Smoky River Regional Economic Development
It is hard to argue against climate change.
Experts seem to agree its happening, but were people differ is in what exactly we should be doing about it.
The Alberta government has taken an aggressive stance on what we as a province will do, evident from the budget and the implementation of a carbon levy.
While it is essential that the government establish policy that impacts all Albertans, it is also essential that they look within themselves to see what the government can do internally to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and thereby lead by example.
In the years that I worked for the Alberta Government, I lived in Peace River but had to frequent Edmonton where I also had an office. I would drive down to Edmonton, park my car at the hotel and then I would either walk or use public transit to go to my meetings and my office.
Every year the rural municipalities and the urban municipalities have their provincial meeting in downtown Edmonton.
And every year the Premier, the Ministers and the MLAs from all parties attend portions of the meetings. And every year, they all get in their own vehicles and drive down and back.
Perhaps it’s time that the leaders of the province start using public transportation. I used to use the LRT in Edmonton to go back and forth all the time. It was faster and saved time looking for a parking spot. It was efficient, friendly and green.
I would also propose that the government take away all staff parking from any Government of Alberta worksite (and remove any parking subsidies to ALL government workers), to ensure they walk, ride their bike or use public transportation.
The government employs some 30,000 people. Imagine the impact to our environment if we can pull 30,000 vehicles from the road everyday. The other benefits from this is it would make public transit profitable, it would reduce the need for parking spots and address the issue of urban sprawl, and in the case of hospitals, it would free up parking for patients and visitors.
The government cannot dictate that their employees cannot drive to work, but by removing any incentive to drive, may be enough to sway some to do their part. Some will argue that this will take more time and yes in some cases for employees that may need to drive to two or more government offices, it may. But from my years in the government and my own experience, I didn’t find that to be the case.
And in the case of the provincial elected leaders, well, how can they justify not leading the way by example.
At the very least, the Premier, and the ministers (most certainly the Minister of the Environment), should be required (and should want to) drive hybrids or electric cars. They all presently receive reimbursement for mileage.
If necessary, the government could buy them their cars and eliminate the mileage cheques. The cars would be paid off very quickly.
For employees in rural areas, well they may need to drive to town, but by forcing them to park outside of prime areas, again frees parking spots at government buildings for customers, you and me.
In today’s economy, we are seeing massive job losses, that is unless you are a government employee, then your job is pretty secure. That’s a pretty good place to be right now. I appreciate the government not wanting to create more unemployment by reducing staff, but operational costs need to be addressed.
Employees are likely grateful for their jobs and so shouldn’t mind minor inconveniences like losing a parking spot.
Looking internally on how to reduce costs and promote carbon reduction should be key. Another example is the overuse of electricity by the government.
Do all the lights have to be on in a meeting room drenched by sunlight?
Why not install motion detectors for all hallways and bathrooms, so the lights are only used when needed? Require all Ministers to use manual push lawnmowers at home (I do). And stop the grass and leaf collection and enforce mulching.
I am not an environmental specialist, just a taxpayer who does my part at home. Let’s expect our leaders to do the same.