City of Sioux Falls looks for community feedback to update the Sustainability Master Plan Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The City of Sioux Falls has provided five ways that the community can engage in the updating of the Sustainability Master Plan.

Holly Meier, Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Sioux Falls, said that with all of their city plans, they have a public engagement period because it is important for them to hear from the community so their plans as a city are community driven, especially when it comes to sustainability.

“Everybody is impacted by sustainability, either directly or indirectly,” Meier said. “Increasingly, in years to come and so when we are thinking about a sustainability plan, we want to make sure that we are including community members needs and concerns and ideas and vision for what a more sustainable Sioux Falls will look like.”

Meier said they have some ideas internally, but they want to make sure they are capturing the ingenuity and ideas of the public as they develop this plan. This not only helps understand what the community needs, but it also helps to build awareness for sustainability efforts and how important it is to the city of Sioux Falls.

According to the city’s website, “the plan will focus on sustainability in these aspects of our community: Natural Systems, Transportation and Land Use, Energy and Buildings, Community Vitality and Sustainable Living, Sustainable Economy, and Materials Management and Waste. It will also prioritize social equity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Meier said they plan to keep a similar frame work and structure in the new plan as they had in their 2012 Sustainability Master Plan.

With this plan, it is really important to the Steering Committee and the city to be prioritizing equity and equitable opportunities and activities for everybody in the community, Meier said.

“Equity will be sort of a cross-cutting piece throughout our plan,” Meier said.

The city is facing big sustainability challenges, the website says. These challenges include limited resources, climate change, threats to ecosystems and biodiversity, pollution and waste and public heath concerns.

Looking into the future, the city predicts that precipitation extremes, higher temperatures, decreased air and water quality, increased likelihood of natural disasters and increased flooding risks are challenges the community may face.

“Developing a sustainability plan is a key step to addressing these challenges,” the website says.

They are looking to the community for help with this effort. The five ways the city provides for people to engage include:

  1. Take the ten minute survey, that also includes a chance to win a $250 Visa gift card.
  2. Students in grades 11 and 12 can write an essay for a chance to win a $250 scholarship.
  3. Students in grade 6 through 12 can enter the art contest for a chance to win a sustainability prize pack.
  4. You can tell the city your vision for a sustainable Sioux Falls on their website.
  5. Used #SustainableSiouxFalls on Facebook and Twitter to say what your sustainable Sioux Falls looks like.

These engagement areas are opened from April 1 to April 30, which coincides with Earth Month.

As a city, Meier said they are really excited to be offering their student sustainability contests; this is something new they have added.

The prompt for the scholarship essay has student’s envisioning the year 2040 and Sioux Falls has just been named the most sustainable city in the nation. Students have to describe in this essay how the city got to that point, what were the impacts to the community and explain what some of the specifics on how the city made that accomplishment.

“It is an exciting way for students to use their writing skills and their creativity and their problem solving to take part in this process,” Meier said.

Meier said their art contest gives students a chance to draw out their sustainable Sioux Falls.

They are very excited to hear from students because they know that youth are so important in this process, they are the future and they will be inheriting the benefits or the challenges from the decisions that we make today and in the future, Meier said.

Although the community engagement resources have only been available since the beginning of the month, Meier said they have already seen quite a few surveys taken. She has also been getting some calls from the media about trying to get the word out, as well as residents, a couple students, about their art contest.

For over a decade, the city has been prioritizing sustainability, according to the website. The sustainability program, Leading Green, was started in 2009 and their current activities include recycling, waster reduction efforts, water quality programs, LED streetlight replacement, community education and outreach and nature-based stormwater solutions.

A Steering Committee made up of 27 community stakeholders and city staff members is guiding the sustainability planning process. The external stakeholders represent development, business, environmental, community and educational constituency groups.

The timeline, tentatively, will have the plan being released in 2022, possibly quarter one or quarter two, Meier said.

“One of the things that’s really great about this planning process is we do have some flexibility to allow for any changes that happen as we hear from the community or anything else bubbles up that we want to look into further,” Meier said.

Meier encourages all community members to take the sustainability survey because it is a wonderful way to make sure your voice is heard throughout the process and provide your ideas to the city.

“We are going to be looking at all the comments, all the data and be incorporating this in our planning process,” Meier said. “So it is really important we hear from you.”

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