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Opinion

After having worst air in Canada, will Red Deer take painful steps to clean our air?

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Alberta on track to have worst air quality in Canada

Red Deer has worst pollution in province, while 4 other regions close to exceeding national standards

According to CBC News. Sept. 2015

Alberta is hoping to relieve Red Deer of a less than prestigious title. The central Alberta city, for years, has had the worst ambient air quality in the province.

Industrial activity and vehicle emissions had pushed Red Deer’s ozone and fine particulate matter levels above national standards going back to 2009.

The Alberta Motor Association will continue driver education with an aim of reducing practices like idling, that increase emissions.

 

Red Deer outlined a series of actions the city was taking to address the issue following the September report, including buying 30 per cent of its energy from green sources and expanded public transit options, among others.

Nancy Hackett, who heads up environmental initiatives for the city, says they have been trying to improve the situation.

 

“I think what the report does is tell us something that we needed to know,” she said.

 

“It’s information that we need to be aware of to protect our community and protect our quality of life here. So I think it’s very important information that city residents and regional residents need to be aware of so that we can make changes and we can protect our air quality.”

The government said a scientific study looking into the cause of the air pollutants is currently underway, and people living in the Red Deer area, industry stakeholders and the provincial energy regulator will be consulted. That plan is expected to be complete by the end of September and will take Red Deer’s geography and air patterns into consideration.

As part of the plan, Phillips said the government will:

  • Review technology that could be used to reduce emissions.
  • Review whether polluters in Alberta are meeting national standards.
  • Look at other ways to reduce emissions, for example, ways to curb vehicle emissions.

The Pembina Institute, non-profit think tank focused on clean energy, was quick to follow up with its own statement about the air quality results, saying the report shows the need for a provincewide pollution reduction strategy.

“This new report adds to the mounting evidence that Alberta needs to reduce air pollution across the province. Measures that will produce more rapid results are also needed in the numerous regional hot spots identified by the report,” said Chris Severson-Baker, Alberta’s regional director at the Pembina Institute.

“The report shows that, unless emissions are cut, most of the province risks exceeding the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter. This places an unacceptable burden on people’s health and on the environment,” he said.

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment has also weighed in on the report, saying it is “dismayed, but not surprised” by the findings.

“This calls into question the pervasive belief that the clear blue skies of Alberta foster clean air, safe from the pollutants better known from smoggier climes,” said Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room doctor and member of the association.

The removal of the Molly Banister Extension means 1,000s of cars every day traveling 4 extra kilometres.  (32 Street has 23,500 cars per day. If only 14 %or 3,290 cars per day or 1,200,850 cars per year reduced their mileage by 4 kms. That will mean 5 million less kilometres driven in a year. That is just 32 St. How about 19 St. That is now at pop.100,000 what about at 180,000 or more? )Not building the Molly Banister extension, will only make our air more polluted, not less. How many cars would have to stop idling to counter all those cars traveling 4 extra kilometres unnecessarily? Just asking.

Environmentalists have you given this any thought?

Political editor/writer and retired oilfield supervisor

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Opinion

December 2019 progress report on Red Deer Air Quality, Are we serious about this?

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The fine particulate issue has been plaguing Red Deer for a decade. CBC did a story on Sept 9 2015 describing Red Deer’s air quality as the worst in Alberta which has the distinction of being the worst in Canada. A committee was established. This is part of their update.

December 2019

The Red Deer Fine Particulate Matter Implementation Progress Report (the report) provides an update on
the state of the management actions for fine particulate matter management in the Red Deer area. Alberta
Environment and Parks, and members of the Red Deer Air Quality Advisory Committee (the Advisory
Committee) developed three priority objectives to implement management actions to reduce fine particulate
matter (PM2.5) levels in the Red Deer Air Management Area. This report, therefore, presents highlights of
the progress of the Advisory Committee and its represented stakeholders have made in implementing the
Red Deer Fine Particulate Matter Response (the response).

The Red Deer area exceeded both the Canada-wide Standards (CWS) and the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards (CAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5). In 2015 the Advisory Committee was
established and charged with working to reduce the ambient levels of PM2.5 in the Red Deer Air Quality Management Area by implementing a management response. The response was released in April 2016 for implementation over 15 years.

The response contains three objectives: Action, Investigation, and
Engagement. Each objective contains management actions that the Advisory Committee can implement in
three phases: Phase 1, ending December 2020; Phase 2, ending December 2025; and Phase 3, ending
December 2030.

Purpose
The purpose of this report is to provide an update on the efforts to implement the response within the three
priority objectives that have informed the activities of Alberta Environment and Parks and the multistakeholder group to date. The three objectives are: Objective 1 (Action), Objective 2 (Investigation), and Objective 3 (Engagement).
The response is currently in Phase 1 of implementation (2015 – 2020). This report highlights the progress made since the implementation of the response in 2016, any additional priorities identified, actions to achieve by the conclusion of Phase 1 (in 2020), and the context that informs the path forward. For more
information on these objectives, please refer to the response. The goal of the response is to reduce ambient fine particulate matter concentrations and remain below the CAAQS, as measured at ambient air quality monitoring stations within the Red Deer Air Quality Management Area.

