Monthly Archives: July 2009

Enhancing Edmonton: Embracing Microgeneration

At a quick glance, Federal and Provincial energy policy might seem extraneous to the mandate of Better Edmonton. But as we contemplate the future of our city, energy policies created at other levels of government will have serious implications . Though the Oilsands developments in Northern Alberta draw most of the negative attention from health, environmental and conservation groups with regard to Alberta’s environmental policy, often forgotten is that one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide in our province actually comes from the method by which we generate our electrical power.
“Most of the carbon is emitted by coal-fired electricity generating plants.” – Premier Stelmach
In order to feed our cities’ ever-growing demand for energy, we need to look to the opportunities presented by renewable energy. Ontario recently passed North America’s most ambitious piece of economic and environmental legislation, which will dramatically increase the use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and kickstart the green energy economy. The main tools in this legislative toolbelt are a feed-in tariff; energy efficiency changes to the building code; and significant investment in the green energy economy, an added bonus that is expected to produce 50 000 jobs in ontario in three years.
Recently the Pembina Institute published a report, Understanding Canada’s Federal Support for Renewable Electricity, which noted that renewable energy investments worldwide had a record year in 2008 with over US $120 billion invested. Based on recent budgets, however, the United States will outspend Canada on renewable energy by a factor of almost 14:1. The document further compares incentives for renewable power in the US and Canada, notable as both countries are direct competitors for investment in renewable energy projects.

With peak oil and a climate crisis on our horizon, we have an opportunity to protect ourselves, our children, our economy and our planet by revisiting the way we use and produce energy. Micro-generation offers an alternative that could produce lucrative dividends for our economy, while reducing our cities carbon footprint and reducing the environmental damage done by (un)clean coal.
For more information on “Greening the Grid” Check out a recent report by the Pembina Institute:

Albertans are responsible for almost four times as much global warming pollution as the average Canadian. And close to 25 per cent of Alberta’s GHG pollution comes from its electricity sector. Given the urgent need to tackle global warming, it is clear that coal-fired power is becoming a liability.
Alberta’s renewable energy resource is vast. A new study by the Pembina Institute has found that Alberta could go from producing 70 per cent of its electricity from coal to 70 per cent from clean energy sources in just 20 years.
Using existing renewable energy technologies combined with industrial co-generation and energy efficiency, Alberta could satisfy growing demand for power. It would not need to build a single new coal-fired power plant and could start to phase out the ones already polluting the air.








Further information on the Ontario Green Energy Act from TheStar:


Greater Use of Renewables

The bill proposes enacting a feed-in tariff (FIT) with pricing that will hopefully generate more investment in renewable energy by offering investors greater confidence in the profitability of projects and increasing their access to funding. The FIT will be modeled after Germany’s successful policy.

In addition to the FIT, the bill streamlines the approvals process for renewable energy projects and provides service guarantees for them. It also establishes a “right to connect” to the electricity grid for renewable energy projects.

To support local communities, the bill offers measures to assist developers of smaller community-owned generation facilities and also implements a smart grid in Ontario, with the aim of making it easier for renewables to connect to the system.

Finally homeowners would have access to incentives to develop small-scale renewables such as low- or no-interest loans to finance the capital cost of renewable energy generating facilities like solar panels.

According to Dave Butters, president of the Association of Power Producers of Ontario, member companies of which have installed much of Ontario’s renewable energy facilities so far, the bill will ensure that Ontario makes maximum use of renewable energy.

“A ‘best-in class renewable energy feed-in tariff’ combined with streamlined approvals processes and service guarantees has the potential to help Ontario to leap forward in terms of renewable energy capacity,” he said.

Energy Efficiency Measures

Currently, Ontarians spend just over CAN $7 billion [US $5.6 billion] each year on electricity to power their homes. A 10% efficiency savings would mean CAN $700 million more in the pockets of homeowners across the province. To that end, if the GEA passes, it would help individual consumers, businesses and public institutions take steps to increase energy efficiency in their facilities.

The bill makes energy efficiency a prominent aspect of Ontario’s Building Code by requiring, every 5 years, a review of the efficiency of any given building to identify areas that might be improved through better energy efficiency technology. Further, it establishes an advisory council to provide energy efficiency advice to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

If passd, the bill would create the opportunity for consumers, public institutions and industry to better manage their energy use through various conservation initiatives, one of which may be the establishment of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver as the standard for new government-owned buildings.  It also would require the broader public sector, including municipalities, universities, colleges, schools and hospitals, to develop energy conservation plans.

