CORNER BROOK — Corner Brook is a leader in the province in building a green community, according to its mayor.
Neville Greeley identified the city’s goals to minimize adverse environmental impact, integrate sustainable policies, improve working and living environments and foster a culture committed to sustainability Wednesday during a Coastal Matters presentation at Grenfell Campus of Memorial University.
Following the presentation to primarily students, faculty and staff of the university, the mayor said Corner Brook is also at least on par with many areas of the country in terms of being a green community.
Greeley identified initiatives such as curbside recycling, its pursuit of city hall as the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and reducing the number of garbage bags people can put out as inaugural measures for municipalities in the province.
“I would say Corner Brook is a leader in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador,” he said. “If you transpose that onto a national scale, we are in the same category.”
Green initiatives continue to be a focal point in city plans or implementation of new infrastructure.
“We, as a community, want to establish what it is we want to be when we grow up, basically,” he said. “We have been here for 57 years and, at the end of the day, Corner Brook has changed drastically from its early years. We have to really strategize where we are trying to get to.”
With the city leading the way in green thinking for quite some time, it has become a destination for certain professionals and families, according to Greeley.
“People, in this day and age, are looking for quality of life more so than they are looking for salaries, for example,” he said. “I know a number of professionals who have come to Corner Brook strictly because of the quality of life they can have.”
Throughout his presentation, the mayor discussed environmental initiatives such as recycling, water and sewer treatment, its commitment as partners for climate change protection, water conservation, and establishing green spaces.
The audience asked a number of questions, with Grenfell Campus Student Union vice-president external Glen Keeling continuing criticism of a recent hot topic in the city — the transit service. With the city contemplating the future of the system following a one-year trial — which the mayor referred to during Wednesday’s address as staggering, in a negative sense — Keeling asked what role public transportation plays in growing a sustainable community and what steps council will be taking to increase ridership.
“It is one thing to say city transit reduces greenhouse gas, and it does in places like Toronto where a million people a day are using transit,” he said. “In Corner Brook, we have buses that are driving around Corner Brook empty, which is doing nothing for greenhouse gas but adding to it.”
Greeley reiterated there is no easy fix to the transit system situation.
The mayor was also asked about the wastage of water in the city. The student said he would like to see people stop spraying down the sidewalks, while Greeley used the example of people spraying down their lawns to reduce snow in the spring of the year.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, people are spoiled when it comes to water, the mayor said. Residents are not billed for their water consumption.
“It’s an education piece,” he said. “Hopefully we can avoid the utility process, but there may come a time when we have no other choice.”