Environment

The environment is the highest priority for most of our citizens, according to the 2017 Community Satisfaction Survey. There is a reason we have branded ourselves the “Botanical City”. However, there are always things we can do to improve our city, and our environment.

Big Lake

Big Lake is perhaps our most important ecological resource. Sturgeon River runs through it, and it is now designated a World Heritage Site. We have our dedicated, local BLESS group, who have supported and preserved this beautiful area. Parks Alberta is also beginning to manage areas under its control. But the city, alongside the province have not supported it nearly as well as they should. The viewing platform has fallen into disrepair, and most likely will need to be replaced. I want to help preserve Big Lake for future generations, through long term plans for maintenance, in co-operation with the provincial government and other municipalities.

River Valley

Sturgeon River is the centre, the showcase of our beautiful city. We have to keep it clean, and beautiful. That means continuing our River Valley Clean-Up days, and maintaining the trails and park-space around its banks. And it means preventing the pollution of the river by individuals and businesses.

We should not build in its flood plains, as some have suggested. We have seen, in recent years, what can and will happen to a community that builds on flood plains. Especially with climate change, we need to consider how important flood plains will be to buffer rising waters.

Wildlife

Being a botanical city, we need to protect our local wildlife. Since I was little, I was educated to keep a distance from wild animals, to live and let live. Tragedy can strike when wild animals are not respected. We need better education about our local wildlife to protect those species that make St. Albert a diverse ecosystem.

I also support the concept of a wildlife corridor through our city. The corridor should enable safe passage through populated areas, along traditional routes needed for the survival of a species. We need to minimize our impact on the natural trails wildlife need to migrate and survive. Wildlife corridors have been effective across Alberta and BC, and around the world. Providing safe passage around populated areas protects wild species, and the people who live there.

White Spruce Forest

In 2011 the City obtained the White Spruce Forest and dedicated it as an Historic Natural Area, renaming it the “Grey Nuns White Spruce Park”. This was spurred on by a local group of environmentalists concerned about the future of this historic forest, including my grandfather, Dr. Peter Murphy. The environmentalists and the city formed a committee, and developed a management plan for the park.

Now the committee and city have started to rejuvenate the area, by planting new spruce, and maintaining the old-growth spruce trees. I want to continue this good work, and make sure it gets the attention it deserves as both an historic site, and as a part of our wildlife corridor system.

Clean Energy

Recently, Council amended the Land-Use Bylaw to permit “Solar Collectors”. I want to expand the information campaign by providing information sessions and advertisements for local contractors who install Solar Panels. In addition to solar, I want to improve access and knowledge about clean energy sources in St. Albert, including geothermal and wind power.

Solar power in residential areas has dropped in cost by 80% since 2011 alone, and is down from an average cost of $50,000 in the early 2000s, to about $15,000 now for a grid-tied system. The cost of solar panels has reduced so much that now most of the cost is the installation labour. With the new subsidy from the provincial government, homeowners should be able to generate enough energy to make the system pay for itself in ten years, on a system designed to last at least twenty-five, but with an expected lifetime of up to forty.

Having clean energy is our future, and a future that is coming fast with the onset of climate change. The “Botanical City” should be a leader in clean energy implementation.