In the past year ...

February 26, 2022

To: Economic Standing Policy Committee, City of Lethbridge

Re: Curbside Organics Collection

Lethbridge fully implemented its curbside program for recyclable materials two years ago. At that time, the average citizen was responsible for 325 kg of residential waste going to the landfill each year. Two years later, this number has dropped to roughly 250 kg of waste per person, a 25% reduction with an average of 75 kg of recyclable materials being diverted from the landfill. With only about 10% of residential waste stream still comprised of recyclable materials, this program has made a significant contribution towards meeting our residential waste diversion targets, much to the credit of the City of Lethbridge Waste & Recycling Utility. [...]

Of the current residential waste stream in Lethbridge, roughly 57% is organic. That is, food or yard waste that can be composted amounting to roughly 10,000 tonnes of organic waste each year from our homes. [...]

For cleaner air, cleaner water and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, implementing curbside pickup of organics is a cost-effective, a socially beneficial, and an environmentally necessary approach to our municipal waste management. It is an essential component of Council’s Waste Diversion Policy. SAGE supports this important initiative.

For more information click ... here

How much water is needed to keep a river healthy? Understanding Instream Flow Needs

In naturally dry regions such as southern Alberta, rivers provide a critical supply of water. Ever increasing human demands on this precious resource have natural consequences and limits. It is urgent that we understand what flows are needed to keep rivers healthy and functioning. Instream Flow Needs (IFN) are streamflows required to be left flowing in the channel to preserve river function. [...]

Unfortunately, when these fully protective IFN are compared to what is actually allowed to flow in lower reaches of our basin, the conclusion is that our river health is in a state of long term decline due to over allocation. Extensive scientific assessments of aquatic and riparian condition confirm this.

For more information click ... here.

Letter to Minister Wilkinson
28 January 2022

Re: Montem Resources: Application to the Federal Clean Fuels Fund

The Southern Alberta Group for the Environment (SAGE) is concerned about Montem Resources’ application for a grant of up to $5 million from the Clean Fuels Fund to help finance feasibility studies into the concept of building a 320 MW pumped hydro energy storage with the potential for hydrogen production. Our concern is based on three main principles: 1) that ‘clean fuels’ research and development should be explored by corporations committed to fossil fuel reduction; 2) that government support for feasibility studies of this sort should be evaluated with a systems approach and under the purview of the provincial electricity system operators (that is, the project results in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for the system); 3) that the proposal should pass some cursory feasibility evaluation before funding of this magnitude.

For more information, click ... here

Response from Minister Wilkinson ... here

To the City of Lethbridge, Community Safety Standing Policy Committee
(Submitted 04 January 2022)

Re: Light Nuisance Bylaw for Lethbridge

The Southern Alberta Group for the Environment (SAGE) supports the initiative being advanced by Rena Woss regarding the development of a Light Nuisance Bylaw for Lethbridge.

Light that trespasses into personal living spaces, including backyards, has negative impacts both to human wellbeing and the environment. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) organization identifies light as a form of pollution affecting people and the environment and as a potential source of energy-waste (with related greenhouse gas emissions). They recommend that external lighting be used only when and where they are required. And if external lighting is necessary that it is shielded from evading to the outside of the property. ...

For more information, click ... here

Fuchsia is Not My Colour

If you dared to look, what would you find in the dark recesses of your closet? Would you find the sequined scarf your Great Aunt bought you, the Pokemon tie from the kids, the frumpy sweater with a cougar applique gifted by your BFF? Remember the feigned joy, the forced smile, the hand on your heart and the I-Just-Love-It cry? Not surprisingly, it is estimated that more than $15.2 billion is wasted on unwanted gifts each year in the United States alone. Of this 43% is unwanted clothing and accessories. I know. Merry Christmas.

Unfortunately, a majority of these items end up in the landfill long before they are worn out. ...

For more information, click ... here.

Water Stewardship in Alberta

Letter sent to Nathan Neudorf
13 December 2021

...

In summary, these three issues are interrelated. Water stewardship means: supporting strong federal legislation that protects our water; protecting our water from the threats of industrial contamination from coal mining in the province; and protecting the integrity of the natural environment upon which our tourism, recreation and our agricultural economy rely. Comprehensive land-use planning and cumulative effects management are strongly recommended to ensure the abundance and availability of clean water. Water is the lifeblood of southern Alberta and there are limits to its use and misuse. 

For more information, click ... here.

Sent to the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada
8 December 2021

Comment on Montem Resources’ Tent Mountain Redevelopment Project

The Southern Alberta Group for the Environment (SAGE) requests that the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada establish a Joint Review Panel to evaluate the environmental impacts of the proposed Tent Mountain Redevelopment Project.  

