I went to the Thursday February 4th meeting of the City’s Environmental Advisory Committee to learn more about the Canadian Federation of Municipalities (FCM) Green Municipal Fund which contains the Municipal Sustainable Bylaw Collection. Councillor Clipsham submitted the list for the committee to review (EAC10-6) as a guide to best practices that have been tried and tested in other Canadian municipalities.
The FCM list gives bylaw examples in six categories Brownfields, Energy, Multi-sectoral initiatives, Transportation, Waste and Water. Each section contains bylaws pertaining to sustainable stewardship within each category. For example Kamloops’ Waterworks Bylaw 12-31 which allows those receiving city water to only water their lawns every other day and sets fines for infractions.
The Environmental Advisory Commitee decided to start with a review of water examples from the FCM list and compare those actions to existing bylaws in Regina.
The committee also discussed the possibility of having a Natural Step (ECA 10-5) workshop or presentation for members to better understand sustainable development. There was a concern, however, about the affordability of such presentations because of the Environmental Advisory Committee’s budget restrictions. They only have a travel budget. In order to hold a workshop or wider gathering with presenters such as Natural Step they would require support from city hall, partnership with an administrative department or another organization or corporation in the community at large.
The members tabled the question until next meeting when they would have a better understanding of costs from Natural Step and more information from the city administration as to where Regina is sustainability-wise compared to other places.
This version of the Environmental Advisory Commitee looked well away from forwarding issues to council for consideration. The members were apparently largely new to committee work and were unfamiliar with the commitee processes. There was a strong sentiment that the members didn’t want to just sit and read reports. As the issues above attest, members are actively trying to learn about projects, perspectives and about the City’s level of sustainable development.
The current apparent lack of focus and understanding is a little concerning when compared to say the slick-ness of the Regina Planning Commission, where the weight of wealthy developers and developments raises the stakes.
The meeting finished with a discussion about hearing the proposed Waste Management Plan (Garbage Plan) before it went to the Public Works Committee March 16th. The deadline for submissions to that Public Works Meeting is the 10th of March leaving the Environmental Advisory Commitee, who’s next meeting is on the 4th of March, just six days to submit a presentation. Much of the discussion was on how to speak to Derrick Bellows, heading the Waste Plan, earlier to allow time for the committee’s input.
I don’t know if all new committees have these sort of issues, certainly it is difficult to blame the members since they’re only fault is inexperience. Yet I, some how, doubt you’d see the day the Planning Commission would have 4 or 5 members who are just regular active citizens sitting at once, without experience.