Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Acting to Improve Our Environment

Last week I wrote about two appeals to Niagara’s municipalities to help the environment. Adam Shoalts offered a challenge as he accepted the Region’s 2008 Environmental Volunteer Award and Dr. Homer-Dixon gave a challenge during the Smarter Niagara Summit in May.

Well, this week, I want to let you know about how your Town Council has taken some concrete action to help the environment.

First, your Council encourages water conservation by promoting rain barrels and low-flush toilets.

In March, Council approved a rain barrel program with a goal to distribute 200 315L and 50 500L rain barrels to Pelham residents at a rate subsidized by both the Town and the Region. The response was amazing since not only did we sell-out, but there are 150 people on the waiting list! (Staff recently suggested that if the waiting list reaches 200 units, they will recommend that we subsidize another allotment this year.)

Council also approved a Toilet Replacement Program by offering a $25 incentive to the first 100 households to submit receipts for purchasing a toilet that uses 6 litres per flush or less. Since most toilets use 13 LPF, and some even use 25 LPF, your water savings can be substantial.

Second, your Council encourages electrical conservation through initiatives like “Earth Hour” and through a retrofit of Town Hall.

“Earth Hour” called on individuals around the world to turn off their lights for one hour on March 29. The campaign intended to show that “individual action on a mass scale can help change our planet for the better.”

In addition, the Town recently replaced all old fluorescent light ballasts and bulbs at Town Hall with energy efficient ballasts and “T-8” fluorescent bulbs. Along with energy efficiency and cost savings, staff now enjoys the additional benefits of better lighting.

Third, your Council discourages our reliance on cars through initiatives like “Bike-to-Work-Week” and through an Active Transportation Committee.

The special Bike-to-Work-Week from May 26 to June 1 encouraged the use of bicycles as not only a healthy lifestyle choice but to decrease gas emissions and help the environment.

Similarly, the Active Transportation committee encourages walking, cycling and running through design. That is, they will make suggestions on retrofits or improvements to make Pelham a more active / walkable community.

I acknowledge that much more can be done at the municipal level to mitigate global warming through planning, infrastructure, public facilities, and emergency preparedness. However, these concrete examples show how your Council is encouraging environmental stewardship now.