Our culture is nature?
This slogan now appears on most of our Ville’s official communications. You’ll see it, as well, on the cover of the 2019 – 2023 strategic plan. Like many residents and citizens, I ask myself just what this message means. It seems hard to endorse without further explanation.
My first reaction is to tell myself that we are extremely privileged to live in this natural environment, replete with beauty and diversity, all year round. My second reaction is to ask myself if nature really is our culture.
Shouldn’t it be, instead, the members of our community, our moral standards and ways of doing things, our language and our history which constitute our Mont- Tremblant culture? I understand the reference perfectly well. Having said that, is it really an element that identifies and differentiates us? There are exceptional natural environments in many parts of Québec, Canada and the planet.
No doubt the slogan means that we should do all we can to take advantage of this beautiful nature and in particular, to protect it. At least, that’s what I hope it means.
Principles of the sustainable development of a community
Other questions arise. Are we, for example, on the right path of sustainable development which will guarantee economic growth to benefit everyone, while protecting this inestimable treasure for future generations? What would be the perfect recipe that would allow development and significant economic growth without squandering this extraordinary benefit which is also indispensable to our survival?
In Québec’s legislation related to sustainable development, there is the following definition: “Sustainable development is development that meets present needs without compromising the capacity of future generations to meet their needs. It is based on a long term vision which takes into account the inseparable dimensions of environmental, social and economic development activities”.
I would add to this definition “cultural and historic” dimensions.
The fundamental principles
The people who visit us or who settle here do so for our exceptional quality of life. We must, therefore, remind ourselves of some fundamental principles of sustainable development.
- We all have the right to a productive, healthy life which transpires in harmony with nature.
- The development of today must in no way erode the economic, social and environmental needs of future generations.
- Sustainable development and the protection of our natural assets (physical, visual, olfactory, auditory) must be an integral part of the development process.
- Sustainable development guarantees the same quality of life for all, independent of social and economic disparities. We must consider and ensure this fairness.
- All concerns related to sustainable development must be shared and managed with the full involvement of all citizens and not in a vacuum.
Some current, down-to-earth concerns
Lastly, and in view of these fundamental principles, we have to question ourselves about some of our current practices. We must, as citizens, parents and grandparents, stand up and speak publicly about our potential concerns to assure ourselves that all our natural, social and cultural assets are preserved for our future generations.
Our plan d’urbanisme – town planning document – dates back almost 20 years. Is it time to revisit it to make sure that it still responds to our aspirations as a community? I would also like to emphasize that our town planning document cannot and must not be considered our business plan…although that’s what’s currently happening.
Are our processes for minor variations and zoning changes tools that permit and guarantee sustainable development? Do we need new tools? Do our current communication and public consultation processes really reflect the desire of our citizens? Does our plan for the protection of lakes and rivers guarantee that these natural treasures will be preserved and still intact in 10, 30 or 50 years?
A very small minority of our visitors are currently showing a clear lack of respect for our rivers, our shores, and the people who live close to them. The damage can be permanent…irreversible. How can we better protect these assets? What role can we play as citizens, elected representatives, managers, workers and contractors to ensure the protection of and respect for our rivers, lakes and natural spaces?
“Our culture is nature”. Okay, but are we on the right path?
More from this author by clicking on his picture below.
Michel Savard14 Posts
Doyen d’une des grandes écoles hôtelières anglophone canadienne et propriétaire hôtelier avec son épouse Sharon à Mont-Tremblant pendant plus de vingt ans, Michel prend, depuis sa retraite, le temps d’écouter et de conseiller les citoyens de Mont-Tremblant sur divers sujets. Il adresse certaines de leurs doléances au conseil municipal afin que leurs voix soient entendues. Articulé, calme et posé, Michel est toujours extrêmement bien documenté et représente un atout nécessaire à l’exercice d’une démocratie saine au sein de notre communauté. Dean of one of the great Canadian, English-language hotel schools and a hotel owner with his wife Sharon in Mont-Tremblant for more than twenty years, Michel has had, since his retirement, the time to listen to and advise the people of Mont-Tremblant on a variety of subjects. He takes some of their complaints and grievances to the municipal council so that their voices will be heard. Articulate, calm and poised, Michel always has full documentation and represents a much-needed asset in support of the healthy exercise of democracy in our community.