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  • susanebelford

Let's End the Battle of the Social Goods

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

“Anything that … improves quality of life for all …can be viewed as a social good.” (John Spacey, Apr 17, 2022 “40 Examples of Social Goods”)

Often, during discussions about social policy at Council and elsewhere, in response to a statement about the urgent need for one social good, someone will argue about the urgency of another social good, and so two equally vital social goods end up being pitted against each other. I call this the battle of the goods, and I say its time to end it.

Examples of social goods forced to battle: Civility- freedom of speech; wildlife habitat-development; freedom-responsibility; housing affordability-climate action; housing density and food security.

Human society—in Sooke, as everywhere else is at a turning point. We are privileged to be able to choose to embrace many social goods and take actions that improve quality of life for all and build a community where we all thrive.

Pitting one social good against another results in disappointment: subsidized housing without heat pumps that become stiflingly hot during a heat dome: Parks diminished by buildings and parking lots; dense housing developments built without green space or shade; improved highways built without bike lanes. The list goes on.

I say we stop forcing people to choose between social goods, and find a way to say “Yes, and…” As in “yes, we need housing that’s truly affordable AND we need to make that housing low carbon”; “yes, we need increased density in the core AND we need to ensure there are many opportunities for people to grow food for themselves, to share, and to sell”; yes, we need to improve the highway AND we need to accommodate all modes of travel.

Some people fear that taking a “Yes AND” approach will be costly. I would argue that careful planning to achieve all the social goods needed now will be cheaper in the long run than favoring some, ignoring others and continuing to be disappointed in the results. I would also argue that not taking this approach could have a cost to human wellbeing that will outweigh any savings achieved by closing our eyes to all our needs.

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