One of the five pillars of our Community Strategic Plan is being better Environmental Stewards. This means thinking differently and finding ways to reduce our environmental footprint on the Earth.
Here are 10 ways the City of Selkirk is continuing taking action:
10. Our award-winning Climate Change Adaption Strategy.
The strategy that leads the way. Initiated in 2018, Selkirk’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy provides a comprehensive, practical and cost-effective plan for the city to begin working towards addressing the impacts of climate change on our municipal services and our citizens. By integrating this work into our capital asset management program, we’re using leading practices to quantify, plan, budget and actually undertake the work required to adapt over the next 50 years
By understanding how changing weather patterns and climatic conditions will impact our citizens and our infrastructure, the strategy guides the decisions we will make over the next ten years to ensure we’re mitigating risk and reducing negative consequences. Science tells us that we are in for more extreme temperatures and storm events. Over the next 50 years we will invest millions in new infrastructure and our strategy ensures those dollars are spent in a way that makes us more resilient and better prepared for the future climate we face.
This strategy is so ground-breaking that, in May 2019, the City won the Canadian Network of Asset Managers’ prestigious Tereo Award for leadership and innovation in asset management.
9. Doing it once, doing it right by CAMPing.
In 2014, the city began working on the creation of a Capital Asset Management Program. Capital Asset Management is an innovative practice that allows municipalities to better catalog, track and manage their assets. Using predictive modeling techniques, long-range maintenance planning, paired with long-term financial planning tools, capital asset management allows cities to get the most out of their infrastructure, extending its service life and helping to make better, more cost-effective construction and renovation decisions.
Infrastructure that lasts longer and requires less repairs means we use less natural resources and generate less greenhouse gases for construction and maintenance. All of our projects are driven by our asset management program. Check out our largest project of 2022 – Eveline Street Reconstruction
8. Right-sizing and fuel-switching our fleet!
40% of the greenhouse gases we produce comes from our fleet of city vehicles and equipment. To achieve our GHG reduction targets, we know that we must reduce the amount of fossil fuels our fleet uses. To do that, we are taking the opportunity to rethink each and every vehicle when it’s time to replace it. We ask three key questions – do we really need that vehicle? Does it really need to be that big? And can it be replaced with a low or no fossil fuel alternative?
We passed our GHG accountability By-Law in 2021 and while the city had been doing much of the work already, the bylaw made the work that we do formal.
The bylaw does three important things. First, it mandates the tracking and reporting of Selkirk’s corporate and community GHG emissions using internationally recognized standards.
Second, it sets new GHG reduction targets that are consistent with the global effort to keep the climate increase to just 1.5 degrees or less.
Finally, it establishes a financial framework which clearly and transparently ensures the city can actually meet the targets that have been set.
As city fleet vehicles age out, they are replaced with hybrid or electric ones and that’s why you’ll see Manager of Public works, Ryan and Manager of Recreation Facilities, Travis driving Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV). Ryan says that while driving within city limits, the vehicle is running almost exclusively on electricity and cutting his fuel usage by 66% . This translates to a savings of over $1,750 and reduces GHG emissions by 4.9 tons – and that’s just in one year! Because of the high-praise and cost-savings. The city also now owns two Hyundai Kona’s (fully electric vehicles) for staff to use rather than their personal gas powered vehicles. Calculations for these are still in the works but it’s bound to be an impressive reduction of GHG’s.
2022 will see the purchase of two more electric vehicles and the installation of the city’s first public charging station.
What else is electric? Our ice resurfacer, our electric chain saw, electric weed wackers and ice edgers.
In 2019 we also purchased a hybrid bus for our transit fleet to replace an old bus.
As more electric options are available for our fleet, expect them to replace their fuel-only counterparts as they begin to reach their end-of-life.
7. Look Good, Feel Good
To become environmental stewards, we had to take a look at everything the city puts its logo on, literally. As a large employer, we looked at the uniforms we buy and thought….we can do better. Beginning in 2018, the city began considering the environmental impact of the materials our uniforms and city issued clothing. Today – almost all of our uniforms are made from recycled materials and we continue to look for better options for the rest.
This also includes the clothing we sell and the promotional items we give away. While all the profits from our sales go straight to the Parks and Heritage Endowment Funds, we have made every effort possible to purchase Canadian and sustainably-made clothing, or products that will stay out of the landfill and are recycled from post-consumer materials.
We’ve purchased clothing to sell and for our staff made from recycled pop bottles and upcycled materials. We sell reusable water bottles, tumblers and coffee mugs to keep waste out of the landfill. We even purchased biodegradable doggy-bags so citizens can clean up after their pets and we’re always adding more stuff.
6. Powering our Buildings with Green Energy
It takes a lot of energy to power our buildings and facilities. In fact, powering our buildings contributes to the majority of the greenhouse gases the city emits. To reach our commitment outlined in our Greenhouse Gas reduction plan, we looked for more energy-efficient ways to power and heat our buildings.
