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Opinion

Remember CBC reported that Red Deer has the poorest air quality in Alberta

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“Alberta has the worst air quality in the country, and Red Deer has the worst air quality in Alberta.”

This was reported on September 9, 2015. Red Deer intended to act. They would maintain and lower ambient concentrations of air borne pollutants.

The air quality is poor but it has been shown that downtown Edmonton during rush hour traffic has had some worst readings.

Our air quality has not improved much since then, and the city will say that it is a larger issue that cannot be fixed overnight and alone. They will take some steps.

Encourage transit use and post “Idle Free Zones” around the city, were a few steps. Limit wood burning may be another.

Now they are reversing direction. They are asking thousands of people to drive 4 kilometres or 6 minutes more every day.

I am talking about not extending 22 Street onto Molly Banister Drive.

It was mentioned that it is only 6 minutes per trip, “What’s the big deal?”,but we are talking about thousands of people. Huge neighbourhoods, having to detour around Southbrook and Sunnybrook either on 19 St. or 32 St.

I read a brochure once suggesting that we buckle up before we start our cars. Moms with young children are being lectured for not shutting off their vehicles in cold weather when picking up their children.

But it is only for 6 minutes. What’s the big deal?

It is okay for thousands of residents in all those neighbourhoods to drive 6 extra minutes but that Mom with the baby in the schoolyard in cold weather, better not be idling. After all Red Deer has the poorest Air Quality in Canada.

It’s only 6 minutes, what’s the big deal?

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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