Yesterday Mayor Yule “trial ballooned” his plan to launch a formal exploration of environmental sustainability policies and initiatives for the Hastings district.

At a meeting with 50+ members of the public, plus other Hastings councillors (I noticed Heaps, Bowers, Burnside, Wilson and Turner), staff and MP Craig Foss, Yule said that the HDC had been remiss in addressing environmental issues, often facing them only in adversarial, reactive circumstances.

He said he wanted both to elevate the priority of sustainability issues and to find ways to introduce sustainability considerations into Council policymaking and program planning in a much more proactive way.

As several in the audience noted, the Mayor was preaching to the converted last evening. But my sense was that those attending, including many of the Bay’s most ardent and wary environmentalists, were clearly impressed by his candor and stated intentions.

As one might expect when putting 50 environmentalists in one room, a diversity of views were expressed regarding how the Mayor’s initiative might proceed and what its priorities should be. Some stressed public education and personal lifestyle issues; others focused on getting the right public policies in place. Some urged the Mayor to transform his initiative into one shared with the Regional and Napier Councils; others seemed content to start with a Hastings focus, as the Mayor proposed.

The Mayor indicated he would take the suggestions and discussion on board, with the intention of hosting a more formal, structured public forum in early February.

All in all a fairly auspicious launch of an extremely important initiative, for which we applaud the Mayor.

Mayor Yule stressed that he wants the process to yield action steps and decisions, not just talk. Now he’s let the genie out of the bottle … there’s no turning back!

Perhaps even the Hawke’s Bay Today, absent from last night’s discussion, will surprise us all and eventually join the party!

Tom

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