Donald Wilson: A New Year’s resolution to plan city of the future

Charlotte Square is part of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site. Picture: Scott Taylor
Charlotte Square is part of Edinburgh's World Heritage Site. Picture: Scott Taylor
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As 2017 takes hold, all of us are reflecting on the highs and lows of the past year and what we hope the next 12 months will bring.

It can be tricky enough identifying the changes we want to make in our own lives, so it is quite an ask to look beyond 2017 and plan for the next five, ten, even 30 years! Yet together that is what we as a city are seeking to do in 2017.

Lord Provost Donald Wilson. Picture: Greg Macvean

Lord Provost Donald Wilson. Picture: Greg Macvean

The 2050 City Vision has very much captured Edinburgh’s imagination and submissions continue to come in from businesses, charities and residents. All of these viewpoints are providing a wealth of material for the development of this exciting plan for our city’s future.

It is important to acknowledge our shared past and what we do as a community. An understanding of who we are is necessary before we can work out who we want to become and carve out a clear path to get there.

As civic leader of the city, I am privileged to have a unique relationship with people and groups from all walks of Edinburgh life. There is such energy and a will to do well in this city and Edinburgh does have success time and again as the best place to do business; the best place to live; the best place to discover the arts. Will this still be the case in 2050?

Edinburgh has an architectural and cultural legacy like no other. This certainly needs to be nurtured and developed in a sustainable way if we are to retain what is so distinctive about our city and our people as we go forward. Yet, the need for sustainability and greater support for the environment can sometimes be challenging as a Unesco World Heritage city.

Of course it is necessary that we meet these challenges in our vision for the future, but our collective resolution for the year ahead (and for the many decades to follow) should be about much more than simply preserving what is already good about our city. We should strive to go one better. While Edinburgh is rightly proud of its successes, it is not yet equal. That is something we need to address together.

My own vision is for a city where homelessness is a tragedy of the past and where poverty and inequality cease to exist. Through fundraising for all sorts of charities and championing the OneCity Trust and the Lord Provost’s Rapid Action Fund, it is my mission to support groups and events which tackle inequality. Just yesterday I was dubbed the “Loony Provost” for taking part in the Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Loony Dook for charity! So, I hope the Edinburgh of 2050 places great emphasis on charity and volunteering.

Celebration of volunteers featured highly in my 2016 through efforts such as the Good Neighbour Awards, the Lord Provost Volunteers the Year, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and my Community Garden Party. I very much hope recognitions like these remain staples this year and in the future.

It makes me proud to be the Lord Provost of a city that has so many wonderful people who look out for each other and one community. These are the kind of people who make Edinburgh great. So while I wish you luck as you embark upon your own resolutions for 2017, I also dare you to think of one for your city. What lasting and meaningful change could we make together to support our communities and those around us? How can we make Edinburgh even greater? Tell us at edinburgh.org/2050-edinburgh-city-vision.

Councillor Donald Wilson is Edinburgh’s Lord Provost