The science report identified transportation as a major source of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and VOCs. Transportation related sources release these gasses and in turn lead to the formation of secondary PM2.5 in Red Deer. Additional investigation, specifically Provincial Air Quality Photochemical Modelling 4 continues to highlight transportation-related sources as a significant contributor to emissions that result in the formation of PM2.5. Transportation related sources include on-road and off-road sources. A wide range
of vehicles, engines and equipment types including personal and commercial vehicles, and combustion driven lawn and garden equipment contribute to transportation related emissions. Transportation related sources are concentrated near population centers.

There is more to this report but I would like to respond.

We all know that the city is trying, greening the fleet, idle-free zones, LED bulbs etc. but there are those who believe that air quality is not that important.

For example; Don’t idle but do drive 4 extra kilometres and 6 minutes longer through residential neighbourhoods and school zones. I am talking about the immediate pressing issue of the Molly Banister Extension.

We have discussed the economic costs of not extending Molly Banister with widening roads, traffic circles, pedestrian bridges and other secondary roads. We talked about business commitments to Bower Mall and south west businesses being overturned. We talked about building 6 lane roads through residential areas and school playgrounds.

We talked about building a bridge over a creek in a cow pasture that has been fenced preventing access to pedestrians and wildlife for decades.

Now we shall talk about air quality.

Thousands of cars driving 4 extra kilometres and 6 extra minutes everyday, 3,000 x 4 x 365 =4,380,000 kms per year and that is a minimal estimate. 23,500 cars per day on 32 Street servicing many neighbourhoods along 32 St. and also along 22 St.

We are talking about bridging the Piper Creek for vehicular traffic to reduce commuting.

Less commuting. Less emissions. Better air quality. Is that not the goal?

 

 

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Opinion

The city prefers housing, commercial buildings and gas bars on Piper Creek over a bridge, why?

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On October 27 2020, 1 PM,  there will be a public hearing at the Harvest Centre on the Westerner grounds because the city council wants to remove the Molly Banister extension so a developer can build even more houses along Piper Creek.

Currently the plan shows Molly Banister continuing across the creek then south to the power lines and west to 40 Ave. and 22 Street.

They state that this is a wildlife corridor, but just south of here is 19 Street with commercial development, office buildings, gas bar and parking lot, metres away from the creek. Southern point is just a culvert. The pollution alone from the parking lot, the potential oil and gas seeping into the ground then the creek.

Apparently this is all preferable than having a road, a sidewalk and a bridge.

There are 2 dozen homes that back onto Molly Banister that would see more traffic, This is minimal compared to the 300 families that back onto 32 St, that would see 6 lanes of traffic. 2007 the city decided not to expand 32 Street into 6 lanes because of Molly Banister taking some of the traffic. With Molly Banister off the table 32 Street gets expanded starting 2026. They are spending millions on the 32 St. bridge over Piper Creek. I emailed the city leaders asking if they are building it up for 6 lanes, and have yet to hear confirmation or denial.

There is talk that hikers, bikers and skaters would have to cross the Molly Banister bridge. You can build the bridge over the trail or you can have the trail exit the woods 40 m sooner and cross the road with a crosswalk signal.  Right now there are thousands of people driving 4 kms further every day to travel around this subdivision. There is approximately 50 hectares to be built, the city wants 17 housing units per hectare which means 850 units. That would add to the current number. We are talking about millions of kilometres of extra driving every year, think about all those extra emissions pouring into our air.

September 2015, CBC reported we had the worst air quality in Alberta which had the worst air quality in Canada. This will only ensure it gets worse.

10,000 cars per day is the barrier for animals crossing a street. 32 St is now at 23,500 cars per day. 19 St will beat that. Animals are being kept in an area between 32 St. and 19 St. Which will be walled in, not by the current barbed wire fence but with housing, commercial buildings and parking lots.

The current trail runs along Barrett Drive on the west side of the creek in a grassy area away from the creek and inaccessible to the creek part of the way due to the barb wire fence.

Red Deer College was to see a second entrance on 22 Street easing the pressure off 32 St. Bower Mall and neighbouring businesses would have direct access to residents across the creek.

It is not like we need 850 more homes. The last census showed the city only grew by 195 residents in 5 years while added 1299 more housing units. Forcing the depreciation of our assessments last year.

The developments already built showed the tendency to remove trees and vegetation along the creek.

So my question remains. Why is a well thought out traffic corridor with a bridge and a road, that has been the basis for commercial and residential development, worse than having housing and commercial buildings encroaching on our creek?

The public hearing is 1 pm on October 27 at the Harvest Centre on the Westerner grounds, Please speak up.

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