In terms of household appliances and water use, the bill would require the use of Energy Star appliances as standard and require that households make efficient use of water. Homes would be required to have an energy audit prior to their sale, which some authorities say would put a “second price tag” on all homes sold in the province.

Local distribution companies would have mandatory conservation targets as well as incentives to help them achieve the targets. Ontarians living in low-income housing would also benefit from conservation measures targeted at that sector.

Green Economy

The proposed bill is estimated to create 50,000 jobs in Ontario in three years with its benefits sweeping across all communities. Employment will be in every sector,according to some analysts, from steel workers to lawyers, manufacturers and contractors.

Toronto-based Trillium Power Wind Corp., an offshore wind developer currently at work on a 710-MW facility in Lake Ontario, sees the plan as a step in the right direction.

“The Ontario government clearly recognizes that you need to make a long-term commitment to renewable energy in order to reap the economic benefits of a green economy,” said John Kourtoff, President and CEO of Trillium. “They are way ahead of the game on this, and Ontarians are going to significantly benefit from this transformational legislation.”

“Ontario’s Green Energy Act could propel the province past California as the most innovative North American leader in the renewable energy field,” contributor Denis Hayes, former director of NREL and founder of Earth Day.

“This is the sort of healthy, friendly competition between Canada and the U.S. that will leave us both better off.”


Community Supported Agriculture in Edmonton

 Already a fixture in Calgary (, community supported agriculture (CSA) ( is beginning to emerge in Edmonton. CSA’s essentially provide local farms with a dedicated clientele, in the form of individual households, that pledge to buy their produce directly. This provides the farm with cash-on-hand and provides the households with high-quality, locally grown food on a weekly basis.


Especially with such high-quality farmland in the NE section of the city, Edmonton has the potential to be a national leader in local food security. CSAs are an excellent first step toward creating a resilient local food economy. This will reduce the city’s environmental footprint as it relates to food production, create and sustain local jobs and, of course, put fresh, delicious, local produce on the tables of Edmonton’s families.


Check out (and sign up with!) two of Edmonton’s fledgling CSAs:


The Good Food Project (hurry, registration closes on July 6th)


Sparrow’s Nest Organics



Farming has been such a vital component of Edmonton’s history, wouldn’t it be fitting if it were a cornerstone of Edmonton’s future? 

Enhancing Edmonton: Big Box Retail?

This is a question asked by a Councillor and responded to by administration about the Municipal Development Plan. It’s publicly available here:

Big Box Retail

1.              In what way does further big box retail contribute to the vision and goals in our strategic plan?

Big box retail development is characterized by large sites on the periphery of cities where land is less expensive and provides quick access from major highways.  These developments are usually automobile oriented and not accessible via other transportation modes.  Big box stores and “power centres” are cheaper to build than enclosed shopping malls as they include no central spaces, features or services.  They impact communities because small businesses cannot compete with the high volume sales and low overheads of big box outlets.

Further big box retail development does not contribute to the vision and goals in the Strategic Plan.  On the contrary, further big box retail development perpetuates the trend towards urban sprawl and encourages and is dependent on more travel by private vehicle.    Maintaining strong vibrant neighbourhoods becomes more difficult when small commercial centres are forced to compete with the low prices that big box stores can offer. Diversifying Edmonton’s economy by encouraging independent entrepreneurs to set up business will not be successful if big box outlets are in competition. Big box development is the antithesis of high standards of urban design and best land use practices that are key to livable communities.  There are no public spaces in which a strong sense of community can thrive.  All these characteristics show how big box retail development is not in support of most of the elements of the Strategic Plan vision and goals.

Gordon Price’s excellent newsletter “Price Tags” deals with the issue of “Streets and Roads” in Issue 19.

This is particularly interesting in the context of South Edmonton Common. The $300 million 23rd ave interchange has shown us that the role of these auto-dependent, big box stores need to be re-evaluated as we consider what Edmonton will look like in the future.

Bike Swap – Mountain Equipment Coop – July 11

Mountain Equipment Co-op Bike Swap

Date: 9am – 11am, Saturday, July 11, 2009
Location: MEC parking lot (12328 102 Ave)

There will be a variety of activities including
·         A bike swap/chance to off load any bike related paraphernalia you no longer love (CASH only)
·         Some music to soothe the cycling blues away
·         Mechanic checks for bikes, to make sure your ride is a fine one,
·         A donation bin/place for you to recycle the bits that are not working for you (the donations will go to EBC)
·        AND information about cycling in and around the City of Edmonton.

