Despite leading the way on a number of environmental initiatives, Calgary’s green dreams are coming under fire.
Citing the city’s poor showing last weekend by marking only a one per cent drop in power usage during Earth Hour, Ald. Brian Pincott called Calgary environmentally schizophrenic, regularly talking the talk of a green city, but seldom walking the walk.
“I think it’s a shame Calgary is ahead of the game in so many areas but it seems we don’t want to step up when it’s inconvenient,” he said.
The city has been at the forefront of many environmental initiatives, adopting plans to use only green electricity in city facilities by 2012, running the LRT on wind power and making a major push for water conservation.
At the same time Calgary was among the last major cities in Canada to introduce curbside recycling and on Thursday, a city committee shot down calls to ban bottled water at city facilities.
Grady Semmens, a spokesman for the Sierra Club said Calgary, has a history of struggling with its environmental conscience, which is often reflected in its conservative voting patterns.
“In some cases doing the right thing for the environment requires hard choices and changing behaviour,” he said.
“Calgarians are interested and aware but it’s been difficult to get people to act rather than just say they’re going to do things.”
Ald. Ric McIver said Calgary is far ahead of the curb in both water and wastewater management and has pushed for many green innovations that are the envy of other municipalities.
“Moaning because we’re not perfect yet isn’t the answer,” he said.
“I think Calgary is doing a great job environmentally and I don’t think for a moment were done.”
But Ald. Druh Farrell said the city is starting to earn international attention for all the wrong reasons.
“We’re considered a leader in some areas but in others we are lagging behind by decades,” she said.
“I really believe the world is starting to notice Calgary and not always in a good way.”