Category: environment

Glass recycling back from the dead in Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lakers can continue recycling glass products after all.

The Town of Sylvan Lake recently learned their recycling depot contractor would no longer accept glass products due to “non-existent global markets.” Residents were asked to stop placing glass items in their blue carts and to instead place them in black carts to be land-filled.

The announcement led to discussions amongst Town staff and residents regarding glass recycling options. A resident on social media suggested contacting a nearby town who had recently resolved their glass recycling issue.

Through contact with the Town of Innisfail, administration was directed to B.C.-based United Concrete & Gravel. Arrangements with the company were made to remove glass from the Sylvan Lake Waste Transfer Site as required.

There is no formal agreement in place and either party can opt-out of the service at any time.

United Concrete & Gravel does not offer curbside glass collection, meaning residents will be required to bring their glass products to the Waste Transfer Site for no-charge disposal. A second glass drop-off bin is expected to be placed at the west-end recycle depot located on 60 Street at the dog park. The Waste Transfer Site drop-off has limited hours of access, but the west-end recycle facility has 24-hour access.

“Although drop-off bins involve more effort from the public, it is a viable alternative for environmentally conscious residents to recycle glass products rather than land-filling,” Operations Manager John Watson explained in a report to Council.

Additional drop-off bins may be added at other locations as necessary for public convenience. Glass recycling is expected to begin within a few weeks once the bins are in place.

United Concrete & Gravel has been using crushed and filtered glass as sandblasting material for over 20 years and says the Alberta oil industry is a significant user of their product.

Although the recycler does not charge for the glass tippage, there is a charge to the Town for transporting glass to the facility in Quesnel, British Columbia of $60 per tonne. The current cost to the Town for landfilling glass is $135 per tonne, while the previous cost for recycling glass was $169 per tonne.

The Town generates about 12 tonnes of glass per year which will realize an annual cost savings of about $1,000.

The drop-off bins at the west-end recycle depot is expected to cost about $5,000 per year for a total net increase cost of about $4,000 per year, which Watson says the recycling operating budget is adequately funded to cover.

(With file from Town of Sylvan Lake)

Wetlands throughout Red Deer to see half million dollars in upgrades

Red Deer’s volume of wetlands will see a surge in the coming years.

On Monday, city council carried a resolution that will see The City keep $504,000 it would otherwise owe to Alberta Environment & Parks.

In accordance with the Alberta Water Act and Alberta Wetland Policy, municipalities must pay up every time they develop over wetlands, which The City did in the Queen’s Business Park area in 2017.

Those funds, which have historically also gone to Ducks Unlimited, would fund future wetland replacement.

There is a provision The City is taking advantage of — and only recently found out about — which allows it to keep the money and spend on wetland development within its own boundaries.

Councillor Michael Dawe, who also represents the Red Deer River Watershed Alliance and Red Deer River Municipal Users Group, says The City has a history of giving plenty of attention to its wetlands.

“Have there been wetlands lost over the last 100 years? Of course, but The City of Red Deer is also very conscious of preserving certain areas. Leading examples include the Michael O’Brien Wetland Area on the edge of the Michener Centre site, and another one is the Piper Creek restoration project where a number of things have been done to preserve the ecology there,” Dawe says.

“Gaetz Lakes — those are two oxbow lakes from the old bends of the Red Deer River. Back in 1922, local citizens applied for it to become a dominion bird sanctuary, then in 1950 it was designated as a wildlife park, and was more recently was incorporated into the Waskasoo Urban Park Project to make sure it had permanent preservation.”

Kelly Kloss, Director of Development Services, says staff will talk with stakeholders and then make recommendations to council for where the half million dollars should be directed.

“The City continues to look for opportunities on how we can enhance Red Deer as a whole,” Kloss says.

“While Ducks Unlimited was a very good body to utilize the money, often it was utilized outside the city.”

Lacombe County celebrates official opening of the Kuhnen Natural Area

On Tuesday, Lacombe County officially opened the Kuhnen Natural Area to the public.

Located on the eastern side of Lacombe County, the public space features 65 acres of land running along the north side of the Red Deer River.

“The gift of this land from the Kuhnen Family exemplifies the importance community residents place on managing green space for the betterment of current and future generations,” said Reeve Paula Law. “We appreciate this priceless gift from the Kuhnens, and are proud to protect these lands, for everyone to come out and spend time in nature.”

Local long-time residents Frank and Rosalie Kuhnen generously donated this land to Lacombe County, who will ensure the area remains in a natural state for the public to use for passive recreational purposes.

“Our family has thoroughly enjoyed using this land,” said Frank Kuhnen. “We wanted to share the beauty of this natural area with future generations, so they can experience nature first hand, as we did.

During the grand opening event, attendees enjoyed a barbeque, and tours of the area by local naturalist, Tim Schowalter, who showed people the geology and plants/animals in the natural area.

The Kuhnen Natural Area, found along the north bank of the Red Deer River, is one of the newest additions to the County’s inventory of parks and natural spaces. The 65 acres of forested land offers lookout points onto the river valley and a trail that leads down to the water. The Kuhnen Natural Area is located south of Alix and can be accessed from Range Road 23-0, south of Highway 11.

