AUG 2019

Building a Resilient, Sustainable Community

For far too long the debate about climate change has been stifled by the false idea that there is some impossible divide between the economy and the environment.

In Saskatoon, it is time to overcome this divide and take action.

There is a real opportunity to make changes that will benefit residents, businesses, and future generations if we take a practical, problem-solving approach. There is tremendous potential in Saskatoon to be a leader in our province and an economic hub as the world makes this green shift. No one group or government can do this work alone, but by working together we can find shared solutions that work for our community.

Here are some of the projects that have either been implemented or are in the works that will provide over $4.2 million per year in benefit back to residents and help offset pressure on your taxes.

They also result in a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, reducing GHG emissions by 58,721 tonnes, the equivalent of taking over 12,000 cars off the road.

  • Landfill Gas Project: We have put a clay liner on the landfill to capture methane and burn it as energy, providing $1.3 million in revenue every year to the City to offset the costs of running our operations and reducing GHG emissions significantly.
  • LEDs in Leisure Centers: By converting fluorescent lighting in our pools and Leisure Centers to LED lights, we are saving $134K in utility costs and avoiding $45K of maintenance costs every 2 to 3 years.
  • LEDs in street lights: We are using federal dollars to help convert street lights to LEDs. After 5 years, the reduced costs of LED lights will result in $849K of savings every year to residents.
  • GPS on City road maintenance equipment: We are implementing GPS systems to help build more efficient routes for our roadway maintenance fleet, projecting a savings of 20% in time and fuel consumption and resulting in $646K in fuel savings and $1.1 million saved a year in maintenance costs.
  • Paul’s Hospital combined heat and power plant: We’re partnering with the Health Authority to build a new efficient heat and power plant that will provide heat to the hospital and power to the grid, generating $225K of revenue per year to the City.

These are just a few examples, but the impacts on our finances and our GHG emissions are real. Other projects that are helping to save money include the new Saskatoon Police building with efficient building design, planned retrofits on many of our existing buildings, an upcoming high-performance building policy for future civic buildings, and work on a city-wide solar strategy.

This is good business.  But these things don’t happen by accident—every one of these initiatives happened because of planning and thinking differently.

The Low Emissions Community Plan is a wide ranging plan that outlines what it would take to reduce our emissions by 80% by 2050. This is the goal which cities across the world have been adopting as part of the Global Compact of Mayors, which Mayor Atchison signed for Saskatoon in 2015. However, we can’t do this work alone—we need to work with the community and to be courageous about bringing different points of view together and finding the best solutions from diverse opinions.

The benefit of this plan is that it provides concrete examples of what initiatives have the greatest impact on emissions, which ones are most cost effective, and which ones are most challenging.

As a community, it is our responsibility to decide what we can accomplish together, which initiatives we believe will have an impact and we want to move on now, and which ones are for a future discussion.

I believe in the ability of our community to come up with solutions that address the climate challenges we face. Every year we see the impacts of a changing climate hitting cities—from flooding to wildfires to heat waves to droughts. I am hearing from more and more people their growing concern for the future and a desire to do something about it. I am also hearing a growing frustration in the divisiveness that seems to accompany discussions around climate change, and I am committed to overcoming this polarization.

But being practical, by drawing on our city’s history of collaboration, hard work, and entrepreneurialism, we can become one of the cities that is positioned for the future. This is where the future is headed and it is up to all of us to make the decisions that will see us succeed tomorrow.

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