compiled by Colin Smith
To help provide information on where candidates for Council stand on matters of interest to residents, Morinville Online will be asking them a question each week for the duration of the election campaign and publishing their responses. The responses may have been edited for length and clarity.
Today’s Question: Do you feel that climate change is a major issue for Morinville? Are there measures that the town should be taking to deal with its effects?
Simon Boersma: The town is impacted by climate change more than ever; utilities such as water and electricity have risen. Morinville’s new developments need to be looking at these impacts, be they residential or business. Town Council must recognize that it will require collaboration from the region, including the Alberta government and federal government. With weather patterns changing and the storms the Prairies have been seeing recently, we need to be ready to mitigate the stress this may cause residents. As the storm in northeast Calgary showed, a regional helpline will make a difference in the mental health of residents impacted.
Shane Ladouceur: I believe that every one of us on the planet has a responsibility of being environmentally conscious in every aspect of life, climate or not. You’re only as healthy as the environment in [which] you live in and what you are exposed to. Every region is different of course. Morinville has great programs in place that help us live in a great environment. And of course, there is always room for improvement, as in any policy or systems, as technology progresses. And we should always as managers look for better ways to improve our environmental footprint.
Barry Turner: Climate change is a global issue, not just a local one. One approach is to ensure energy efficiency is considered when upgrading or maintaining infrastructure, vehicles and equipment. Additionally, the Town can pursue programs that support residents and businesses making energy efficiency upgrades. Ultimately, the greatest impact will be achieved through regional collaboration and joint investment in alternative energy projects. These projects are expensive and most effective at larger scales. Municipalities jointly investing in such initiatives can reduce the costs and result in significant progress towards our provincial, national and global goals. Additionally, such investments can even generate additional revenue.
Jenn Anheliger: Climate change is an issue for every community. We need to look at how our municipality can reduce its impacts on the environment and create a sustainable strategy for the future. As the federal carbon tax and regulatory pressure increases over the coming years, it is important that the next strategic plan addresses the infrastructure and environmental goals outlined in our Municipal Sustainability Plan. This includes optimizing investment and capital expenditures and preserving parks and surrounding ecosystems. Proactive and thoughtful planning for retrofitting buildings with energy-efficient upgrades or converting municipal fleets to cleaner energy will ultimately provide Morinville cost savings.
Rebecca Balanko: Climate change is real. Its problems can be significant and affect generations to come. However, the climate has been changing for much longer than the last 40 years. Six thousand years ago the Sahara was green and lush. Twenty thousand years ago Canada was covered by ice during the last ice age. Ultimately, climate change is a global problem requiring global solutions. On the municipal level the best we should do is to encourage recycling and reusing of materials. I do not believe in sacrificing our local economy by imposing sanctions to combat a problem we can’t locally fix.
Nicole Boutestein: While climate change is a worldwide issue it should be a part of municipal strategic initiatives. Morinville currently has several proactive plans in place. The 35-year Municipal Sustainability Plan was created to strike a balance so residents’ quality of life is not compromised by future decision-making. Highlights include water conservation, wastewater management and proactive management of our solid waste program. These measures can help to reduce our carbon footprint at the local level. Ensuring continued discussion with regional partners and governments in order to explore new ideas and seek further efficiencies will allow us to collectively tackle this ongoing global issue.
Stephen Dafoe: Other than building a protective dome over the Town, there are no specific measures Morinville can take to deal with climate change’s effects. That said, it will be necessary for the Town to continue to be an active participant in the Sturgeon Regional Emergency Management Partnership as severe weather, including tornados, becomes more likely. On the preventative side, there are many things Morinville can do. These include working with Roseridge’s efforts to reduce household and commercial waste, being frugal with energy consumption in Town facilities, and taking advantage of federal and provincial green dollars when available.
Wayne Gatza: We all care about the changing climate impacts seen in Alberta during the last few years, ranging from fires to lack of moisture to floods in certain areas. The choices we make every day have an impact and I believe we need to have a strong educational component that provides valuable information to our residents, teaching simple lifestyle actions we can take to reduce emissions and help reduce energy costs. There are funding programs available to municipalities to help with addressing climate change that can improve overall energy efficiency as well as saving money for our community.
Sarah Hall: Climate change is an issue the world over and we are all part of the problem and solution. All municipalities must actively seek ways to build sustainable and reliable services that decrease our collective impact. In Morinville, we can create green development standards, reduce emissions by implementing a reliable transit service, and initiate energy-efficient retrofit programs, which we can tie into our asset management program currently being developed. Through the federal MCI program Morinville could gain funding for plan implementation. Actively preparing for climate change is paramount in responsible leadership around the world and our municipality is no different.
Alan John Otway: Council’s role towards climate change is threefold.
Lead by example, individually and through constant recalibration of the work done by the town. We continue to build streets and curbs that would not allow for people to safely plug in a car. Upgrading electrical infrastructure to future needs is also required. We need to taking a much more proactive approach to increasing capacity and supply of our water system. Remove barriers for taxpayers. Permits for property upgrades for the purpose of reducing carbon footprint should be free. Developments/building codes need to be updated, incorporating future thinking.
Analyze and communicate the successes and failures of real world investments by other communities.
Maurice St. Denis: Our Council and Administration should be accessing all federal and provincial funding available to municipalities to support residents, businesses and organizations that seek to implement more innovative and sustainable practices. It would be difficult to argue that climate change is a “major” priority in the midst of a global pandemic and economic recession. I believe the impacts of climate change are much more pronounced for our local farmers who have endured another summer of extreme heat and lower-than-normal yields. I hope that through economic recovery the Town of Morinville can become a leader in environmental stewardship in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region.
Erin Vollick: I do not feel that climate change is a major issue for a small rural town like Morinville. Like all of Canada, we are a drop in the bucket when it comes to such an issue and our efforts and money would be better spent on things like recycling initiatives, seeing the cost-benefit of adding solar panels to town buildings, adding more garbage/recycling cans in more locations like next to mailboxes and along the trails. Things we can easily do that will make a difference for our environment.
Ray White: Climate change is truly a global issue with responsibility right down to every individual. As a municipality, we have a responsibility to be good global citizens and guide our residents to ways they can be part of the solution. Anything we can do in regards to programs and initiatives to drive social responsibility is a benefit. We truly need to find a balance between costs and return on investment.
Scott Richardson did not reply to our request by our deadline.