This is also the second piece of land that the Kuhnen family has generously donated to the County. In 2015, the Kuhnens donated 140 acres of land north of Blackfalds on Lacombe Lake – aptly named Kuhnen Park, which features trails, including an access to a section of the Great Trail (formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail) that runs between Lacombe and Blackfalds.

Skiing incident at Castle Mountain claims life of Lethbridge man

PINCHER CREEK – RCMP from the Pincher Creek, Alta., detachment are investigating the death of a skier on Mount Haig near the Castle Mountain resort in southwestern Alberta.

Police say the 22-year-old man from nearby Lethbridge, Alta., fell down a rocky slope early Saturday afternoon after he was hit by loose rock. They say two other skiers and some hikers attempted first aid.

Police and local emergency personnel were soon dispatched to the scene, along with an Alpine Helicopters crew out of Canmore.

But police say the young man, whose name was not immediately released, died on the mountain.

Police say members of the man’s family were on scene as the helicopter crew along with rescue technicians from Alberta Provincial Parks and Waterton Lakes National Park completed a difficult long line recovery of the body.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is working with police in investigating the incident.

(The Canadian Press)

Scottsville Group set to open new Subaru ‘passive house’

Doors are set to open next week on a new one-of-a-kind Subaru dealership in north Red Deer.

Described as a ‘Passive House,’ the new certified Scott Subaru dealership at 6801 50 Avenue is said to be the only one of its kind in the world and built to a rigorous standard of efficiency.

Garrett Scott, Owner and Chief Operating Officer for the Scottsville Group, says staff will be moving in this weekend.

“We’re just bringing in the tools and certain pieces of equipment that we need and basically filling the offices up and we’ll be ready-to-roll Monday,” he explains.

Scott says ‘passive’ is much different than conventional building.

“It’s basically an impenetrable outer-shell that the building has and acts much like a thermos does where it keeps what it wants to keep inside and utilizes a fraction in order to heat and cool the building,” he explains. “It also utilizes heat recovery ventilation systems as opposed to furnaces and AC units, so that more air is just circulating more frequently basically.”

Scott says the new Passive House is a great step towards long-term sustainability and pairs well with their Subaru brand.

“A lot of times in dealership builds, they’re built to be oblivious, I would say, to the long-term costs of operation as opposed to what we’ve done here,” adds Scott. “The size of this building (14,100 sq. feet) lends itself well to doing a unique project and we wanted to do something where we’re not going to be soaking ourselves in costs down the road just because we went with the cheapest way to build right now.”

Aside from the hassles of moving, Scott says staff are excited for their new digs.

“We were busting at the seams at our old facility, so this new facility, albeit not huge, has more than enough space than we need right now. This is all of our staff, so this is anybody Subaru trained from the new and used vehicle sales and parts and accessories and right to our technicians.”

Scott says the new Subaru Passive House allows them to be a lot more accommodating to customers and have greater capacity with increased convenience.

“More service bays with more ability for parts storage and with a bigger presence, we’re able to stock a bit more and provide customers with more selection,” says Scott. “But also I think with the way we built it and the motivation behind it being an efficient project like this, we’re trying to differentiate ourselves from other dealerships and even others I operate within our own group. We’re hoping that the customer experience in here is just as the building – completely unique to everything else.”

Scott says the facility’s opening sends the message they’re not just trying to be green, but now have that ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ mentality.

“Why should we be consuming more energy if we can build our buildings smarter?” asks Scott. “Why should we be making the customer purchase experience more difficult if we can just work hard and invest in the right technologies or do things differently that help us identify trends and help us utilize all of our efficiencies to improve our level of service for everybody?”

Scott anticipates an official grand opening sometime in September.

Alternative landfill operations in Drayton Valley

Efforts to extend the life of the Aspen Waste Management Facility in Drayton Valley have taken another step forward.

On June 12, council passed a motion directing Administration to pursue an agreement with Aerobic Landfill Technologies Ltd for the construction of an aerobic system in conjunction with the current operation of the Aspen Waste Management Facility.

According to Town officials, the agreement should also contain conditions the commitment is subject to the availability of grants or other funding opportunities and that VP Engineering will assist the Town with grant pursuits and a preliminary design concept.

Councillor Bill Ballas says the Town’s landfill is nearing its life expectancy and by implementing the proposed technology of an aeration system, it will speed up decomposition and eliminate leachate and methane, making the landfill more sustainable.

“Existing cells can be utilized and remaining materials can be mined or stably stored,” he explains. “This technology also has the potential for the Town to generate revenue from the different opportunities that it presents. This technology is very innovative and budget numbers will be presented for year 2020.”

At the end of 2018, the Town issued a Request for Information (RFI) on Alternative Landfill Technology seeking options to extend the life of the Aspen Waste Management Facility.

Six submissions were received and two companies were invited for a follow up interview. Aerobic Landfill Technologies Inc. (ALT) and BioMass Innovations Ltd. (BioMass) each presented their proposals to staff and Council.