An environmental impact assessment on the Tent Mountain Project should consider the following: ...

For more information, click ... here.

An open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau from 200 conservation,
environmental and social justice groups with hundreds of thousands of

supporters in Canada on the opening of the 44th Parliament

From the letter:

... We must put in place stronger actions to cut greenhouse emissions. And we
must deliver a comprehensive plan — with timelines and targets — to halt and

reverse nature loss by 2030 and bring nature to full recovery by 2050.

Your platform commitments to establish new protected areas, reverse nature
loss, support Indigenous-led conservation, and restore and enhance wetlands,

grasslands and peatlands offer a strong foundation, and resonate across the

platforms of other major parties. To be effective and meaningful, implementation

of these commitments needs to advance climate action, biodiversity conservation,

Indigenous rights and social and racial equity. ...

For more information, click ... here.

Water Management a Key Issue in Municipal Election
Published 09 October 2021 The Lethbridge Herald (link)

Candidates for election to municipal office in southern Alberta are well advised to consider the future of water use for the communities they represent and for the environment. A summer of rapidly melting glaciers, extreme heat, little to no rainfall, and low river flow resulted in water shortage advisories, declared states of agricultural emergency, cut-off of water to irrigators, and curtailed recreation experiences for canoeists and fishers. More drought stress is predicted as climate changes. Nonetheless work is proceeding on the “single largest irrigation expansion in Alberta’s history” in the absence of public consultation and environmental impact assessment.

The $815 million agreement among eight irrigation districts, the UCP government and the Canadian Infrastructure Bank to expand irrigation agriculture by 15 per cent in the Bow and Oldman river basins was announced in December 2020 as a done deal.

For more information, click ... here

Voters need to make the right choice for environment.
Published 25 August 2021 The Lethbridge Herald  (click here)

The first international effort to understand the impact of releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere from the burning of oil, gas and coal was published in 1990. Over thirty years later, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change continues to publish the synthesis of climate research based on the efforts of thousands of scientists worldwide. The latest report continues to tell the same message as previous ones, only with much greater clarity. It’s not looking good. ...

For more information click ... here.

Nathan Neudorf's letter muddies the waters.
Published 19 August 21 The Lethbridge Herald (click here)

I agree with MLA Nathan Neudorf’s opening statement in his Aug. 13 column from the Legislature that “in southern Alberta water truly is one of our most precious resources, and its safety, protection, and allocation are a key priority for all of us.” Unfortunately, the rest of his column muddies the waters.

The column fails to clarify that the Oldman River Basin Water Allocation Order (Order) its name does not apply to the entire Oldman River Basin but only to a reserve of 11,000 acre feet of water upstream of the Oldman reservoir from the upper Oldman, Castle and Crowsnest rivers. Water was reserved under the Order in 2003, just prior to closure of the entire basin to further water licences, as compensation to municipalities in the headwaters for flooding of agricultural land and other impacts from construction of the Oldman River dam. ...

For more information click ... here.

Environmental Sustainability for Lethbridge
Submitted to the Lethbridge Herald July 2021

Lethbridge has recently passed a new Municipal Development Plan (MDP) to direct decisions for the community into the future. One of the six main aspirations in the MDP is to be an environmentally responsible city, and this aspiration is well-reflected throughout the plan.

As an environmentally responsible city, Lethbridge would consider the natural environment as a foundation for life, culture and economy. ...

For more information, click ... (here)

Decision Statement from Minister Wilkinson on Grassy Mountain Coal Project ... declined.

"After careful deliberation and review of available and relevant information, which includes the Joint Review Panel’s Report, the Minister concluded the project is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects under CEAA 2012. The Government of Canada has determined those effects are not justified in the circumstances and therefore, the project cannot proceed."

Decision Statement (click here)

Response from Minister Wilkinson on Tent Mountain Designation
28 June 2021

The Southern Alberta Group for the Environment (SAGE) requests that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change designate Montem Resources’ Tent Mountain Project for an impact assessment under section 9(1) of the Impact Assessment Act, SC 2019, c28, s1.

The Tent Mountain Project should be designated for a federal review because: ...

Original Letter: (here)

Response: Download here ...

Alberta Coal Policy: What’s the hurry?

Published in The Lethbridge Herald (here)
19 June 2021

The UPC government has created a committee to make recommendations towards a new Coal Policy for Alberta. This committee is expected to complete their evaluations by November this year. Considering that it took four years for the government of Peter Lougheed to develop the 1976 Coal Policy, and that Steve Allan’s inquiry has been allowed at least two years to investigate ‘unAlbertan activities’, it seems absurd that something as complex as a modern Coal Policy can be completed by autumn.

