St. Albert: A good model for municipal environment reporting

The City of St. Albert, with a population of about 61,000 adjacent to Edmonton, Alberta, yesterday published its ninth annual environment report. St. Albert is not the only Canadian municipality to publish an annual environment but its comprehensive approach almost certainly makes it one of the leaders in this field.

Annual municipal environment reports are still unusual in Canada but, just as with environmental reports from business, the St. Albert model shows how useful they can be:

  • keeping pressure on advancement of key municipal priorities
  • encouraging citizens to do their part to protect and enhance the environment
  • reducing wasteful consumption of resources
  • establishing a green and more environment friendly image for the city
  • assisting business environment and sustainability initiatives

The current St. Albert environment report, for the year 2012,  highlights a number of achievements including:

  • The City has met and exceeded its 2020 waste diversion target of 65% and the per capita waste production target of 125 kg per person per year. In 2012, the City of St. Albert generated 112 kg per person per year of waste (down from 137 kg per person per year in 2011). Residents also diverted 67 per cent of waste of all household waste away from the landfill using the recycling and organics program (up from 58% in 2011).
  • St. Albert has received approval for an Air Quality Monitoring Station, which will be operational in 2014. The station will help provide a better understanding of the air quality in our city.
  • The Sturgeon River State of the Watershed Report was completed in 2012 which summarizes the current knowledge of the watershed. It provides an assessment of its health which will serve as a benchmark in which future activities can be assessed against. The watershed received an overall grade of “fair”, and the report provides several recommendations for its protection.
  • The City developed the Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity Plan, which is a long-term strategic plan that is linked to the water conservation targets from the City’s Environmental Master Plan. The plan sets short- to long-term recommendations for water conservation.
  • Residents continued to reduce the amount of water they used in 2012. Water consumption per capita reduced another five litres per person per day to 257 litres per person per day. The 2020 goal is 200 litres per person per day.
  • The City continues to work with the Partners for Climate Protection and is focused on completing milestone three, which is the creation of a Corporate and Community Greenhouse Gas Action Plan. This has been listed as a Council priority for 2013 in order to reduce non-renewable energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The City’s Public Works department received ISO 14001 Certification which is an international standard for environmental excellence. Public Works now joins St. Albert Transit as the two City departments to have ISO certification.
  • The City of St. Albert won the 2012 Municipal R’s of Excellence award from the Recycling Council of Alberta in recognition of an innovative and successful waste reduction program. The provincial award is handed out to one municipality per year.

The St. Albert 2012 Report on the Environment, in a very easy to read and attractive format that would also be a good model for small and medium sized businesses and with links to other St. Albert municipal environment initiatives, can be found at http://www.stalbert.ca/report-on-the-environment

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