Outside of the RFI process, a third company, Fogdog Energy Solutions Inc. (Fogdog), also presented their technology solution. Fogdog has formalized plans with the Town of Sylvan Lake to construct a No Landfill Disposal facility in that community and is currently waiting on approval from Alberta Environment and Parks to proceed.

Officials with the Town of Drayton Valley say the construction of one additional landfill cell is required however to manage the incoming waste while the aeration system is set up, adding the upfront capital investment needed and increased operating costs can be offset through the sale of carbon credits, grants and private investment.

According to Town officials, the Aerobic Landfill Technologies proposal includes a $5.3 million capital investment in the system, with an additional $1.1 million in capital for the construction of a new cell for use during the transition period.

According to Town staff, the annual operating cost of the system is estimated at $1 million on top of the current operating budget of $1 million. It’s noted however there could be savings on the operating costs with potential efficiencies of the operations.

Nova Chemicals wants to be part of plastic waste solution

Nova Chemicals says it wants to be part of the solution to the problem of plastics in the environment, saying that action by industry, government, communities and consumers is needed to create meaningful change.

“Canada has the opportunity to take a leadership position by improving how plastic waste is managed and by investing in new solutions,” the company said in a statement that comes after the federal government announced on Monday its plan to single-use plastics in Canada by 2010.

“Plastic products add great value to society, making everyday life healthier, easier and safer, but they do not belong in our environment,” Nova Chemicals notes. “We support the government as they work on the science to better understand the implications of plastics in the environment in and we welcome the opportunity to be a part of the conversation to develop solutions that create a world free of plastic waste.”

Nova Chemicals says they have invested in two major global initiatives they say reflect their commitment to being part of the solution.

Last year, the company joined Project STOP which partners with cities around the world to build sustainable water systems and end ocean plastic leakage.

The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a non-profit organization of which Nova Chemicals is a founding member, has committed $1.5 billion over five years to help “make the dream of a world without plastic waste a reality.”

Nova Chemicals says it is also innovating and collaborating throughout the value chain to develop products that can be more easily recycled and to develop new structures that include recycled materials.

Environmental groups protest drilling rights sold near Great Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY — A coalition of environmental groups gathered at the Utah State Capitol on Tuesday to protest the auction of oil leases on nearly 10,000 acres on the northwest side of the Great Salt Lake.

The auction, conducted online, sold all of the available leases to the same developer, identified only as “Bidder #2” for $2 an acre. That price allows extraction rights on the land for ten years.

“Elected leaders in Utah continue to double, triple, and quadruple down on fossil fuel development even though it’s more evident than ever that right now we need to take action on climate change,” said Ryan Beam of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Those opposed to the measure said the Bureau of Land Management wants oil companies to drill west of the lake, in and around the foothills of the Hogup Mountains, which they argue will damage historic artifacts, disrupt migratory birds, and harm other wildlife in the area.

Protest planned at Utah State Capitol to oppose proposed drilling near Great Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY — Environmentalists will gather at the Utah State Capitol Tuesday to protest oil and gas drilling near Great Salt Lake.

Several groups are opposing a Trump administration plan to auction off nearly 10,000 acres of public land for drilling.

Those opposed to the measure said the Bureau of Land Management wants oil companies to drill west of the lake, in and around the foothills of the Hogup Mountains, which they argue will damage historic artifacts, disrupt migratory birds, and harm other wildlife in the area.

The protest begins at noon at the steps of the Capitol. Fox 13 news will update this story as more details emerge.

Utah man runs Peruvian coast, cleaning up and spreading environmental awareness along the way

PERU— In Peru, Clayton Thomas Kearl is known as “gringasho”.

“It’s Peruvian slang for someone who’s white, so ‘gringo,’ but ‘gringasho,’” Kearl explained.

He has become a social media star with millions of Peruvian followers, and he has a mission to make the country he fell in love with a better place.

“I put the campaign in Peruvian slang which is called ‘chapa tu basara,’ which is ‘pick up trash.’ Yo, pick up your trash,” Kearl said.

His love for Peru started when he served a mission there for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“You’re sent at 19. You live in dirt roads with no running water and under a tin roof. You get a really big punch in the face of what real life is,” Kearl said about his LDS mission.

He realized real life in Peru means throwing your trash anywhere you like.

“They have garbage trucks in most municipalities, but mostly when a family has trash they put in a grocery sack and just throw it outside their house,” he said.

So, he launched a clean-up campaign.

“I’m trying to change the culture,” he said, “For them, it’s really normal to eat something and throw it in the street.”

He’s running across the country, along the coast, to create environmental awareness and organizing trash pickups with his followers along the way.

“Things you take advantage of being from a really clean, awesome city in the United States first world,” Kearl said.

Kearl’s not exactly sure what his future holds, but he knows that giving back to this country he loves will be part of it.

“For the rest of my life, I will have my hands — whether I’m living in Utah or living in the United States or living here — I’ll always have my hands, as they say, ‘[in] the cookie jar,’ down here in Peru,” Kearl said.

His journey can be followed on InstagramTwitter and YouTube.

He also has a Kickstarter to fund his campaign that can be found HERE.