Letters to the Editor

Members write letters to the local paper, the Lethbridge Herald, both as individuals and on behalf of sage. 

The letters posted here are selections of recent or still contentious issues. 
Embedded links on this page will open a new window to the Herald - keep an eye on the paper for more letters.


Recycling debate showed best, worst of city council 


I witnessed the best and the worst in our elected representatives at the city council meeting on Monday, Jan. 25 considering the motion to proceed with a curbside recycling program in Lethbridge. The motion was defeated five to four.

The reasons provided for voting against the motion by councillors Coffman, Hyggen, Iwaskiw, Mauro and Miyashiro were that it would tap into their pocketbook ($5.50 per month), require people who don’t want to recycle to pay, and force a few small recycling businesses to change their current way of doing business. All of the opponents wanted people at their places of work, not at home, to shoulder the responsibility for improving waste diversion from the landfill. There was an unspoken sense of distrust in the information and advice provided by city administration and one councillor was peeved that his proposed last-minute amendments to the motion were not accepted.

The reasons provided for voting for the motion by Mayor Spearman, Deputy Mayor Mearns and councillors Carlson and Parker included that curbside recycling is consistent with the environmental policy and waste reduction targets approved by city council. Curbside recycling would demonstrate positive environmental behaviour, contribute to the collective good, and ensure the responsibility for reducing waste is shared among all sectors in our city.

Only by offering the convenience of curbside recycling will there be widespread participation by citizens in diverting waste. It was also pointed out that curbside recycling has been under consideration for several
2 years, many studies have been done regarding its implementation, and there is broad community support.

Lethbridge is one of the most wasteful communities on Earth. In Alberta, all urban communities larger than Lethbridge, and many smaller, have implemented curbside recycling.

Progress towards becoming an environmentally responsible community is realized through vision, shared responsibility and trust as expressed by councillors voting in favour of the motion, not through the short-sighted, narrow-minded, distrustful views expressed by those voting against. I look towards the day when the objections of the nay-sayers are swept away and relegated to the dust bin (not the recycling bin) of history.

Cheryl Bradley

LINK to the Herald

Curbside program will help divert landfill waste

23 JANUARY 2016

The Southern Alberta Group for the Environment (SAGE) is a non-profit, volunteer organization that advocates for constructive solutions to environmental issues on behalf of our region. SAGE supports the efforts of the City of Lethbridge to advance waste diversion strategies in the construction and demolition (C&D), industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI), and residential sectors.

We support the three sector strategies on the basis of better managing our natural resources and reducing landfill emissions to the natural environment (protecting our air, soil and water). According to the Conference Board of Canada, we produce more waste per capita than any other OECD nation, Alberta produces more waste per capita than any other province, and Lethbridge produces more waste per capita than the other cities in the province. This makes us one of the most wasteful groups of people on the planet – over a tonne of waste from each of us, each year.

Relying on voluntary recycling, only about 15 per cent of the residential waste is diverted from the landfill, and waste diversion from the other sectors are less than 10 per cent. Research suggests that these rates of voluntary recycling will not substantially improve without the implementation of community-based curbside recycling of materials and compostable waste. And with the greater amounts of waste being diverted, Lethbridge will have to increase its capacity to sort, store and sell recycled commodities: SAGE supports the establishment of a city-owned, privately operated materials recycling facility to convert our waste into useful commodities.

In addition to the diversion of useful materials from the landfill to be sold as commodities, compostable materials may be transformed into useful products like fuel (which can be used for power generation) and a rich soil amendment. With less waste, the useful life of the landfill would be extended. And with more effective waste diversion, there would be a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and associated environmental risks. Moreover, recycling means less environmental impact from the extraction of raw materials and processing. The result would be positive both economically and environmentally for Lethbridge in the long term.

SAGE believes that curbside recycling of materials and compostable wastes is an encouraging step towards making Lethbridge more sustainable.

Braum Barber
Executive Director

LINK to pdf document

LINK to The Herald

 Considerations were Missing from Recycling Depot Plan

08 May 2012 
In March, city council decided to replace the seven existing locations of recycling depots with three new ones. 
Litter control, capacity and property ownership were the main reasons for relocating the depots. The west and north side depots are to be located at the northern periphery of the urban areas and a new site is still sought for the Fairway Plaza Shopping Centre. The 11 design features for the new sites ranged from wind shelter to accessible location and future yard waste site.

