The City of Selkirk is the newest member of Manitoba Environmental Industries Association (MEIA), an organization dedicated to supporting those whose economic goals are in lock step with sustainability and the advancement of a circular economy.
Last month, MEIA Executive Director Jack Winram and Industry Workforce Development Manager Melissa Dorota came to Selkirk to tour the city’s old and new Wastewater Treatment Plants and learn more about Selkirk’s sustainable development policies, practices, and unique environmental projects. A tour of Gerdau – the city’s largest employer, province’s largest recycler and the hub of Manitoba’s steel industry – was on the agenda as well.
Winram was impressed.
“When I think of Selkirk I think about the mill and recycling of metal. It’s an example of a long history of business enjoying success in a circular economy. Today Selkirk community leaders have positioned themselves to not only embrace the concepts of circular and sustainability but put this into action by working with industry to thrive in a growing green economy,” Winram said.
“Then they kick it up a notch further with policy and investments in infrastructure that position the community as one of the greenest communities I am aware of. It’s good for industry, it’s good for community and it’s good for the environment. A win-win all around.”
Selkirk is the greenest community
Edward Suzuki, Selkirk’s Economic Development Officer, organized the day tour that had city staffers CAO Duane Nicol, Director of Sustainable Economic Development Tim Feduniw, Manager of Utilities Raven Sharma, and Manager of Climate Action and Environmental Services Kayla Dawson meeting with the MEIA connections to tell the story of Selkirk’s green efforts.
“There are lots of good things going on in Selkirk and we wanted to showcase it all to MEIA,” Suzuki said.
“And they were excited to come and see what we’re up to here as well. From the city’s side, we also were interested in hearing where MEIA is coming from, what their role is and how we can work in partnership to move environmental industries forward in Manitoba.”
Winram’s assertion that Selkirk is the greenest community is backed by Gerdau’s significant presence and commitment to circular economy and by countless city initiatives that make Selkirk a better steward of the environment and increasingly, a place where clean industries want to be.
Nicol said the city is working hard to be a leader in sustainable economic development and the membership in MEIA aligns with that.
“The sustainable economic development vision that we have for Selkirk, the work that we’ve been doing to attract green tech and support businesses that want to build a more circular economy to reduce their ecological impact makes membership in MEIA a logical move,” Nicol said.
“This is where the world of business is going so we see this as a growth industry. The MEIA representatives toured some of the sites where we’re bringing green firms or firms that are focusing on environmental returns, as well as economic returns, into Selkirk. Our efforts are geared toward making Selkirk the Manitoba hub for that kind of industry and the green jobs it generates.. With the infrastructure and policy choices that we are making here in Selkirk, businesses can lower their environmental footprint just by choosing to locate here.”
Wastewater treatment plans provides the best protection for the waterways
The city’s wastewater treatment plant is a centre of excellence and shining example of Selkirk’s talk the talk and walk the walk commitment to improved environmental practices.
The $39 million plant is state of the art and treats effluent to a higher standard than provincial regulations. It can handle Selkirk’s present-day population and up to 11,000 more without significant modification.
And, if regulations change in years to come, the city will still likely meet the standards without costly retrofits or new construction.
The plant’s Membrane-Bioreactor Treatment process provides the best environmental protection for the Red River and Lake Winnipeg and produces an exceptionally high quality of effluent. A bottle of effluent treated at the plant is as clear as a bottle of water from your tap and meets the same quality standards as well.
“With our new plant, we are able to transform a former waste product, effluent, into a valuable commodity that can be used for other things. Our reclaimed water, or re-water as we like to call it, can generate some new revenue for our utility to keep rates lower for citizens and offer industries with water as an input, a cost-effective alternative to using drinking water,” Nicol said.
“It’s clearly a plant designed for the modern world that ensures storm surges don’t overload systems and contaminate the environment,” Winram said.
“Another example where city planners and engineers designed with sustainability and environment in mind.”
Becoming known for green industry attraction
Selkirk’s work to attract those who embrace making environmentalism something that is commercially viable has taken hold.
In June, the city entered into an agreement with Charbone Hydrogen Corporation to bring the province’s first green hydrogen regional hub to the city.
Charbone will establish a facility that will produce and distribute green hydrogen. It will be built on land west of Selkirk’s decommissioned wastewater treatment plant and will eventually use re-water from the city’s new treatment plant and will provide residual oxygen to the city’s wastewater treatment process, creating a circular water economy.
The city launched SelkirkNow.ca, its Sustainable Economic Development website, last November and it received high praise from those who worked behind the scenes to make sure its arrival on the internet highway was impactful.
With the tagline ‘The city where sustainability is a verb’, it brought eyes to the page and had content that kept them there and brought them back time and time again.
Suzuki is on MEIA’s organizing committee for its upcoming Emerging Issues Cleantech Conference – Clean Technology, Pathways to Net Zero. It will be the largest environmental cleantech conference Manitoba has ever hosted with an expected attendance of 600. The City of Selkirk has been invited to present on a number of topics to share the work being done in the city. Suzuki says it’s a great opportunity for the city to bring attention to its efforts and make connections with aligned industry and business leaders. The conference takes place Nov. 30 at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg.