Friday, June 6, 2014

Taking action to protect land, air and water

In 1989, when the Mayor’s Environmental Expo was created, environmental education was in its infancy. The Expo helped educate a generation of citizens who are more eco-literate than the generation before them. To honour that, this year’s special 25th anniversary Expo theme is The Difference a Generation Makes.

Anna Murynka, Environmental Programs and Services student, has participated in several Expos, first as a young student and as a volunteer educator. Last summer, Anna worked for Waste and Recycling Services as a Summer Educator and will join The City in the Environmental Initiatives group this summer.

Her experience in the Expo as a student was not just fun, but planted the seeds for her future career. “Doing research and taking photos for the photography competition were initial inspirations for my decision to study Environmental Design.”

The Expo has grown, as has The City of Calgary’s own list of environmental ‘firsts’. Calgary was the first Canadian municipality to adopt a sustainable building policy and a wetland conservation plan. When it comes to reducing emissions, from 2002-2005 Calgary was the first city in North America to install flat lens streetlight fixtures, saving $1.7 million a year in reduced energy consumption. The City is also the largest municipal buyer of renewable electricity in Canada.

In addition to our curbside recycling through blue cart collection, other programs like the Leaf and Pumpkin Composting and the Christmas Tree recycling program allow millions of kilograms of compostable materials to be used in our parks and green spaces.

It is important to work together to protect our limited resources for future generations.  In 2003, The City set a 30-year plan to decrease water demand.  “We don’t want to take more water out of our rivers in 2033 than we did in 2003 – even with the population growth,” says Sylvia Trosch, Team Lead, Citizen Programs in Water.

The difference that twenty-five years has made to our environmental performance in Calgary can be seen in The City’s environmental programs and services, and in the young faces, who thanks to educational opportunities like the Mayor’s Environment Expo, will always grow up understanding the importance of protecting our environment.

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