Principles for a Just Recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenging economic conditions around the world and here at home and has exacerbated the impacts of socio-economic inequality already present in our society. This crisis is also occurring on top of another crisis: the climate emergency. These issues are deeply intertwined and cannot be addressed in isolation. 

 

Our community has demonstrated inspiring resilience in the face of COVID-19: small businesses pivoted to takeout and delivery, individuals sewed PPE for healthcare workers, and local mutual aid networks sprung up to support those most in need. We also saw rapid action to create temporary housing for the homeless and make public transit free. At the same time, though, it has become clear how fragile our local economy is and how difficult the coming months will be for local businesses and many Squamish residents. Forming a response to COVID-19 is an opportunity for us as individuals, businesses, organizations, and municipal governments to address existing vulnerabilities in our community and take holistic steps towards building a resilient and caring Squamish that we can all be proud of.

 

We are at an inflection point. Local, provincial, and federal governments are working to develop recovery plans to address the challenges that the COVID-19 crisis has created and exacerbated. As the District of Squamish develops its own recovery plan, we have an opportunity to build back better: to create a community that is resilient to systemic shock, that empowers citizens to thrive rather than survive, and that is compatible with a low-carbon future. Cities like Victoria, Amsterdam, and others are leading the way in building just and sustainable recovery plans and we believe Squamish should join them.

 

The actions we take in recovering from COVID-19 will shape the course of the next decade. The next 3 years in particular are critical for global efforts to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. At this important turning point, we must operate from a paradigm that puts holistic well-being of people and the planet first. To that end, we endorse the following guiding principles for COVID-19 recovery policies: 

  1. People first: Economic growth is a tool, not a goal. Development efforts should focus on enabling our community to thrive, meeting the needs of all while protecting the needs of future generations.

  2. System interdependence: Recognize that economic, societal, and planetary welfare are intertwined and that each cannot be approached independently. Municipal efforts must approach each issue with a holistic lens and include the appropriate stakeholders.

  3. Inclusivity: Recovery plans must recognize and prioritize groups that are marginalized in today’s society and work toward a caring and inclusive community. To facilitate this, these groups must be included in the planning process.

  4. Resilience: Prioritize a local, circular economy; strengthen food, water, and housing security; and support renewable, decentralized energy production.

  5. Empowerment: A just and caring community requires just and caring community members; we cannot build a resilient Squamish without empowering the community to be a part of that process.

To support these principles, we ask that the District of Squamish carefully consider the following questions when making decisions about recovery:

 

  1. What is recovery? And who should be involved in planning it?

  2. "Normal" was a crisis for much of our community. What pre-existing conditions in Squamish were exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic? How have we failed in planning and prioritizing resources in the past? And how can we learn from that to recover in a way that avoids rebuilding and reinforcing existing patterns of marginalization and oppression?

  3. How can recovery enable our community to thrive while simultaneously building respect for the health of the planet and the wellbeing of people worldwide?

We are privileged to live and work on the unceded territory of the Squamish Nation. Any efforts towards a Just Recovery must prioritize both respect and Indigenous sovereignty.
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