Environmental best practices matter to a city, Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender says.
Environmental impacts are basically at the forefront of everything in the day-to-day operation and future considerations — both large and small — of a municipality. Those best practices must support changing demographics and social, cultural and economic future of that community.
“Everything we do, we look at that sort of thing through that lens,” Pender said prior to speaking publicly at the Coastal Matters presentation Tuesday.
Sustainability is considered through things as simple as what light bulbs are installed in offices to the use of hybrid vehicles to large-scale projects such as the construction of city hall. It is implemented in operational activities such as technology in the city fleet to continuing to offer a transit service and maintaining and improving green spaces and recreational opportunities.
“All of those are concrete manifestations that we have enacted to say we have to do better to protect our environment, and that we have to lead by example as well,” Pender said.
Corner Brook has been a leading municipality in the province on green initiatives such as recycling. The city offers unique services such as Christmas tree and leaf mulching. The mayor said that is not just testament to the commitment of a municipality, but of the people within it.
He has seen a significant change in attitudes toward such initiatives in the past decade or more. It has changed from concern about the cost and effort to taxpayers to a strong desire for additional and expanded initiatives.
“In many cases, it is not seen as a cost anymore, but as an investment or savings,” he said. “Whether it is a savings economically or whether it is just saving our planet for future generations, there seems to be a gradual shifting attitude about how we do things better, greener and more economically sound for our city and, eventually, the planet.”
While answering a call from residents to do more, Pender said it is also important for the community to do its part. The city is finalizing a new water treatment system. The operating cost of that system largely depends on the consumption of water, so users must adopt a new attitude toward conservation, he says.
“There is going to be a significant cost to treating each litre of water that goes through,” Pender said. “We are going to be talking about reducing the water that we use, which also reduces the amount of chemicals we use and energy we use, and, at the end of the day, reduces costs to taxpayers.”
The city is also facing a substantial waste water treatment project. They are now monitoring outfalls to see where exactly the city’s effluent places them in the priority scale set by the federal government in terms of when the disposal of waste into the ocean must be eliminated.
Eventually, the city will be faced with a waste water project the mayor estimates will be in the vicinity of $50 million. While the city has a plan in place, the need for significant federal and provincial funding will be required to implement it, said the mayor.
“We are not talking one-third dollars here,” he said. “There is no way the City of Corner Brook can take on another $20 million debt for that infrastructure.”