Community resilience: the ability for communities to make decisions for themselves

MLA Norm Macdonald talks about tough times and resilient communities.

As a former mayor, I fully understand the value of living in a resilient community as a measure against tough times.

A resilient community is one that is able to take intentional action to improve both the personal and collective capacity of its residents and its organizations to respond positively in times of threat.

Resilient communities are characterized as having residents who are educated, proud and self-reliant, organizations that work together, adequate resources wisely used and high levels of participation in democratic and community processes.

We are living in an era of climate change.

Climate change, despite our efforts to curb it, will have irreversible effects; effects as wide-ranging as glacier melt or disruptions to our food distribution system.

While it seems that such big challenges can only be faced on a national or global level, I believe that we also have the opportunity to adapt to the challenges that climate change will bring by building resilient communities.

Resiliency is developed by ensuring communities have strong economic, social and infrastructure systems.

But the greatest factor in community resilience is the ability for communities to make decisions for themselves.

When I first entered politics, I did so with the belief that the wisdom to make the best decisions sits within the communities that are most affected.

And I believe that politicians have a responsibility to empower those they serve.

Over the last ten years, the provincial government has consistently removed power and resources from local communities and centralized decision-making in the Premier’s Office.

This has led to uninformed decisions with serious consequences for rural residents.

Whether it is decisions about healthcare, education or land-use, we know far better than the Premier what makes sense for our community.

We need to choose a government that understands and supports the power of community.  And we need to take personal responsibility for making sure that our community is able to weather adversity.

I encourage you to get involved in a community organization, serve on a non-profit board, or simply get to know your neighbours.

Working together, and using our collective wisdom, we can build a healthy, vital community that is best positioned to improve quality of life for all its residents.