And what’s the hurry?

For more information, click ... here.

SAGE submission to the Coal Policy Committee
June 9, 2021

Download here ...

Getting Serious About Global Warming and Climate Change

Published in The Lethbridge Herald
04 June 2021

The Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act (Bill C-12) recently passed second reading in parliament. Though the science of climate change has been well established since the 1980s, and the first consensus report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was published in 1990, there has been little achieved globally to meet the necessary zero-net-emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. This is also reflective of the Canadian response, as we have neglected to meet any emission targets these past three decades. We are speaking here of a ritual of failure.

What does ‘net-zero’ really mean? 

For more information, click ... here.

Albertans Want to Know How to Manage the Demand on Limited Water Resources

Published in Lethbridge Herald
13 May 2021 (link)

Editor: The UCP government’s “sector by sector approach to economic stimulus” (Lethbridge Herald 30 April 2021 MLA Neudorf presents party’s sector-based approach for economic recovery) is out-of-date, and out-of-step.

It is this narrow focus on promoting one industry absent a broader land use, environmental, social and public interest context that made Alberta a petro-state and has brought the current frenzy of opportunistic proposals for coal exploration and extraction in our Eastern Slopes.

Thankfully many Albertans think more broadly.

For more information, click ... here.

Time to Step Up and Protect Our Water

Published in The Lethbridge Herald (Link)
28 April 2021

The government of Peter Lougheed implemented the Coal Policy after substantial consultation and expert review over a period of four years. They decided to restrict coal development in the mountains. Their conclusion was that the Eastern Slopes were vital to the economy and the well-being of human population because this region was the primary source of clean water for the province.

Minister Nixon assures Albertans [Government Will Continue to Protect Alberta’s Water, Lethbridge Herald, April 17, 2021] that the water is being protected and that the rules remain unchanged. This assurance is difficult to reconcile with the numbers.

For more information, click ... here.

Oh, the wonderful things about green bins

Published in the Lethbridge Herald
22 April 2021

Lethbridge residents: You and I produce a lot of garbage, more than the national average. But we don’t have to; half of what we dump into a giant hole next to the Oldman River north of town is useful organic material that could become compost. 

But what’s the big deal? Why should you, dear citizen of Lethbridge, care about putting organic materials like banana peels or your lawn clippings into a big hole? 

For more information, click ... here.

Metallurgical Coal – What is it good for …?

Published in The Lethbridge Herald
24 March 2021

The eastern slopes region of Alberta is the source of the headwaters providing fresh water for wildlife and prairie communities living downstream. It has been a highly desirable destination for tourism and year-round recreational activities like camping, hiking and skiing, attracting residents and revenue. Despite vague assurances from the UCP government, allowing coal mining along the eastern slopes is still very much under consideration.

We have become more aware of the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal methods of coal extraction –risk to endangered wildlife, noise, air pollution and water pollution – but we haven’t heard much about greenhouse gas emissions. There is the perception being circulated that ‘metallurgical’ coal is somehow different and less damaging to the environment compared to ‘thermal’ coal. This is not the case.

For more information, click ... here.

March 16, 2021

To: The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

RE: Federal Review of Montem Resources’ Tent Mountain Project

The Southern Alberta Group for the Environment (SAGE) requests that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change designate Montem Resources’ Tent Mountain Project for an impact assessment under section 9(1) of the Impact Assessment Act, SC 2019, c28, s1.

The Tent Mountain Project should be designated for a federal review because ...

For more information, click ... here.

Response from Minister Wilkinson (Download here ...)

It's our river, but who gets the water?

Published in, Lethbridge Herald
25 February 2021

Water should be a top priority for everyone living in semi-arid southern Alberta. How much do you know about our water supply? Most of us know that residents of Lethbridge pay the city to pump, filter and chlorinate water from the Oldman River so that it flows from our taps on demand. We pay for it, so it’s ours, right? Nope. Technically, the water belongs to the crown and we are water ‘users’, not ‘owners’. Over many years, our government has developed rules for sharing this limited resource. With minor exceptions, you need a license to take water out of the river. Currently, in an average year, 68 percent of the Oldman River’s water is allocated for diversion. Since at least 50 percent has to pass into neighboring Saskatchewan, we often rely on water stored in reservoirs from the previous year.  A series of dry years means water shortages for license-holders. This has important consequences for us and the health of our environment.

For more information, click ... here.