2015 saw geothermal upgrades to the ice plant at the Rec Complex and in 2019, the city replaced a natural gas heating system at the Water Treatment plant with a geothermal system. The city’s new Wastewater Treatment Plant opened in 2021 and is fossil fuel free! Decarbonizing both facilities accounts for about 31 per cent of the city’s total emissions.
The innovative geothermal system has the capacity to expand and meet the heating and cooling needs of all of our buildings – so when the time comes, the remaining systems can be replaced so the building will be completely emissions free.
5. Trees – Our Most Important Assets
Trees are some of our most important assets. That’s why we’re making an active effort to document the trees in Selkirk and diversify the kinds of trees we plant. We just hired our first Urban Forestry & Naturalization Coordinator who will be responsible for the city’s urban forestry and naturalization programs
such as planting, pruning, and evaluation of trees and plants.
Diversifying our urban forest is an integral part of keeping it healthy. After Dutch Elm Disease took its toll on the elm trees in Selkirk, we made a more conscious effort to plant various native species of trees that will last as long as possible. Our Tree Inventory Project saw staff identifying and categorizing all the trees in city parks and boulevards, making our inventory more resilient to disease and aiding us in so many ways:
- Trees provide shade, keeping people cool
- Reduce the need for air conditioning in homes and businesses
- Cost effectively retain and manage storm water that reduces the stress on our wastewater system
- They reduce erosion on the banks of the Red River
- Reduce air pollution
- Sequester carbon
- Naturally calm driving speeds
- Enhance property values
- Promote biodiversity and just look great!
4. First Energy Advocate in Manitoba & we now have a Manager of Climate Action and Environmental Services
We were the first municipality in the province to receive funding for an Energy Efficiency Advocate who worked with residents, businesses and the city itself to become more energy efficient, a win for the environment and your bank account.
The Community Energy Efficiency Program, set out in the new Crown corporation Efficiency Manitoba’s approved 2020-23 Efficiency Plan, offers financial and technical support for municipalities to hire and train an Energy Efficiency Advocate.
The role of the Advocate was to identify energy-saving opportunities in the community and encourage participation in Efficiency Manitoba’s energy efficiency programs, ultimately leading to reduced energy consumption and lower energy bills. The program supports local economic development as it relates to energy efficiency and is set to begin this summer.
Just recently, the city hired our first Manager of Climate Action and Environmental Services who will be responsible for fostering an understanding of environmental decisions that impact the City of Selkirk, its residents and property owners. The Manager of Climate Action and Environmental Services oversees the delivery of Solid Waste, Selkirk Transit, Active Transportation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation services and implements improvements to these services.
Welcome to the team!
3. Making Transportation Options More Public and Active
An easy solution to get people to use less fossil fuels is to get them to drive less. Easier said than done, but we are trying to give our citizens every opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint and live a healthier lifestyle and that’s why we developed and started putting our Active Transportation Strategy into action in 2021.
In 2018 we started Phase 1 of our active transportation pathway that stretches from Easton Dr. to HWY 9. 2019 saw an expansion from Eveline Street straight up Manitoba Ave all the way to the west end. This year we are extending the pathway down Eveline from Eaton to Queen street right into Selkirk Park from the gate to the campground so pedestrians no longer have to share the roadway with vehicles.
Getting from North to South will be a breeze once the city installs it’s first bike lane running the whole span of Selkirk on Mercy.
We also are investing in our sidewalks by replacing large sections that are at their end-of-life, and making smaller repairs and repairing trip hazards internally.
Selkirk Transit has been providing riders a greener transportation option for over 10 years now. Beyond the hybrid bus purchased in 2019, the City plans to purchase an electric bus for its next replacement anticipated to take place in 2023.
2. Sewers and Stormwater Need to be Separated
Sometimes it’s hard to even fathom, but there are thousands of metres of sewage pipes underneath our streets. A lot of these sewage pipes are combined sewers, an old system where both stormwater and sewer systems are merged into one pipe. While this tactic can be cheaper for developers, in can be very harmful to our waterways. And now with more high rainfall events, they’re known to be a big reason why your basement may flood as well.
When there is a high rainfall event, the combined sewer system sometimes can’t handle that amount of water. Instead, the excess water either floods into your basement or is spilled directly into the Red River. By separating the sewer and stormwater systems, this drastically reduces the chance of your basement flooding, and ensures the sewer water goes to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, not the Red River.
1. Our State-Of-The-Art Wastewater Treatment Plant
As of 2017, new provincial regulations require that treated wastewater contain no more than 1 mg/L of phosphorus and 15 mg/L of nitrogen. The existing plant built in 1976 reached the end of its life cycle and could not meet these regulations and renovating that facility was not a cost-effective solution.
Our new Selkirk Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant was completed in 2021 and is now fully operational not only meeting, but exceeding provincial regulations today and well into the future. It also has the capacity to allow for Selkirk to grow for many years to come. The effluent is so clear, it’s almost consumable and that’s essential as we want to be part of the solution of polluting our water ways and keeping the Red River and Lake Winnipeg clean for future generations.
Did you know, the plant is a center of excellence attracting students and leading research?
Not only will the plant not use fossil fuels for heating, but it’s been designed to be solar ready. 2022 will see a solar array installation.