Navigating the Ecological Network Survey

The City of Richmond’s “Ecological Network Survey” is open until Friday, September 26, 2014. It is a supposed to be an important consultation step. If you’re thinking of taking part, here are a few points to be aware of:

  1. Ecological Network Management-StrategyAs shown at right, there is an easy-to-miss “Sign in” link. (It’s on the right side of the green bar at the beginning, just above the Search box.) If you sign in when you start, it may save you an awkward sign-in step at the end.
  2. There are questions where it’s probably best to select all the answers, rather than get drawn into false distinctions. That applies to questions 2 and 3. In question 2, for instance, clean air, water and soil are at a more basic level than the other answers and therefore not really comparable with them.
  3. For at least question 5, I felt it was best to pick out just one most important goal, “Engage through stewardship and collaboration.” That way the planners can report back to council that the citizens clearly want stewardship and collaboration.
  4. The survey seems designed to funnel respondents into volunteer work as stewardship. In practical reality, that is usually done by citizens in groups, not working individually with the City of Richmond. If you want to volunteer through the survey as an individual, that’s fine, but don’t feel bad about preferring to act for ecological stewardship through groups like the Richmond Nature Park Society or Garden City Conservation Society.
  5. For whatever reason, the survey is supposedly anonymous.

In case anyone wishes to refer to it, this article has an appendix that consists of some of my responses to the survey and my reactions to it. I am sharing it to provide insight, and my responses are NOT model answers to copy.

APPENDIX — one response to Ecological Network survey

Survey question 2. The aspects of natural areas that I value the most are:

The question mixes in clean water, clean air and clean soil, but they are basic to everything else, so I chose all the answers. I also added an “Other. I wrote “Physical, social and spiritual wellbeing. Wellness goes beyond health.” One reason I included it is that those three kinds of wellness are emphasized in the City’s 2022 Parks and Open Space Strategy, which council adopted less than a year ago (Oct. 15, 2013). I agree with that strategy’s distinction between wellbeing (or wellness) and health, which typically places the emphasis on treating illness and injury and working toward the absence of them. I think the City’s strategies need to be more consistent with each other.

Survey question 3. The issues I feel are affecting Richmond’s natural areas are [choose all that apply]:

I chose all the issues and also “Other.” For “Other” I wrote this: “Critical mass of BS from the powers that be. For example, the section of the Alderbridge wildlife corridor from No. 4 Road west to Garden City Road had always been protected as ESA and was also protected the West Cambie Natural Park, the greenway, and the residential zoning. Every protection was simply removed in order to eliminate life on more than half of it, with the rest to follow.”

Survey question 4. The prompt for a text box is this: “The following is what I think the City can do to address the challenges to natural areas in Richmond.”

I wrote this: “Instead of planning ad infinitum, actually be committed and act accordingly. Not very long ago, the City endorsed the Parks and Open Space Strategy. That strategy referred to related strategies such as The Richmond Trails Strategy and ESA Management Strategy. Instead of adding more strategies, perhaps the City could come up with one page of action steps it will actually take to make a difference.

Survey question 5. The City’s Ecological Network Management Strategy is supported by four goals to guide the management of Richmond’s natural environment. The goals I think are the most important are to: [check all that apply].

I chose just one: “Engage through stewardship and collaboration.” Like almost everyone, I agree with the others, but I agree with what the survey sponsors already must know, since the rest of the questions are about environmental stewardship.

Survey question 6A. The types of environmental stewardship I would be interested in include [choose all that apply].

I chose “Wildlife habitat restoration” and “Other.” Oddly, that did not trigger a textbox in which I could describe my “Other.”

Survey question 6B. My motivation to participate in environmental stewardship initiatives would be: [choose all that apply].

One of my answers was “Other,” and that did trigger a textbox, where I wrote this: “To lead the world. This is not a goal in itself, but it is an effect that would occur if the City of Richmond were not squandering its opportunities.”

Survey question 7. The types of environmental stewardship initiatives I would like to see in my neighbourhood are:

“In my immediate neighbourhood, I would like the city to stop encouraging demolitions that enable gardens to be paved. A little further afield, citizens have contributed literally thousands of hours toward the environmental stewardship of the Garden City Lands and related matters, but a large part of that is wasted because the City of Richmond has deliberately wasted it, and I would like to see citizen values replacing City waste.”

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