Council approves Environmental Sustainability Policy

By Miriam Ostermann, Associate Editor

Strathmore’s town council approved the Environmental Sustainability Policy last week. The policy highlights the development of a triple-bottom-line approach to sustainability while keeping in accord with the municipality’s vision and the promotion of the community’s well-being.
On April 6, 2016 town administration was instructed to draft a sustainability policy to be brought before council. The request came shortly after the Strathmore Sustainability Committee brought the issue before council, stating the development of a sustainability policy was part of the committee’s mandate.
Several years ago, the Town of Strathmore secured the services of AECOM to develop a Community Sustainability Plan. Five pillars of sustainability were identified in the 2012 plan. Such mainstays were cultural sustainability, social sustainability, environmental sustainability, governance sustainability and economic sustainability.
In order to avoid confusion, administration proposed to develop separate policies to address each individual pillar. Therefore, council was asked to approve a policy with an approach to environmental sustainability on Oct. 4.
“The sustainability policy, at the moment in time, is focused on environmental sustainability, so it was administration’s thought that we could separate out the different pillars of sustainability to have their own policies under one umbrella,” said Jennifer Sawatzky, manager of legislative services with the Town of Strathmore.
“The policy has been drafted to develop an approach to environmental sustainability in accordance with the town’s vision and mission. It also provides a framework within which supporting protocols and procedures may be developed. Attached to the policy is also a procedure that we have drafted that will help set best practices that will aid in the development and implementation of programs and practices to encourage environmental sustainability across town facility and town events on town property.”
The best practices are outlined in a municipal operations procedure included with the policy.
The strategy will apply to town employees, volunteers, contractors and those carrying out business within the Town of Strathmore. Policy 8100 focuses on sustainable operations, sustainable facilities and sustainable partnerships – the triple bottom line. Furthermore, it provides guidelines for management, and employee and council responsibilities.
Included in the approach: identifying ways to minimize consumption of non-renewable energy, water and solid, organic and hazardous waste products; incorporation of environmentally-sound techniques by facilities management, such as energy and water conservation and space utilization management; and strengthening partnerships through commitment to open and transparent decision-making processes that balance social, economic and ecological imperatives.
“Before we go around telling everyone else to be environmentally friendly in different manners, we should look inwards first, and as a town perhaps provide some guidance and some leadership in regards to being leaders in the environmental sustainability methods,” said Councillor Bob Sobol.
“The main goal for us was to get those best practices established. This has been through the ringer a few times. It’s not rocket science, it’s just a matter of everybody getting on the same page and saying ‘this is good for our environment, let’s all get together and be a little bit more ecofriendly.’”
Councillor Denise Peterson also voiced her opinion, stating her appreciation for the succinctness of the policy and the triple-bottom-line. She went on to say statistics show many driverless cars are expected to roam the streets in 2024 and added that she was in favour of the policy.
The policy received approval from the Strathmore Sustainability Committee on Sept. 18, 2017. Council, with all members present, voted unanimously to approve the Environmental Sustainability Policy no. 8100 on Oct. 4.