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    Categories: Environment

Environment File: new waste app, and green items in the budget

WHERE THIS GO? — City waste and diversion program supervisor Olivia Kwok ponders where to place an egg carton as she demonstrates the city's new BeWasteWise app. The free app gives tips on how to sort your waste. Egg cartons can go in either the recycling or compost, Kwok said.

New trash app

City residents can now use their phones to figure out what goes where on garbage day.

The City of St. Albert launched its new BeWasteWise app this week. The free program, which works on smartphones or desktop computers, is meant to help residents sort their waste and remember when to put out their waste carts.

“There was a big demand for it,” said city waste and diversion program supervisor Olivia Kwok, and many other communities have similar apps.

The app lets residents to look up when they should put out their waste bins and can send reminders about events such as large item pick-ups, Kwok said. It also lets an individual type in different waste items to find out if they should go in the compost, trash, recycling, or recycling depot. Kwok asked residents to email her if they find any item not listed by the app so she could add it to the program.

The app is available at https://goo.gl/ZDsYbv or the Google Play and Apple App store.

Green cuts in budget

Trees, solar panels and smart meters are just a few of the eco-related items currently on the chopping block for the 2018 city budget.

City council received the first draft of its 2018-2020 business plan and budget this week. In it is a long list of items proposed to be pushed back in the city’s 10-year capital plan to deal with a funding shortfall, some of which deal with environmental issues.

One item proposed for a pause is $250,000 for urban forest canopy enhancement and management.

The city started a three-year $250,000-a-year plan in 2016 to plant trees and bulk up its urban forest canopy, said Louise Stewart, city parks and open spaces manager. They’ve planted the first thousand trees, but held off on the rest in order to do a tree inventory, which could suggest where best to plant more trees.

Stewart said she was fine with this funding being delayed for a year, as it would give crews time to finish the inventory.

Also proposed for pauses are $2 million for solar panels, $60,600 for co-generation, $65,700 for heat recovery, and $30,300 for smart facility monitoring systems.

These items are all energy efficiency improvements for Servus Credit Union Place, said city environment director Leah Kongsrude. Co-generation would use cheap natural gas to generate electricity and heat at the facility, heat recovery would mine waste heat from the pool and air, and solar panels would generate electricity. The smart meter would let the city track trends in energy use at Servus to reveal savings opportunities.

The draft budget also green-lights a few other environmental projects.

There’s $75,000 for a tree canopy expansion co-op pilot program, for example. This program, if approved, would give residents up to $150 per home if they buy a tree and plant it on their property.

“Our residents are tree-crazy,” Kongsrude said, so the city wants to see if an incentive will encourage them to plant more trees on private property and enhance the city’s canopy.

There’s also $17,500 to do a survey as part of an update to the city’s environmental master plan, $50,000 to do a citywide waste audit, and $205,800 to plan and later build trails in the Grey Nuns White Spruce Park.

Council is now debating the budget and may add, remove, or change any of these items prior to final approval.

Budget documents can be found at https://goo.gl/vhB3R8.

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.