This week brought a fantastic meeting on regional planning with participants from all over the province, the country, and the world.
Collaboration has been one of the principles of the work of the WMR since its inception in 1998. Today, we are not only collaborating as communities to develop the first Winnipeg Metro Region Land Use Plan—Plan20-50—but we are collaborating with experts from across Canada and the globe to ensure that we are rigorous, thorough, and disciplined in our approach to Plan20-50.
We at the WMR were pleased to have two very special guests join us in the meeting: the Honorable Derek Johnson, Minister of Municipal Relations, and the Deputy Consol General of the Netherlands, Jorn Leeksma, along with two of his colleagues: Marjan Lahuis, Senior Advisor Economic Affairs, and Virginie de Visscher, Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Manitoba.
We also had presentations by the consulting firms—Metabolic, Strategic Community Consulting (SCC), PRIME Strategy & Planning and NIXA. They each provided a brief overview and introduction to the work they are doing on Plan20-50 and the development of a resiliency data portal and platform to ensure the Winnipeg Metro Region can predict, mitigate, and plan for the risks associated with a changing climate.
Plan20-50 sits firmly on a foundation of data and it seeks to ensure that it incorporates best practices from across the globe to deliver on the outcomes that our local leaders have prioritized.
This meeting demonstrated that we are following the priorities as outlined by our leadership at the local and provincial level, as well as priority areas identified from the over 400 stakeholders from across sectors consulted on Plan20-50.
This plan requires us to look farther on the horizon and ensure we are creating the conditions for our communities, our region, and our province to be strong, prosperous, and sustainable.
What 2020 has demonstrated is that we must be ready to respond to situations that we could have not even imagined.
Over past few years as a member of the Winnipeg Metro Region, I have seen local leaders build the foundation to move our region forward:
- We have commissioned experts to help us analyze where we are relative to the rest of the world.
- We have gathered the necessary data to help us measure our efforts.
- We have reached out to embrace the best practices for our challenges.
- We have listened to our communities, consulted with experts, and challenged ourselves to integrate our learnings.
As a result, we believe that Plan20-50 will be an active road map—truly for the benefit of all.
It will be fair and equitable to each municipality while remaining grounded in the ultimate measurement of success: our regional economy.
Minister Derek Johnson
We were so thrilled to welcome Derek Johnson, Minister of Municipal Relations, to the meeting this week, and are especially appreciative that he was able to join during such a busy week—having just sworn into his newly appointed role only days before.
We are pleased to have the support of the provincial government on Plan20-50. We know that working together is not always easy, and we look forward to continuing to work with our government to provide a table for these regional conversations to turn planning into action.
I had the opportunity to attend a resiliency mission to the Netherlands a few years back and got a first-hand look at the important leading work that is collaboratively happening on water, waste, and climate, as well as the partnerships between governments, industry, agencies, and universities that allow the Netherlands to lead the way.
Over the past few years, I have been able to meet with Deputy Consol General Leeksma and discuss the work of the mayors and reeves and look for opportunities for partnerships with the Netherlands.
It was a great pleasure to have Jorn and his colleagues with us (virtually) to kick off this important partnership.
As our lead strategic planner on Plan20-50, Lisa Prime of PRIME Strategy & Planning provided some additional information.
Plan20-50 has three transformative moves:
1. Creating a regional structure that will allow us to apply policy differently across the region to respect the unique character of all of your communities, while creating a greater connection.
2. Integrated planning, which calls us to think about the design of our communities, jobs for residents, transportation corridors, housing, access to fresh water services, while keeping an eye on quality of life benefits at the community level.
3. Access to regional data—during the meeting, we discussed data and the work of the team around this transformative move.
It was a great pleasure to include the team from Metabolic HQ, who have joined our Plan20-50 team. They will be reviewing the plan to ensure its policy reflects global best practice on water, waste, circular economy, and building the necessary resiliency to ensure we are ready for anticipated changes in climate and the economy.
Along with policy review, Metabolic will lead a series of workshops for the mayors, reeves, and chiefs along with administrators and staff to understand what the trends are in managing waste, water, and community design with the principles of resilience and circular economy.
Strategic Community Consulting (SCC)
Strategic Community Consulting is a professional engineering and consulting firm that works with communities on identifying integrated solutions, cleantech solutions, and cleantech R&D in the areas of water, waste, and climate.
SCC will be part of the team that is peer reviewing Plan20-50 to ensure it anticipates and accounts for a changing hydrological cycle and the impacts expected from a changing climate. They will also be part of the team that will be working on a digital climate risk tool for the region, focusing on flooding and drought.
SCC will model and geo-visualize flood and drought stress in river basins within the WMR using RCP4.5 and 8.5 PCIC climate scenario data, a HEC-HMS hydrologic model. LiDAR and 3D visualization will be used to geo-visualize elevated flood risk within the WMR, and the elevated frequency and duration of drought risk to municipalities in the WMR.
This study component will provide a concise example of how Plan20-50 coheres with holistic and integrated watershed development and how the plan can ensure we are ready for the investments needed to keep us competitive—in fact, we may benefit from a changing climate if we are prepared.
Lastly, we welcomed to our meeting Marc Adam from Nixa. Nixa is firm specializing in computer programming and web development based in Montreal, Quebec.
Nixa is building data platform for the Winnipeg Metropolitan Region website, allowing us to share regional data and provide tools and information to constituents and decision makers on regional issues, in addition to creating a national/international presence online.
Nixa’s web platform will be the central location that will host the work of SCC on climate risk, as well as showcase features on other important regional topics and serve key data from Plan20-50 for planners, economic development officers, and elected leaders to incorporate into their processes to facilitate decision making that aligns with regional objectives.
To sum it all up…
As you can see, we have incredible experts supporting the efforts of the WMR team as we put together what we believe will be the foundation for addressing the regional data gap. The need to gather and share data at a regional level is one of the three transformative moves identified in Plan20-50.
With this expert team, we are ensuring that Plan20-50 is leaving nothing to chance.
I want to thank Minister Johnson, Jorn Leeksma and his colleagues, and all the consultants for joining us for this exciting meeting. We will continue to work with each of them on Plan20-50 as we believe we have a team that can deliver on the vision of leadership.
As we begin to dig our way out after the COVID pandemic and find our footing as a province, a country, and as a global community, partnerships between countries and the sharing of best practice across jurisdictions offers us an important way forward.
Plan20-50 reflects the fact that we’re strongest when municipalities work together. Regional collaboration will strengthen our post-pandemic economic recovery and will let us harness future opportunities that create jobs, attract investments, and