A report from city hall staff summarizing input from the public during the Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change open house is now in the hands of city council.
Over 100 citizens attended the September open-house to offer opinions and hear from representatives of various city departments about ways to reduce the city’s greenhouse footprint.
City Councillor Scott Robertson said the sheer volume of people who attended the open house is a strong indicator that residents are concerned about the future.
“We know how hard it is to get 10 or 20 people to come out on a weeknight to give their feedback or learn about issues. So, the fact we had well over 100 people come out that night to talk about climate change, adaptation and mitigation I think, is a clear message to this council and to members of senior staff, that this is something our community takes seriously and it is a priority for people who live here.”
The report outlines the city’s response to the feedback received from residents about initiatives they would like to see happen.
Some of which the city is already doing.
“There are smaller items like limiting single-use plastics at city hall, not having water bottles at meetings. Trying to install water bottle filling stations at city parks. A couple of small initiatives with transit in terms of trying to be more efficient with our transit system,” said Robertson.
“I think some of the big-ticket items we would like to see is the electrification of fleet. That we are told is not a feasible initiative right now. Other things we would like to see in terms of organics collections, like compost collection which is something I know a lot of other municipalities do. City staff feels it would be detrimental to the methane collection at the landfill because we collect methane at the landfill, rather than flaring it off, which feeds the system and generates revenue for the city.”
Councillor Chris Mayne says the city can always do better.
“A lot of the things we do already, but there are always new ideas and ways to improve what we are doing to reduce, replace and remove carbon dioxide in our day to day dealings at city hall,” said Mayne.
“Reduction just simply means using less gas, going to more fuel-efficient vehicles, more efficiently insulated buildings and that includes designing in the future building code”
Replacing refers to trying to find alternative sources of energy.
“Solar cells are probably one thing we can try and make more use of. There is already a small solar cell on the roof of city hall. And for people who drive around, you’ll notice we are using solar cells to generate electricity for some of the street signs in the city,” said Mayne.
“These are small things we can continue to do and expand on in the future. Greening projects like planting more trees, grass, plants. These are things that actually remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They are small steps but taken together, we’re hoping they will make more of an impact on reducing our impact on climate change in the future.”
The city councillor says it is a balance, trying to be as efficient and as effective as possible to reduce the impact of climate change, while still being fiscally responsible.
“Anyone who looks at the report would actually be impressed with how much we’re doing already and have been doing for a number of years. We always want to do more, and the challenge is doing more while it is affordable at the same time,” said Mayne.
“One of the things that were mentioned was going to a carbon dioxide scrubber at the landfill where we burn off the methane, but there is still significant carbon dioxide as a waste product. Scrubbers are almost a million dollars and it is hard to justify that kind of cost for the amount of benefit we get from it.”
Mayne says the next report from staff due in the fall, is going to be more of an engineering study.
“As northern communities have to address issues like increased flooding, environmental concerns arising from climate change, should we be designing larger storm sewers? Should we be having larger storm ponds in different areas? Are there designs we should be considering, to mitigate the impacts that climate change may have on northern communities.?”
The report can be found online in the February 11council agenda under council meetings, by going to www.cityofnorthbay.ca