Your chance to have a say in how we treat our natural environment is coming to a conference room near you.
In May 2007, the provincial Department of Natural Resources announced a three-year, three-phase project to "develop a new natural resources strategy that will govern future directions for Nova Scotia's forests, minerals, parks and biodiversity."
"We need to seriously weigh options and fully discuss the long-term ramifications of all the possible directions that government might take when it comes to management of our natural resources," says Natural Resources Minister David Morse.
The first phase of the project began with a call to voluntary planning, an arms-length agency of the government. They in turn called for volunteer board members in September. Public hearings got going across the province May 12. The plan is to complete 26 public meetings before June 12. The public hearings make a stop in the Halifax West-Clayton Park area June 9 at the Holiday Inn on Robie Street.
"It's too early to say there's any common thread," says volunteer planning project coordinator Rita Fraser. "We've been really pleased with the turnout. We've had about 1,000 participants in the first two weeks. I'm not really surprised because of the topic."
"We are hearing a range of interested parties from industry to community perspectives," Fraser says of the meetings so far. "We're hearing region-specific opinion along with local and broader presentations."
Phase Two of the project will be completed in 2009. Independent experts will meet and map out in great detail the results from the public consultations and the voluntary planning project committee report.
Phase Three will use all of the data and opinion gathered in the first two phases to come up with a long term plan for taking advantage of, but not destroying, our little piece of the planet. The final report and plan are due for publication before the end of 2010.
For now, the volunteer planning team are concentrating on making it easy for people to bring their thoughts to the table.
"It's a different process," Fraser says of the public meetings. "It's no traditional town hall. We meet in a dialogue circle to share views then break into smaller working groups, which report back to the whole."
If you can't make the public meetings there are other ways to make your thoughts heard. You can call volunteer planning; you can write a letter or an e-mail or make your submission online on the volunteer planning website.
Before you do that though you might want to contact VP for a copy of the "conversation starter." It's a handbook of information and guidance to help you be heard. It's available on their website and through the volunteer planning offices.
The deadline for submissions is July 31.
If you want your say or get a "conversation
Suite 600, 1690 Hollis Street
Halifax, N.S. B3J 3J9
- Phone: 902-424-8644 or 1-866-858-5850
- Fax: 902-424-0580
- Online: http://vp.gov.ns.ca/ and follow the links to Natural Resources Project
- E-mail: email@example.com