Watch above: Saskatoon businesses weigh in as UN climate summit begins in NYC
SASKATOON – Saskatoon’s government and residents need to do more to curb the city’s environmental footprint, according to a local environmentalist.
“The city needs to really turn its attention to implementing a plan that will cut emissions sharply in the decade ahead,” said Peter Prebble, the Saskatchewan Environmental Society’s director of environmental policy.
Prebble would like to see city hall focus on a number of issues, including bike lanes, an energy standard for new buildings and fines for idling cars during certain months.
However, he said he’s encouraged with the city’s progress on recycling and a landfill emissions project.
“I think Saskatoon Light & Power has taken some good steps but it really needs to accelerate those steps now.”
The city may be taking some of those steps in the near future.
Kevin Hudson, the manager of metering and sustainable electricity for Saskatoon Light & Power said the service is looking into both hydro and solar energy.
“That could provide enough power for about ten per cent of our customers,” said Hudson about the potential projects.
“But we’re not bringing these projects forward until we can show they will earn a profit over time.”
The city has already implemented a renewable energy initiative at its landfill.
It takes gas emissions from its contents and turns in into power for roughly 1,300 homes, according to Hudson. He added that the project reduced the city’s emissions by the equivalent of removing 9,000 vehicles from the road.
“We’re very happy with the operation,” said Hudson, who noted that the facility could double in capacity as the landfill expands.
Besides government initiatives, some Saskatoon residents have taken matters into their own hands. Brian Sawatzky owns the Confederation Inn on Fairlight Drive and has added multiple solar panels to the roof of his hotel over the last five years.
“I firmly believe that global warming is a real issue and I wanted to do something about it,” said Sawatzky, who explained that between 10 to 20 per cent of his electricity comes from the panels.
“My water use is down by over half, my natural gas is down over 50 per cent and my electricity use is between 50 and 60 per cent.”
Sawatzky has made multiple changes to his property to become more environmentally friendly, reducing his utility bills by $120,000 a year. He added that he’s yet to earn back the money he’s spent on those changes but expects that to change in the coming years.
Saskatoon Light & Power said 27 customers have connected their own solar energy units to their properties.