Sackville Town Council pushed to include more action on climate change in 2022 budget

Councillor Sabine Dietz

Climate change was a key theme Monday night as Sackville Town Council met to discuss preliminary proposals for next year’s budget.

“I know this is an emergency and not just a crisis,” said Councillor Sabine Dietz after suggesting that the town has not been taking climate change seriously enough in its budget planning.

“We can’t push this off,” she said. “Last year was a write-off because of COVID and I accept that, but it is really our responsibility to make the future safer for our kids and for our grandkids.”

Dietz added that the town has to act now.

“I don’t want climate change action, it’s a must, we don’t have a choice,” she said.

She noted that although proposals for next year’s budget would allocate $25,000 for climate change initiatives and $95,000 for an electric vehicle charger, there’s no overall plan, for example, to offset the effects of road paving or heavy equipment purchases or no plan to extend the town’s climate change co-ordinator beyond next September.

She suggested establishing a $100,000 climate contingency fund paid for by re-directing gas tax money, paring back other projects and if necessary, cutting the allocation for an electric vehicle charger.

“If we don’t take responsibility for moving the bar, supporting action and committing to action throughout our budget, then we are not doing enough,” she said.

“Basically, it’s time to put our money where our mouth is.”

Roundtable review

Dietz echoed many of the suggestions put forward earlier in the meeting by the Mayor’s Roundtable on Climate Change, which gave a 23-minute presentation led by retired wildlife biologist Richard Elliot, Kirsti Mrazek, the town’s new climate change co-ordinator, and Mount Allison Professor Barbra Clayton.

Elliot noted that the Roundtable first reviewed the town’s capital budget two years ago using a “climate lens” summarized in a slide he showed to council:

Elliot reported that the Roundtable came up with four “overarching recommendations” after meeting last week with town staff:

    • Adopt a policy to convert town vehicles to electric and hybrid ones
    • Provide climate change awareness sessions for all town managers and staff
    • Publicly highlight efforts taken by the town to minimize the effects of climate change
    • Redirect next year’s $756,445 in federal gas tax money from road re-surfacing to financing such green projects as electric vehicle charging stations, bicycle lanes and trails as well as developing a water retention pond in the old Pickard Quarry and financing road re-surfacing using other parts of the capital budget

Among other suggestions, Kirsti Mrazek recommended that the town design a “low-slope parking lot” at Lilas Fawcett Park along with a catch basin or gravel settling strip to reduce sediment run-off into Silver Lake; incorporate grass buffers and trees to provide shade and consider installing nearby crosswalks for pedestrians and cyclists.

Barbra Clayton congratulated the town on its decision to purchase an electric Zamboni to clean the ice at the Civic Centre and recommended using it to advertise climate initiatives and attract sponsors. She also suggested replacing the town’s 1999 street sweeper with an electric or hybrid model that could be rented to or shared with other communities.

One of Clayton’s slides showed an electric fire pumper truck:

“We were excited to know that there is an electric pumper truck available in Canada,” she said, adding that at the moment, its $1.6 million price tag is “a bit prohibitive.”

She said that maybe the town could consider buying a hybrid model or other low-emissions alternatives perhaps with financial support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Clayton noted, however, that the Roundtable did not have a chance to discuss its proposal with Fire Chief Craig Bowser.

Councillors weigh in

Councillors Bill Evans and Sabine Dietz thanked the Roundtable presenters for their ideas and research.

“When we passed the motion in 2019 saying we should set up [the Roundtable], this is exactly what I was hoping that we would get,” Evans said.

“You push us to do the right thing, you’re smart enough to acknowledge that we’re already starting to do the right thing and so, that’s great, but that’s not enough, you have to keep pushing,” he added.

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11 Responses to Sackville Town Council pushed to include more action on climate change in 2022 budget

  1. Percy Best says:

    That is indeed quite a fire truck. There is only one in Canada, one in Dubai, Los Angeles and Berlin to name some of the very few cities that can afford it. The Canadian one is at the new Brampton Ontario Fire Training Center and it is not assigned to a station. It has a battery powered range of 10 km for the base model and 30 km for the more expensive unit with the maximum amount of batteries that it can carry. When the battery juice runs out then the diesel engine would cut in to hopefully get it to where it is headed. And once the battery is dead the diesel generator is needed to run the pump itself. At $1,600,000 it doesn’t sound like the best way to spend taxpayers money. Neat toy though!

  2. Carol Cooke says:

    Am I correct that there are at least two electric car chargers at our town’s Visitor Information Centre? (Do we have any data on how often each day they are used?)

