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Healthy Foundations Matter: Environmental Well-Being

Climate change is real, and our city needs to be a leader in climate resiliency. Our summers are hotter, our winters colder. The extremes are becoming nearly unbearable. The smoke coming from forest fires throughout western Canada is becoming a common occurrence in the summers. Increasing powerful weather systems are bringing the 1-in-100 year storm more often. We hear of streets and basements flooding in older neighbourhoods that weren’t built to handle these types of storms. Are we a city prepared to deal with climate change in 2021 and 2031 and 2041?

After lengthy consultation with our businesses, a single use plastics ban goes into effect on January 1, 2022. Local businesses understand they too play a part in reducing waste. We have an excellent waste management program with garbage, compost and recycling well established here in the city. We can do more to use our compost bins and we have to work with other levels of government to create more opportunities to decrease our waste.

Currently, our waste is buried in landfills- not an ideal situation. Our recycling is shipped overseas, often creating environmental disasters there rather than truly addressing recycling. Closed-loop recycling needs to be considered. Waste-to-energy for the region needs to be explored further. The provincial government has to implement “Extended Producer Responsibility” (EPR) in the province, putting the costs (physical or monetary) of recycling on those that create the product rather than on the municipalities, who bear the costs now.

Environmental wellness is a process that involves learning about and contributing to the health of the planet. This involves establishing a sustainable lifestyle, protecting natural resources, and eliminating pollutants and excessive waste.  Environmental wellness also includes having respect for and awareness of your surroundings and playing an active role in your community.

https://iwellness.uwo.ca/environmental/index.html
Erin Stevenson in the sitting on the edge of a garden in the community gaden

We act now so that we can continue to enjoy the wonders of our natural systems here in Spruce Grove. We have amazing trails that meander through our beautiful parks and neighbourhoods, near storm ponds, through Heritage Park and near environmentally sensitive areas. Our city is green and we want to keep it that way. A lot of effort has gone to creating a city that blends with our natural systems. We don’t want our residents to have to leave the city in order to enjoy nature. We want to live within it.

And opportunities abound. More community gardens, orchards, edible fruit trees planted around the city (free food), naturalization processes around storm ponds and ditches and more. The city has a responsibility to maintain a system that works for all of us. New developments can change the way a wet area of the city drains so we have to consider all the impacts development, and the types of development we allow, so we are not exacerbating existing concerns or creating new ones. Development and the environment is a very complex issue.

The environment is a key pillar to what we do and how we do it going forward. Environmental well-being is one of give aspects that make up our community’s well-being. As a resident and a member of council, consider the following:

  1. Climate Resiliency– You believe in climate change and understand the impacts human activity has had on the environment. You are committed to doing your part, even if it’s just small change at a time. You conserve water and energy. You recycle and compost.  You minimize your waste.
  2. Natural systems- You understand the use of storm ponds but appreciate the nature it attracts. You see the impact climate change is having on our systems and agree with maintaining a system rather than fixing broken ones. You see the complexity that is our storm system— sewers, ponds and ditches and the work it takes to maintain them. You understand the number one natural disaster threat to us is fire. You understand why we don’t use harsh chemicals on fields to fight weed as we learn to change our way of thinking of lawns, and plants and naturalization efforts.
  3. Delight and enjoyment- You love our parks and trail systems and enjoy the beauty found amongst our neighbourhoods. You’re impressed with the community garden and would like to see more. You understand that planting edible fruit trees means free food for those who might not be able to afford it. You love trees- all the trees! You delight in nature and appreciate the work gone in to creating and maintaining these natural areas. It bring you joy knowing this is in the city you live in.