Tool library, Yellow Fish get eco-cash

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Free tools and yellow fish roads will be coming to your neighbourhood next year thanks to some eco-grants from the city.

City council approved some $26,689.18 in Environmental Initiatives Grants Monday as recommended by the Environmental Advisory Committee. The annual grant program aims to encourage community members to come up with innovative ways to improve the state of St. Albert’s environment.

The committee approved 10 grants this year, many of which were from first-time applicants with ideas never seen before by the committee, said chair Tanya Doran.

Tools, fish, and more

The biggest grants at $5,000 each went to the Tool Library of St. Albert and Trout Unlimited.

There are a lot of tools out there people buy, use once, and then have sitting around forever because they can’t sell them, said tool library president Bridget Reschke.

“We’ve actually heard quite a few horror stories in the last few months of people throwing away whole garages full of tools because they don’t know what to do with them.”

The tool library will accept donations of unwanted tools and loan them to members for a $50 annual membership fee, Reschke said. She pitched it as an inexpensive way to give people access to ladders, tile saws, sewing machines, and hundreds of other tools people might use maybe once in their life.

Tool libraries leverage the sharing economy in order to reduce waste, Doran said. The library also planned to hold Fix It Cafés next year to teach people how to fix broken items, which would further reduce waste.

Reschke exclaimed “Yay!” when told she had received the grant, and said it would fund the purchase of the library’s initial home: a sea can that would be parked at the Grace Family Church.

The Trout Unlimited grant would help fund that group’s Yellow Fish Road initiative, Doran said. The popular program teaches kids not to pour contaminants down storm drains and has them paint yellow fish on sewer grates as a reminder to others.

This program is an inexpensive way to help prevent spills that otherwise cost the city thousands of dollars to clean up, Doran said.

The committee also called on city council to fund this program on an ongoing basis. Doran said the Yellow Fish Road initiative deals with city land and should be funded by the city, much as it currently funds reforestation efforts in Grey Nuns White Spruce Park.

City environmental manager Christian Benson said his department was researching the value of this program and would report to city council on it.

The Bellerose Composite Sustainability Club received $2,913.90 to install a real-time energy consumption display to encourage energy literacy. Doran said she had seen many other schools and recreation centres see energy savings after installing such meters.

The St. Albert Daycare Society will use its $1,000 grant to build a greenhouse to grow food for the city’s food bank, says a report to council. Another food producer, the St. Albert Urban Agriculture group, has received $1,531.18 to add seats for students to its food forest near the grain elevators.

École Father Jan will build an outdoor classroom with rain barrels, student murals and bird houses with its $4,500 grant, council heard. Grade 1 students at Keenooshayo will use their $632.10 grant to explore the science of plants with a raised garden table, while Robert Rundle students now have a $1,700 grant to start an environment club that plans to do air quality monitoring. The St. Albert Nature School’s $3,612 grant will support a new preschool-aged education program, while Venture into Nature’s $800 one will plan and implement family nature walks in St. Albert’s natural areas.

See stalbert.ca/cosa/admin/grants/environmental-initiatives-grant-program to learn how to apply for next year’s round of grants.

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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.