Categories: Environment

City checks green goals

St. Albert is marching towards its ecological goals, according to the latest State of the Environment report, with less water used, more people on buses and a new plan to control air pollution.

The city’s Office of the Environment plans to release its 2009 State of the Environment Report this weekend to coincide with the Edmonton Earth Day celebrations.

The text of the report, provided to the Gazette, shows the city is still chipping away at its water use, which fell to a historic low of about 288 litres per person a day; the regional average is 224, according to Epcor. It also shows the city had met its environmental master plan goal of creating an ozone and particulate management plan.

This year signals a shift in focus for these reports, says Leah Jackson, the city’s environmental manager. While previous ones reported various eco-facts, future reports will track the city’s progress towards targets set by the environmental master plan.

Staff will keep a close eye on the city’s trash production to track the effects of curbside recycling, she says, set to begin this summer. "Hopefully next year we’ll have some interesting numbers to show."

Air, land and water

Alberta Environment asked the Capital region to create an ozone and particulate matter management plan last year when pollution levels got too close to federal limits.

That plan is now being rolled out in the form of car pools and park-and-ride initiatives, Jackson says. "Most of our particulate matter and ozone comes from traffic," she says, so the city will have to encourage transit use to reduce their levels.

About five per cent more people took the bus from Edmonton to St. Albert last year than in 2007, according to the report. This summer will also see the start of ticketing for violations of the city’s anti-idling bylaw, which could also reduce air pollution.

Higher prices, public awareness and wet weather continue to drive down water use, Jackson says. The city still has to cut its use by almost half to reach its goal of 200 litres per person per day. A stepped rate for water — like pay-as-you-throw for your tap — could encourage more conservation, she says. The city was also thinking about piggybacking on the recent provincial energy efficiency rebates by offering $50 refunds for efficient water heaters and washers.

You won’t find any numbers on pesticide use in this year’s report, Jackson says, because the city is changing how it measures it. Past reports have shown pesticide use in terms of litres, but since pesticides can be diluted, it was a poor measure of the amount of actual chemical put on the ground.

"I’m guessing we’re pretty close to 0.5 kilograms per hectare," she says, referring to the pesticide target in the environmental master plan, but they won’t know until they do the calculations. The city’s integrated management plan for noxious weeds (which will be evaluated this summer) could also lead to more targeted pesticide use.

Jackson wasn’t sure if the Toxic Waste Roundup would return to the city this fall. The roundup, mentioned in the report, was held in the city last fall for the first time in 10 years.

The city recently voted to add a manned cardboard compactor to its recycling yard, Jackson says, which could turn it into a mini Eco-Station able to collect hazardous waste. "It’s contingent on having it manned." If the staffers aren’t in place by the fall, the city will probably hold a roundup in October.

The report, complete with graphs, will be printed in this Saturday’s Gazette. For copies and explanations, call the Office of Environment at 780-459-1735.


Kevin Ma: Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.