Working Towards A Greener Edmonton

City’s environmental strategic plan first step on a long road towards a greener city

How green do we want to be, and how far are we willing to go to get there?

Those are the two questions at the core of The Way We Green, the City of Edmonton’s 90-page environmental strategic plan. The draft plan, released April 21, will be up for discussion at a public hearing on May 11 at 1:30 p.m. at city hall.

Jim Andrais is the project manager for The Way We Green, and he’s lived and breathed green since January 2010.

He delivered the draft version just last month, but it’s a long way from being finished.

The report was built around the “burning questions” on the environment — conservation, preservation, protection of the environment, etc. But the more Andrais looked at what other leading cities in the world were doing, the issues of “sustainability and resilience” came up. We’ve all heard the term sustainability, but the new buzzword is “resilience,” which is a city that can “withstand and bounce back intact from environmental disturbances.”

Eventually, the report was framed around “what we need to know about the future, about the challenges, about the ability of the planet to support us, and will business as usual work?”

Edmonton’s track record on environmental issues is good, the report shows, but could be better.

“We’re on par or ahead of most cities. But we’re still not at the point where we should be.”

The Way We Green is the first step on the long road to a green future, says Andrais.

“The real value of The Way We Green is that we are taking it to council and the community, and saying ‘Do you agree that this is where we want to go as a community to become a more sustainable community?’ If the answer is yes, then we have to look at the options that are going to get us there.”

Support for The Way We Green so far has been very high, but he expects that will chage when the report gets “closer to home”.

For example, the report questions the price we pay — or don’t pay — for growth. It suggests that prices may have to rise to discourage people from moving to the suburbs.

“Consumers make rational decisions, which are often guided by price,” says Andrais. “If we want a city with more density, and one that provides a greater urban experience, that won’t work if prices are pulling us toward the suburbs.

 “The time will come when we will need to look at price and look at cost and ask if we are moving us away from our goals or towards our goals.”

He’s OK with controversy and changes — in fact, it’s vital to the process.

“If this journey is going to have any legs, there has to be broad community understanding and support, and the only way you get that is through discussion and debate.”

The report doesn’t get into all the hows, but asks if the public and council agrees that Edmonton should become carbon neutral, produce zero waste, and become less dependant on fossil fuels.

“First we need to know what journey we’re going on, and that everybody is on the same page. Then we’ll come back with the solutions and the costs.

“The Way We Green sets the stage for the long-term journey.”

The Way We Green, and its supporting documents, can be read at






1. Edmonton’s communities are full of nature — a place where in the course of everyday life, residents experience a strong connection with nature.



2. Water quality in the North Saskatchewan River sustains healthy people and healthy ecosystems.

3. Edmonton’s water supply meets its needs.


4. Our air sustains healthy people and healthy ecosystems.

Energy and climate change

5. Edmonton’s sources and uses of energy are sustainable.

6. Edmonton is resilient to disturbances that could affect its energy
supplies and distribution system.

7. Edmonton is a carbon-neutral city.

8. Edmonton is resilient to disturbances from climate change.


9. Edmonton has a resilient food and agriculture system that contributes to the local economy and the overall cultural, financial, social and
environmental sustainability of the city.

Solid Waste

10. Edmonton generates zero waste.

Foundation for Success

11. The City of Edmonton strives for sustainability and
resilience in all it does.

12. Lifestyles of Edmontonians contribute significantly to the city’s
sustainability and resilience.



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