Unfortunately, energy considerations and increased traffic were not high on the decision process for the new site locations. If we assume that some 100 users will make a trip to each outlying depot every day (10 kilometres round trip), then some one million km will be travelled by users in one year. The aim of good governance should be to provide maximum well-being for the minimum of consumption. The purpose of recycling is to conserve earthly resources and hopefully energy.
In the past, our family recycling process had a dual purpose: Shopping for food and recycling. Separating these two functions will make each process less energy efficient and will make recycling inconvenient. In addition, the drives to the far-removed depots will expel noxious gases into our atmosphere by the burning of additional fuel. Unless, of course, fuel cost and inconvenience will reduce recycling and instead, deliver more resources to the landfill.
Project planning must include the level of energy use and costs in money and time to the user.
Klaus Jericho
Energy Collegium and
Southern Alberta Group for the Environment

LINK to Klaus' Conversation Page



Tackling climate change requires system change

18 January 2011  

This winter, I was privileged to attend the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP16) in Cancun, Mexico, as a Canadian Youth Delegate. I was able to do so from the generosity and goodwill of my peers, friends, family and residents of Lethbridge, who helped me enormously in my fundraising efforts. The support of so many people for such an amazing experience was extremely encouraging and heart warming; this support says a lot about the tightly knit community and strong values of the people of Lethbridge, and what kinds of things we can accomplish by working together. I want to particularly thank LPIRG, SACPA, SAGE, SACEE and the YWCA for their generous support.

My experiences at the UN were full of mixed emotions. Urgency, anger and frustration were the dominant sentiments, but there were also hints of inspiration and hope. Witnessing the stagnation, rhetoric and bureaucracy of the process was almost unbearable, yet to be able to participate in such a huge and diverse gathering of people focused on such a monumental issue was truly motivating. Climate change is the defining crisis of my generation, and indeed of humanity as a whole. But it's not just an environmental issue. Poverty, health, gender issues, indigenous rights, pollution, fresh water, deforestation, species loss, etc., all of these issues are directly or indirectly linked to climate change, either through the root causes or through impacts of climate change. This highlights the inherent interconnectedness of our planet, how we live and the challenges we face; dealing with climate change means addressing the root problems and fundamental philosophies our society functions on.

Canada is living in its own universe when it comes to climate change; inaction, speculation and denial have defined much of Canada's political reaction to this problem. Our current government is depending on an apathetic, uninformed electorate that is entranced with consumerism in order to carry out an agenda being dictated by ideology and big oil. Our best hope to change this is to educate ourselves, maintain our community connections and speak with a strong, unified voice: We want system change, not climate change.

Stephen McGlenn


Where's science to back Castle clear-cutting?

30 December 2010

This is further to the open house staged by the Department of Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) and Spray Lake Sawmill Co. on Nov. 18 and the community conversation on logging the Castle Watershed organized by the Southern Alberta Sustainable Community Initiative in Pincher Creek on Dec. 7.
Poor road conditions prevented me from reaching the Nov. 18 meeting in Pincher Creek. At the Dec. 7 meeting, open discussion searched in vain for the reason SRD is permitting the destruction of public lands. Short-term, low-level economic gain for a few was the only explanation on offer. Representatives from SRD and Spray Lake Sawmill Co. were not available at the Dec. 7 meeting.

Clear-cutting is destruction of forest, not forest management. The revised C5 "Forest Management Plan" released by SRD on July 15, 2010 designates certain areas for clear-cutting of forest. Projects with long-term public interest need assessment not only from the economic standpoint but also measurements of energy inputs, environmental and, in this case, social consequences. Such assessments, to have any value, must be based in science that is data collection and its unbiased analysis. I herewith request the public release of such analysis, if available, for the above project.

The only science-based assessment of the Castle Watershed is the hearings conducted by Natural Resources Conservation Board (SRD) in December 1993. These hearings were prompted by the resort proposal for the West Castle ski hill location. The Decision Report, of 280 pages, concluded that it was in the long-term interest of the public to protect 92 per cent of the Castle Watershed as a Wildland Protected Area. The words "clear-cutting" do not appear in the report.

The recommendations of this report were accepted by the Alberta government one year after the hearings (Dec. 9, 1994) but surprisingly, this acceptance was rescinded five months later (May 10, 1995). Alarmingly, SRD is now allowing, with Spray Lake Sawmill Co. as a willing corroborator, to destroy part of the public lands advised to be given protective status by the only science-based assessment of the area in the Decision Report of 1993. I ask, what is the science behind forest destruction in the Castle Watershed by the Department of Sustainable Resource Development?

Klaus Jericho

LINK to Klaus' Conversation Page