For more info, contact Karly Coleman (MEC Sustainability Coordinator) at 780-488-6614, or

SEE – Edmonton News & Views – News & Views – The Debate That Keeps Going and Going

SEE – Edmonton News & Views – News & Views – The Debate That Keeps Going and Going.


After all, the city grew by 30,000 people this year and is expected to grow by more than a million within the next 40. That’s a lot of people, a lot of housing, and a lot of infrastructure to plan for. “We continue to sprawl,” says Williams. “It’s not sustainable from both a taxable point of view and an environmental point of view. If we develop inside the city, we already have infrastructure there.”  

“Redevelopment is complicated and challenging,” says Schroder. “We won’t simply open the floodgates to development.” Although Schroder is very much in support of redevelopment, he also insists that those on the other side need to be a part of the process. “They can’t be marginalized. They have legitimate concerns, but at the end of the day, we all have to work together.” 

Change is never easy. There is a great deal of nostalgia attached to the City Centre Airport too. But for the pro-shutdown group, what’s in store for the city in the next 40 or 50 years is a more pressing issue than keeping the low-traffic airport alive. The ECCA Lands Impact Assessment Results agree: by shutting down and redeveloping the airport lands, the city could gain 18,600 residential units, 23 hectares of commercial, transportation, and office space, and 24 hectares for NAIT expansion, not to mention $23.5 million in annual property taxes.”

Facebook | Next Gen Community Challenge

The EFCL and Edmonton’s Next Gen Committee are hosting a brainstorming session on how to get more young people involved in Community Leagues. It’s free, but you have to RSVP by emailing 

Facebook | Next Gen Community Challenge.


Next Gen Community Challenge

Join the conversation. Help build the community you want to live in!

08 July 2009
19:00 – 21:00
Orange Hall
10335-84 Ave
Edmonton, AB


You are invited to make your community vision a reality! 

Do you have ideas about how your community league could support you and others in developing a community movement in your own neighbourhood?

Join the conversation. Help build the community you want to live in!

Next Gen along the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL) invites you to a gathering of minds. Together we’ll share ideas about how community leagues can engage Next Generation Edmontonians in practical and meaningful ways.

When: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 from 7 pm to 9 pm

Where: Orange Hall (10335-84 Ave)

Join us for great discussion, wine and cheese and live music.

Cost: Free!

For more information contact Angela Hobson at

To RSVP, please email by Friday, July 3, 2009

Whatever your vision is for your community we’ll help you with the tools, contacts, and info needed to assist you as you create your own community league movement.

Not My Airport






Not My Airport.

I too watched the webcast of the council speakers and came to the same conclusion as Mack. As much as the Alberta Enterprise Group is trying to brand the city centre airport as your airport, the fact is most Edmontonians are dependent upon the International- that is our airport.

I can’t buy a billboard on 109th street, and I may not have been able to take off time to come and speak at the hearings, but I can vote with my keystrokes. Mack has provided a form letter online, but I would encourage everyone to add on their personal comments. Form letters garner form responses…

Go democracy 2.0

Dear Councillors,

 I am writing as a resident of our city and not in any work capacity.

Please close the City Centre Airport. I believe that this facility has served Edmonton well in the past but it is now limiting Edmonton’s potential. 

I am concerned that the ECCA is a poor use of real estate, close to the core of our city, that could be re-purposed into something more fitting with our vision for the city. I am concerned by the building height limits imposed and that the airport will stunt our future opportunities for a revitalization of downtown. Closing the airport will help keep my residential property taxes (which I pay through increased rents to my landlord) down.

I am inspired by the potential that our city has with this site and believe it is time to make the tough decision. In the long-term interest of our city, it is the right thing to do.

I would ask that we attempt to support general aviation outside of the city at other local airfields. Please do what you can to aid the small businesses that will be left out in the cold by this decision– would it be possible to provide some sort of financial assistance as they transition to new locations? In the interest of fast, efficient transportation for business executives and government leaders, we should re-open discussions with the province on a high-speed rail link to the airport.

Thank you in advance,


But let us not forget that this is not just about the closing of the #ecca. It is about ensuring that the site is home to Smart Growth TOD, POD, and GOD : Pedestrian Oriented Developments, Transit Oriented Developments, and Green Oriented Developments only apply. Pro-closure advocates must be ready to shift-gears if council closes the muni to ensure that all of the visions we have for a high to medium-density development adjacent to our core. This is an amazing chance to re-develop a section of our city that is a rare, and special opportunity. 

Garrison Woods in Calgary anyone?