By Sophika Kostyniuk

People power, passion and perseverance. These are the key ingredients that helped convince Richmond city council to make environmental rights a top priority for the B.C. municipality, now and into the future.

A mere four months have passed since a small group of committed citizens gathered together for two days of community organizing training in Richmond. Over the course of those two days, they mapped out the Richmond Blue Dot 1 campaign — a campaign designed to bring together motivated and concerned citizens and galvanize them to work toward positive change in their community. It was the first of its kind in Canada.

Three months later, nearly 2,000 successful conversations have been held by this growing network of youth, new immigrants, writers, health-care professionals, postal workers and representatives from a myriad of other sectors. Petition cards were signed and collected, calling on city council to champion basic human needs including access to fresh air, clean water, healthy foods and nature.

Perceived cultural, language and religious barriers were overcome with the powerful message that tapped into the desires of residents no matter where they came from or what their political leanings may have been. The same rang true for groups such as Garden City Conservation Society, the Canadian Youth Leadership Training Centre, the Richmond Food Security Society and VAPOR, a group opposing the proposed airport fuel project in Richmond. Everyone found a place for themselves and their interests under this elegant umbrella — the Right to a Healthy Environment.

On October 14, Richmond city council unanimously adopted a declaration in support of the Right to a Healthy Environment, ensuring that access to fresh air, clean water and healthy food guides the community’s direction.

The residents of Richmond have clearly demonstrated that citizens have the power to positively transform their community by gathering around a key issue and amplifying a hopeful message.

Join us to do the same in your community. This is just the beginning!

(Image credit: Francis Lynn)