Green Team plans, grant funding identified

The inaugural meeting of the Ponoka Green Team was held at the Scout Hall Sept. 19.

The inaugural meeting of the Ponoka Green Team was held at the Scout Hall Sept. 19. More than a dozen people attended, including representatives from business and industry, the Town of Ponoka, youth organizations, and concerned citizens. Several others, including our MLA, were unable to attend but expressed an interest in being involved in the future.

The purpose of the meeting was to explain the origins of the Green Team and its affiliation with Ponoka’s Earth Day project; provide information on what other communities are doing to reduce their environmental footprint; provide information on grants available to support community-based environmental initiatives; identify local environmental concerns/issues and ways to address them; and discuss the purpose of the Green Team, as well as its membership, vision and “next steps.”

Two sources of grant funding were identified: Ecotrust Community Grants and Environment Canada’s EcoAction Community Funding Program.

Examples of projects undertaken by other communities were provided, including creating idle-free zones (e.g. in school pick-up zones) to reduce motor vehicle emissions; promoting biodiversity preservation by installing nest structures, bat houses and other habitat structures; creating living wall gardens and naturescapes in unused/run-down spaces; and reducing the environmental footprint of households, business, industry and communities as a whole through environmental audit kits.

Participants identified several local environmental concerns, including improper use of the recycling depot; the need for more frequent Toxic Roundups and lack of a used oil collection site; and the need to raise awareness about how to reduce the environmental footprint of our homes, businesses, industry and community in general.

Participants also identified initiatives that could be undertaken by the Green Team, including an education campaign on what can and cannot be recycled at the local facility; expanding the Toxic Roundup by providing volunteers; raising awareness about electronics recycling; encouraging people to “reduce” and “reuse;” encouraging the trade fair to adopt an environmental theme; developing a community composting program; and looking into grants available to homeowners to reduce their environmental footprint. Other priorities included encouraging environmental stewardship and action among youth; building capacity for change by identifying and building upon existing strengths;  identifying/recruiting “champions” of the environment in our community; and focusing on some “quick wins,” or initiatives that will show early success to help build momentum.

The meeting concluded with a round-table discussion about “next steps.” Priorities included recruiting representatives to the Green Team from the business community, industry, local government, youth organizations, schools, services clubs, and concerned citizens; finding out what others are already doing to reduce their environmental footprint; organizing into committees to identify, develop and implement local initiatives; and promoting the Green Team as a vehicle for networking, problem solving, and capacity building.

Green Team membership is open to all. For information please contact Maurice Mazurat at cmaz7@shaw.ca or (403) 78-0703; or Jennifer Chick at jennchick2008@gmail.com.

Submitted