New goals for today’s challenges
Five decades ago, state lawmakers recognized that urban sprawl was out of control. The private bus company was facing bankruptcy. Pollution in our lakes and rivers was a major problem. That’s why the Minnesota Legislature created the Met Council to ensure orderly growth and development in the region.
Looking back, we can say with confidence that the regional approach they adopted has been a success. The Twin Cities region is consistently ranked as being one of the best places to live in the nation. We have beautiful parks and open spaces, our transit system is well run and nationally recognized, our lakes and rivers are cleaner, and our regional economy is strong.
Fifty years from now, what will our children and grandchildren say about how we tackled the challenges that will impact their lives?
I believe that future generations will judge us largely on four things that the Council sees as priorities.
First, did we make the transportation investments needed to ensure that people can get to work and school, and that goods and services continue to move efficiently in our marketplace? With 700,000 more people here in 2040, these investments are critical. In particular, our transit system will need significant investment to keep up with growing ridership demands.
Second, did we greatly improve opportunities for people of color and indigenous people? Today our region has one of the biggest gaps nationally between white people and people of color and indigenous people on measures like graduation rates, home ownership, and income. Without closing that gap, our region cannot continue to prosper.
The third is housing costs. Population growth will put even more pressure on the current supply of housing, particularly housing for people with lower incomes. In the last decade, rents in the Twin Cities area have gone up twice as fast as the cost of all other household goods and services.
Finally, we don’t have to wait for future generations to judge us for the work being done on climate change. Young people are telling us loud and clear that we’re not doing enough.
As important as input and feedback is, it doesn’t take the place of action. This fall, the Council will begin to lay out clear goals on each of these priority areas. The goals will be accompanied by metrics that we can use to measure our progress.
Our region has met big challenges before. As always, solutions will require partnerships – all of us pulling together. We’re ready to live up to the example that was set for us in the last 50 years, and tackle the unique challenges facing our region in the decades to come.