online… to look at and just get a pulse for people are thinking about,” explains Mah.
Conversations Bring New Perspectives
“When we get people together from different sectors and backgrounds we can really come together and understand what other people are thinking,” says Tina Barisky, a facilitator with WaterCity. ” So I’m really excited to come home with a new perspective.
“This exercise is actually a kind of a citizenship muscle flexing,” says Chris Corrigan of Harvest Moon Consulting. “It allows for people to get used to having these kinds of conversations. The role that local governments can play is to actually pay attention to what these folks are saying, because the meaning making that happens, here the thinking about the future, the ability to detect emerging trends before they hit the mainstream, that can all happen when citizens engage in dialogue like this.