Imagine what a “sustainable” Thurston Region would look like in 2035?
If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably picturing more folks walking, biking or riding the bus to get to jobs, schools, shops and other places. Indeed, a new sustainability plan, crafted as part the Thurston Regional Planning Council’s Sustainable Thurston partnership project, contends that such forms of “active” transportation would help us stay fit, save money and protect the planet.
The draft plan, called Creating Places—Preserving Spaces, shows that transportation is but one piece of a complex puzzle that includes land use, housing, energy, climate change, food systems and other interconnected issues. The plan fits the pieces together with a comprehensive vision, sets priority goals and targets, and recommends actions for the public- and private-sector partners.
Goals and actions that conclude each of the six core chapters show us how to achieve our sustainability vision, who must be involved and when:
Actions that conclude the Economy chapter would coordinate economic development efforts, foster industry clusters, and diversify the region’s employment base. Changing how we use land would be good for business, too. Actions that conclude the Community chapter would create vital city and town centers that attract the artists, entrepreneurs, and other members of the creative class, as well as increase active transportation and affordable and accessible housing choices in close-in neighborhoods. Additional actions would transition auto-oriented transit corridors into a more walkable urban form and preserve rural lifestyles in the countryside.
Actions in the Opportunities and Choices chapter would create “complete” communities by tying together some of the aforementioned transportation, housing, and economic development issues with health and human services, local food systems, and access to schools. Such communities have efficient and equitable access to healthy food, quality schools, parks, and other opportunities.
Actions in the Investment chapter would maximize the use of existing public infrastructure and assets and prioritize and leverage future investments. Municipalities would deliver water, sewer, solid waste, public safety, transportation, and communications services in a more cost-effective manner and champion energy efficiency and renewable energy strategies that bolster energy independence and economic stability. The Environment chapter builds upon these actions to improve local air and water quality and mitigate global climate change.
The Leadership & Participation chapter ties the core chapters together and underscores the maxim “think regionally — act locally.” The chapter lists the first action steps we must take to achieve our priority goals and hit our sustainability targets. Such steps include prioritizing and protecting farms, forests and other lands facing development pressure, as well as drafting comprehensive climate action, water, and food systems plans.
Success will require sustained and widespread commitment. At the household level, this means individuals integrating sustainability actions into their life and influencing neighbors (here’s a pat on the back of all you veteran vanpoolers and bus riders!!). At the government level, it means municipalities integrating sustainability actions into their comprehensive plan and coordinating regionally with organizations such as Intercity Transit.
There’s much to read and consider in the 200-page plan, and the Thurston Regional Planning Council wants to know what you think. Here are three ways to weigh in:
Take a short spin through the plan and provide input by completing this survey.
Join a community conversation on www.EngageSustainableThurston.org.
E-mail TRPC at SustainableThurston@trpc.org
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