Building Resiliency in the Shuswap

In May, 2021 two presentations were given to local governments about a report that commissioned by SEAS, the Shuswap Family Resource and Referral Society and the Shuswap Food Action Co-op about how to build resiliency in the Shuswap post-pandemic. Here is the report – Shuswap Covid Resiliency Review 2021 Final_March

Here is the text of the presentation:

Resiliency Report presentation by Jim Cooperman, SEAS president: 

Good afternoon council members. Thank you for this opportunity to present our report to you. 

Most of you know me and the work I have done to help improve the public’s understanding of the Shuswap region and to improve protection of key values, including writing the first book about the geography and history of our region, Everything Shuswap. I am often asked when will the next volume be ready, and my answer is the like much of what we do and enjoy, the second volume is on hold due to the pandemic. Since very little is happening in volume two’s four topic areas; communities, arts and culture, sports and recreation and the economy – my thoughts turned to what we can do to make sure that once the pandemic is over, society and in particular, the Shuswap, can move to a better, more resilient place than where it was prior to the virus taking hold. Thus, I wrote a column last year about how new strategies are needed for recovery, because the pandemic further exposed many of the flaws in our society – including food insecurity, environmental threats, unhealthy lifestyles, and income inequality. I then realized that it would be good to find an expert to fully research the issues and potential solutions. 

Three groups, who work on community solutions, were invited to join the project, Shuswap Environmental Action Society, the Shuswap Family Resource and Referral Society and the Shuswap Food Action Co-op. Shuswap Community Futures agreed to fund the project and Natalya Melnychuck, who is highly qualified, was contracted to do the research and prepare the report which identifies the sustainability issues and reviews potential actions. Dr. Melnychuk reviewed approximately 100 articles, websites and publications for this project. 

She organized her work to focus on the same strategic drivers identified in Salmon Arm’s Strategic Plan. We decided to leave out arts and culture due to the time and financial constraints, and because there is a cultural master plan already in process. 

This presentation will focus on just the key points for each of the drivers and please note that the report is much more comprehensive as it contains far more information about the issues and possible actions. As well, the report recognizes the many City of Salmon Arm initiatives already underway that are already helping to find solutions, including the Food Hub, participation in the Community Resource Coalition, Agricultural Advisory Committee, Parks and Recreation, the Environmental Management Committee, and the Housing Taskforce. 

Many solutions fall outside the city’s jurisdiction and thus would require the city working with other municipalities to convince the provincial and/or federal governments to take action, likely through the Union of BC Municipalities. 

Beginning with people, the pandemic has increased the challenges for those who provide social services, as so many more people are experiencing problems. Anything the city could do to help improve services would help, such as improved advocacy. The city does have to ability to help promote healthy living and support harm prevention.

Food is a key asset and one that remains insecure, given we are surrounded by underutilized farmland. Improving food security would require much more collaboration and cooperation with the farming community and provincial government agencies. 

There are many obstacles to fixing the many forest mismanagement issues and the city would need to work with other groups and other jurisdictions through the UBCM to convince the provincial government to make any changes to the status-quo. 

The pandemic has elevated the importance of parks and trails, all used more often when inside facilities are closed, thus illustrating how investing in outdoor recreational infrastructure is a wise use of public funds. 

Regarding the many environmental issues, it is becoming more apparent every year that we need to put more effort into climate change adaptation measures to help ensure communities will be able to endure the coming impacts. 

There is likely nothing new for council regarding housing and transportation. Housing has become one of the greatest needs for most communities, as homes become more unaffordable and more people chose to move here. Addressing the problems successfully will require more innovation and the city could look more closely elsewhere to find solutions, including the Inside Track program used by Kamloops to attract developers. 

Where this report shines the greatest, is by bringing forth the concept of the doughnut economic model. This is indeed a viable concept that is being successfully implemented in other jurisdictions including Nanaimo. 

Key principles:

Everyone has a role – Focus on collaborative coalition-based initiatives, empower under-represented voices
Explore interconnections – Building resiliency requires involvement  of multiple partners, explore ways to avoid the “silo” approach for problem solving
Utilize existing plans while considering new ideas – Current projects can benefit by adding new concepts and strategies that focus on building resiliency

In conclusion, it would be wonderful to see this council move forward with this report and use it to develop an initiative focused on building greater resiliency to the community. One possibility would be to further investigate the doughnut economic model with the goal of adopting it for Salmon Arm.

We are facing complex problems that would best be addressed through collaboration and by using creative and imaginative processes that inspire greater interest by the public and all stakeholders, resulting in new ideas and new ways of thinking. Hopefully, with your support and vision, our resilience project will be the beginning of something much bigger and much more progressive than our community has produced to date. Thanks again for this opportunity.