BC Land Summit Society
Land Use Professionals Collaborate at BC Land Summits
In 2004, five land use-related associations - Planning Institute of BC, BC Association-Appraisal Institute of Canada, BC Institute of Agrologists, BC Society of Landscape Architects, Planning Institute of BC and Real Estate Institute of BC - combined their annual conferences to host the first BC Land Summit in Vancouver. "The idea of the Summit," explained David Crossley of the Planning Institute of BC, "was to create an event that would be broader and richer than any one organization could create alone." The interdisciplinary conference was a unique opportunity for land use professionals to collaborate, network, and share ideas with other experts working in various other land related fields. Aiming to facilitate a holistic approach to planning and land use, the BC Land Summit strengthened relationships between planners, real estate professionals, agrologists, appraisers, land trust organizations, landscape architects, lawyers and other professionals with ties to land. Due to the overwhelming success of the initial conference the organizations committed to a conference every five years.
The second Summit was held in Whistler in 2009 with a conference theme of "adapting to change." Mobile tours allowed conference participants to learn how Whistler - a community dealing with rapid development, a varied population and preparations for the Olympic Games - was approaching land use, responsibly and strategically. One walking tour explored Emerald Forest conservation area, part of Whistler's protected areas network. Whistler Housing Authority led a cycling tour, teaching participants about local housing policies and regulatory mechanisms to secure affordable housing options for residents. Taking advantage of the approaching Games, another tour explored the planning, design and development of the Olympic facilities, placing the venues in the context of the community and its elevation, climate and vegetation.
Another central element to the Summit was a series of sessions led by practitioners who shared their experiences about the latest trends, lessons, innovations and best practices in the field. The Powell River Sunshine Coast Real Estate Board gave one poster presentation about the process it underwent to educate the community about the protection and preservation of its drinking water. A panel discussion featuring representatives from the City of Langford discussed how that municipality overcame its poor reputation and became an award winning and progressive place to live, work, play and build. Since the workshops were developed and presented by practicing professionals from various disciplines, the Summit offered a diverse range of perspectives.
The Summit also featured keynote speakers who provided the practitioners with a global perspective. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. emphasized the need to change how North Americans consume carbon-based energy. By examining major socio-economic paradigm shifts that have occurred in American history, such as the abolition of slavery and the mass adoption of computer technologies, Kennedy asserted that achieving alternative energy solutions requires technology, market and legislative tools. Dr. Richard Hebda alerted the audience to the fact that humans are environmental gluttons. Echoing the idea of the "carbon footprint", Hebda urged people to consider their "ecological shadow" by evaluating the impact their behaviors have on the environment in terms of economic gain, such as driving a total of 8 km to rent a $3 DVD. The other keynote lectures delivered by Sherry Kafka Wagner and Thomas Berger also brought essential insights, tools, and solutions for stewarding into the future.
Planning is well underway for the next BC Land Summit, to be held in Vancouver in May 2014.
The Real Estate Foundation has been the major supporter of all three BC Land Summits. Our grants have been awarded under the Foundation's professional education mandate, and for each conference's potential to help advance sustainable land use in British Columbia.