Reflecting on spring session

Written by Annie McKitrick, MLA for Sherwood Park.

First published in Sherwood Park News on June 10, 2016.

Like my colleagues, I am glad to see the spring session of the legislature end this week. We finished with a marathon session into the wee hours of Tuesday morning to make sure to pass the last bill: the Climate Leadership Implementation Act.

In the 2016 Speech from the Throne, the government signaled its intent to introduce this legislation, including its two parts: Energy Efficiency Alberta and the Climate Leadership Plan. Establishing Energy Efficiency Alberta will help families, businesses and communities reduce both their energy costs and their greenhouse gas emissions.

This act and the programs it sets in motion will protect the health of all Albertans by phasing out coal emissions and will position Alberta as a world leader in responsible resource production to help open new markets for oil.

Responsibility is the key to the new Climate Leadership Plan and to the carbon levy that the government will be implementing in January 2017. The carbon levy is the tool that will be used to demonstrate the commitment to responsible resource development. The revenue earned from that levy will go toward economic diversification and programs to provide for cleaner air and water.

This act and the programs it sets in motion will protect the health of all Albertans by phasing out coal emissions and will position Alberta as a world leader in responsible resource production to help open new markets for oil.

A price on carbon is meant to influence behaviour. When you put a levy on the things you want to discourage, in this case pollution and carbon emission, individuals who do them will have to pay an extra cost as an incentive to look at alternatives.

Over the past few years, we have all learned how to recycle; whether that be paper, plastics, glass, Styrofoam, and metals, or composting organics through the Green Bin. The cost of these programs are part of our monthly utility bills.

We have rain barrels to conserve water and we recycle our clothing through thrift stores. We pay a recycling fee each time with buy milk, pop or juice. Our communities work hard at eliminating chemicals harmful to plants, animals and people. Strathcona County has been a leader in environmental stewardship.

As I write this column, we celebrate Clean Air Day by giving free rides on its transit system. I know that there is interest in Sherwood Park in pursuing renewable energy projects and in mitigating the impact of carbon on our environment.

The Climate Leadership plan is cost neutral for most families. Two-thirds of Albertans will receive a rebate to ensure the direct cost sof emissions do not place an unfair burden on them and that their efforts to reduce their energy consumption are rewarded. For information on who may benefit from the rebate please go to www.alberta.ca/climate-carbon-pricing.cfm.

There are many green energy options available to constituents and more are in the process of being developed. An example of one of those options I can speak to is Alberta Cooperative Energy (ACE) -it is one I am familiar with because it supplies both electricity and natural gas to my house. The Climate Leadership Implementation Act will help Alberta and Sherwood Park to continue their ongoing efforts to be leaders in environmental responsibility.

Pride of Strathcona Last week: I was honored to participate in two ceremonies that recognized exceptional Strathcona County residents. The Pride of Strathcona awards which saw awards given to individuals and groups who achieved excellence in sports, leadership, business, and service to community. The High Five Awards organized by the Strathcona County Youth Council celebrate adults who have made an impact in the life of a young person. We have incredible adults who are mentoring youth in our community and it was wonderful to see the impact they have. Congratulations to the recipients of the Pride of Strathcona County Awards and to the youth who nominated the adult recipients of this award.

This week, we are recognizing the seniors in our community. Seniors Week began 30 years ago when Strathcona County resident Alice Modin convinced the county council to declare an annual Seniors’ Day. This is now celebrated provincially.

Many in our community are celebrating Ramadan this month. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. It is a period of prayer, fasting, charity-giving and self-accountability for Muslims in Canada. Ramadan Mubarak for all those observing this blessed month.