SECS rebirth looms 

Board of environmental group to resign, decentralized model considered

Sometimes it seems like everything's changing. Your waistline. Your savings account. Your viewscape. Your dog. They say any fixed point is the centre of the universe; so if anything stays still long enough, it has to suffer the attention of everything else. Change, then, is inevitable.

Add to the list a local green group. The Squamish Environmental Conservation Society (SECS) is undergoing huge change just a few months after electing its board and re-electing Catherine Jackson as president.

"We've had a series of internal meetings in the past couple months where we've been (going) through some issue on how we reach consensus and how we put our issues out to the public," said Jackson. "So it's something we've been working on anyway, but we've come to more of an official awareness so we all know what we're working on."

The board and its president will tender their resignations on Feb. 12 during a public meeting at the Brackendale Art Gallery. Nominations are currently being accepted for new board members, including Jackson's position.

"We've also been looking at our society and wondering what direction to take in the future in the reflection of the change and movement in Squamish in terms of population changes, new people moving to town and new pressures we're experiencing in the community," said Jackson. "So we're looking forward to developing, evolving and cleaning our society and meeting the needs of people who have environmental interests in the community. We really see it as a process of creativity."

The group is looking at a decentralized model. While there will still be a president there could also be a host of subcommittees, with those members exploring different issues, both broad and specific, whether green building standards or green spaces, climate change or energy efficiency, ecosystems or transit.

Under those same decentralized principles, if a consensus can't be reached with the board and president, then members can go to the public and express their individual views. However, if a consensus is reached, then a singular public face should be put forward.

There's also potential to change the organization's role. Typically, SECS has an identity steeped in advocacy and watchdogging. Jackson said some members see an expanded role, one that involves workshops, for example, or other forms of interaction.

The changes, said Jackson, are something a lot of environmental groups are undergoing.

"There's definitely a larger focus with climate change issues," she said. "And also a reflection of them, especially in Squamish with our new highway and what's happening here in terms of development. Even though the economy has taken a nosedive, there's still pressure here. And our community is still evolving very much in a practical sense. We should really be highlighting the green side of what that looks like. We have a lot of opportunity here to get it right in terms of sustainable living and maintaining the green space we all appreciate."


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