Environment File

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A smoky barbecue and Bill Holtby clones at St. Albert Place? Must be Clean Air Day.

City staffers geared up Thursday to celebrate Clean Air Day on June 2. They started the party early at St. Albert Place with burgers, free bike tune-ups and human wheelbarrows, some of whom were inexplicably disguised as city manager Bill Holtby.

Staff held these activities early to avoid clashing with next week’s International Children’s Festival, said St. Albert Transit spokesperson Dawn Fedorvich. Residents who missed the party can still celebrate next week with free transit on June 2, as well as a chance to win a free bus pass.

Clean Air Day is all about getting people to leave their cars at home to walk, bike, or bus to work, Fedorvich said. Cars are one of the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in the city, so parking them can reduce pollution.

The city’s newest nine buses use about 13 per cent less fuel than its oldest ones, said Ian Sankey, analyst with St. Albert Transit, and emit fewer particulates and acid-rain ingredients. Unfortunately, they’re also about one per cent less efficient than they could be since they use extra fuel to eliminate those particulates.

Visit www.stalbert.ca/transit for more on Clean Air Day.

St. Albert REEPed the heck out of the Sturgeon River this month, say organizers, shattering all previous attendance records in their efforts to pluck trash and plant trees.

About 350 people came out to the annual Clean Up the Sturgeon event on May 16, said community recreation co-ordinator Erin Gluck — an all-time high. “We more than doubled our previous best participation rate,” she said, but they collected about the same amount of trash — just 700 kilograms.

There was also a distinct lack of huge items like washing machines that were common in years past, Gluck said, which she saw as a positive sign. “The message is getting out more.”

This was the first year that the cleanup had been combined with an environmental fair and the River’s Edge Enhancement Project’s (REEP) tree planting.

About 160 people took part in the planting on the river during the cleanup — far more than usual, said REEP co-ordinator Nicholas Batchelor.

“It was very gratifying to see the number of people who wanted to participate in planting either a tree or shrub,” he said, noting that they planted about 400 of them. The event was a huge success, one he credited to its combination with the cleanup and an environment fair.

Contractors recovered about 1,300 fish from Riel Pond following a pesticide application in late April, none of which were threespine stickleback.

City staff removed the plugs on the outfalls from Riel Pond on May 21 after tests confirmed the breakdown of the pesticides in it. Contractors had applied Rotenone to the pond on April 30 to try and kill the invasive threespine stickleback thought to be in it.

Some of the fish sank, said city environmental manager Leah Jackson, speaking to the Environmental Advisory Committee Thursday night, but contractors managed to scoop up about 1,300 dead fish. There were a lot of fathead minnows and brook stickleback, but no threespine.

“I’m not surprised that we didn’t find threespine stickleback,” Jackson said, “as they’re such a small proportion of the population.” This doesn’t mean that the pond was threespine free, she added, as the fish could have sunk before capture.

Crews have resumed scrubbing the screens on the outfalls, Jackson said, which clogged almost immediately after the plugs were removed. The city did a follow-up fish survey of the pond Wednesday to see if any threespine were in it. Once they get the results, provincial and federal officials will decide whether to let the city remove the screens.

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