Leading The Way in Saskatchewan on Renewable Energy

May 26, 2017

Dear Editor,

In response to your May 24th article “Regina councillors return from Vancouver”, about Regina Councillors seeking to make our city use more renewable energy, I’d like to point out that Regina presently produces no solar electricity on public buildings. This is frankly outrageous since Regina’s solar resource is the best in Canada among major cities. The Federal, Provincial, & Municipal governments, and even the University of Regina all produce 0 Megawatt hours (MWh) of solar electricity for the SaskPower grid in Saskatchewan. That’s 4.6 MWh less than I’ve personally produced with my solar panels, for SaskPower. If the City would spend only $20,000, they could surpass my contribution within a year.

Saskpower is on track to miss their “50% renewable electricity by 2030” target mentioned in the article. 71 MW more fossil fuel electricity is planned to go online than renewable electricity in the next 4 years in Saskatchewan. That leaves a significant shortfall to hit 50%, with no plan as of yet being delivered to explain how the Crown Corporation intends to make it up.

I’m eager to see if City Council is willing to put its money where its mouth is, and stop making me look so good by comparison.

John Klein
Regina, SK

Regina Wins Award For Mediocrity

City completes planned project in under a decade. Wins award from local board that was less inspired by literally everything else (not) happening.

In a province where the SaskParty leads, this is what can happen:

It’s not a bad project, just not award-worthy. And I’m concerned RCE will give Councillor Hawkins another chance to justify calling Regina enviro-friendly. To give an example of how not friendly Regina is toward our environment, some of our latest bike parking infrastructure was installed in the 1990s (and is removed each Winter to inconvenience Winter cyclists). More recently a small rack showed up in front of Vic’s Tavern.

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Regina Recycling Oxymoron

Why is Regina a laggard city?

“A new report shows Regina lags behind several other Canadian cities and regional municipalities when it comes to waste management.”

“Municipal Benchmarking Network (MBN) Canada’s 2015 performance measurement report examined the efficiency and effectiveness of services provided by 16 municipalities, 11 of them in Ontario.

The report found Regina diverted the lowest percentage of residential waste at 17.8 per cent. Only 0.25 tonnes of residential garbage was diverted per household in Regina – the lowest amount among the municipalities.”

Regina is charging people for recycling on a utility bill. Maybe it’s time to charge for garbage and make recycling “free” part of other taxes. This was advised against by Darren Hill of Saskatoon, who points out this could contaminate the recycling stream as people try to avoid putting actual trash into their brown bins. Yet Regina is sucking with the current system, so something else must be tried.

Saskatoon City Planner on Environment etc.

Here are the key quotes, as I see them, which also directly apply to Regina and its thinking.

It can be awkward, going from a small city to a big city. And by the time we get done with the 30-year plans, we’re going to be a big city. We’re going to be half a million people. So all of the things we’ve done for the last 100 years has all been manageable in a small city way, like our transit system, like the way we plan neighbourhoods, like how we design our road system. And how we relate to the region had all been pretty much stable for the last 60 years or so.

Those things are all changing and we can’t ignore it. They’re just coming at us. We will have to deal with it. …

Transit — that’s another one. It’s a big one. We have a small city transit system. It has to evolve or it’s just going to fail. It’s starting to fail already. When you have buses congested in traffic, there’s no way anyone can keep a schedule. If you can’t keep a schedule, nobody’s going to use it. Four per cent of the population. It might go down from there. Who knows? But why would you use transit?

Under the radar for a while, but everything eventually percolates to the top: Homelessness. Homeless counts are going up. They’re not going down. How that’s being addressed is kind of behind the scenes here.

…Although roads will continue to be built, we can’t rely on the automobile as much as we are — 1.1 drivers per car is our average. So that’s one person in a car driving all over the place.

…You see a lot of cars driving in and out, so we’re using our cars an awful lot. Maybe we’ve made it too convenient to do that and I think that’s true because we’ve been able to, but you can’t continue that.

I think environmentally, we need to pull up our socks a little bit. We’re lagging behind in some respects. We just brought in recycling in the last five years. So we’re not exactly leading in any great way.

…We have an awful lot of sunshine here and I don’t know why solar hasn’t taken off. While not being too unkind to our Saskatoon Light & Power folks — they do a wonderful job — but that should be an energy company. Maybe it’s time to cut the tie with SaskPower and maybe generate, create energy and sell it.

#YQRcc Thinks You Need No Additional Rights

Our City Council is being awfully stingy with your rights. They don’t think you should have a right to a clean environment, so are delaying a non-binding commitment to support the Blue Dot movement calling for a Canadian constitutional change. They are literally more concerned with the supposed costs to the City, than about your health and safety.

Regina members of the Blue Dot movement, which is seeking to get the right to a healthy environment added to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are frustrated by delays at City Hall and councillors wanting more information on what they consider a no-brainer.

Six months after the local chapter of the Blue Dot movement called for such action, and for the city to pressure the provincial and federal governments to recognize this right, too, administration has reported back that it wants to do more research on the matter.

“At this point, what further information is needed?” asked Blue Dot organizer Kelly Husack at Wednesday’s executive committee meeting, stressing that the declaration is non-binding.

She added that “one should not pretend this motion matters to Regina City Council if it does not.”

It doesn’t matter to most Councillors, obviously. And that is shameful for Regina.

Friend Jim on Radio for Heroic Water System

Consider that Regina and area is prone to droughts that can last more than a decade. The last century has been mercifully wet.

Jim Elliott’s living off the Regina water grid in Broder’s Annex. He’s buying drinking water (brought by cargo bike), but his other water needs are met through efficient rainwater use.

Back To Blue Dot

Adding to earlier discussion about the Blue Dot movement’s appearance at City Council last month, there’s an article by Fingas in the Leader Post.

Paul Dechene also unloads on Council’s hypocritical messages sent by their focus in the meeting.

…our city council postponed signing onto a declaration saying that a healthy environment is a human right because they needed to get a report from administration about the possible implications from being party to such a declaration. You know how it is, signing on to a non-binding feel-good doc like that isn’t something you leap into recklessly.

…fleet additions he argued against.

Too late.