    Is it really necessary to spend $95K to install another one at Town Hall? Would this just be for optics to make our Town Hall look green? Not many of us have electric vehicles yet and I think that this huge amount of money could be put to much better use by implementing the two ideas outlined by Kirsti Mrazek, Sackville’s new climate change coordinator.

    I heartily support her two suggestions:

    1) Design and build a “low-slope parking lot” at Lilas Fawcett Park along with a catch basin or gravel settling strip to reduce sediment run-off into Silver Lake

    2) Incorporate grass buffers and trees to provide shade and consider installing nearby crosswalks for pedestrians and cyclists.

    Let’s put off buying more electric car chargers for a few more years.

    Does anyone else share my opinion?

  3. Janet Hammock says:

    Yes, Carol, I sure do share your opinion about the wisdom of installing more electric car chargers at this time. I know of no one who is postponing buying an electric car because the Town Hall does not have a charger! Like many of our friends, we are postponing this smart purchase because the electric cars must come down in price before we are able to afford one. So let’s wait on another charger until there begins to be a demonstrated need for additional chargers.

    Like you, I would support using this $95K to implement the two projects suggested by our new climate change co-ordinator.

    I was delighted to hear Sabine’s push for long-range budget planning in matters of climate change. Long-range planning, in addition to the shorter range plans, is absolutely essential. Thanks for this, Sabine!

    • Andrew Black says:

      Just to clarify, this charger would not be located at Town Hall… would be located somewhere downtown. The location of where it would go has not been discussed at this point but there has been some talk about a possible “business share” type of situation.

  4. Dodie says:

    Has the charger at the VIC been repaired yet? Last I heard, a while ago, it was not working and they were waiting for repairs.

    I agree that another charger at this point in time is not a wise expenditure. I suspect that the proposal is related to the proposal to replace Town vehicles with electric vehicles? But until that becomes a reality, there are surely a lot more projects that would be beneficial to the town and its residents.

    I do NOT agree that money should be redirected from road re-surfacing and repairs.

  5. Gerrie Baycroft says:

    What about improving our waste removal system to include recycling and composting in multiple dwellings (apartments etc.). The public receptacles on Main Street already separate, so it must be partially happening.

    • Andrew Black says:

      Garbage pick up is done through the Southeast Regional Service Commission and the Town pays that bill each year so that citizens can have garbage removal. It does not include apartments, businesses, other commercial and institutions. There is an increased tipping fee charged to landlords/business owners/etc. that have dumpsters that are not separated…..over 2x the amount of a tip that would be separated properly.

      Town Council passed a resolution which was then sent to the UMNB (which was voted on and passed) to direct the UMNB’s executive director (and other parties) to lobby the Provincial government to ban recyclables and compostables from landfill dumps Province wide. This will put this issue into the Province’s hands and then we will stop seeing so much garbage go to landfills that doesn’t have to.

      • Alan Barbour says:

        Currently businesses can not recycle or compost. The waste removal companies will not take sorted waste from us, we have no choice but to put it all in the same dumpster where it goes to the landfill. This is not an issue of business paying more, we offered, they will not take separated waste.

        Here is what Miller Waste has told us (Black Duck) when we ask about recycling / composting:

        “Unfortunately, we don’t have enough demand to send separate trucks for collection of recycling and composting from businesses in Sackville at this point as it is not mandatory for commercial waste to be separated. Once the municipality makes it mandatory we will certainly offer these services as all businesses will need to do it.”

        “It would have to be in the ball park of 50 dumpsters. Each stream of waste would require a separate truck. We’ve tried a few pilot projects in the area and at this point it would mean 3 bins on each property and 3 trucks to service the 3 separate streams.”

        As a business owner who has moved from a municipality that sorted all this out in the 1990s, it’s very discouraging that it’s 30 years later and Sackville hasn’t even started the process.

  6. Here is a great solar-powered alternative for a lot of our land care machinery.

  7. Bfree says:

    This town burns more oil and wood than I have ever seen in any other place I have lived. Wood is not environmentally friendly it releases a ton of carbon and particulates into atmosphere….there is a wood stove or fire place in almost every home here…if not, it is oil or some other fossil fuel. Cutting down tress, our natural carbon sinks for fire wood, is also not environmentally friendly. Everyone here drives a pick up truck…..So why are we even wasting time on this climate change discussion when on a individual level there are so many more impacts being produced. I certainly don’t expect every citizen to change how they live but I also don’t see the point in the town wasting money on it given how almost everyone here currently lives.

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