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In the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' neighbourhoods award category, Edmonton’s Blatchford community won for its vision of a carbon-neutral residential cluster that would use 100% renewable energy. Photo credit: City of Edmonton

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is celebrating its Sustainable Community Award winners for 2020, with Alberta and B.C. leading the green charge.

Through FCM’s Green Municipal Fund, which has made more than 1,360 sustainable projects a reality across the country, the awards showcase municipal projects in asset management, brownfields, climate change, energy, transportation, waste and water, as well as sustainable neighbourhood revitalization and design.

Each award winner will present a TED-style talk on their project at the 2020 Sustainable Communities Conference, held virtually from October 20–22, 2020.

“Local solutions — scaled up — deliver major national impact, like economic growth and the emission reductions Canada needs to meet its climate change goals,” announced FCM president Bill Karsten, in a statement to media. “Whether it is through improved energy efficiency, fewer greenhouse gas emissions or stronger local infrastructure, local governments get the job done efficiently and cost-effectively because they connect solutions to local needs and local realities,” added Karsten.

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The awards have been around since 2001. 

Alberta

For Alberta, which just edged out British Columbia for the most awards this year, the list of accomplishments ranges from a Canmore food waste collection pilot, to on-demand local transit in Cochrane, to net zero energy-use ambitions in areas like Raymond and Edmonton.

In FCM’s neighbourhoods award category, Edmonton’s Blatchford community won for its vision of a carbon-neutral residential cluster that would use 100% renewable energy. Community leaders describe water use as “a combination of low impact development design features such as bioswales, rain gardens and stormwater ponds that will slow down and capture water runoff in Blatchford, and will improve the water quality before it enters the drainage system.” Water cisterns in the parks will also collect rainwater for use in community gardens.

Blatchford has also developed a District Energy Sharing System that uses geothermal energy as its main renewable energy source in the community’s initial stage.

In Raymond, Alberta, the town won in the energy category, primarily for its installation of a series of solar PV systems on municipal buildings, including its town hall, aquatic centre, fire hall, arena and more.

“By securing a carbon-free power source to offset our entire municipal operations, we have improved fiscal certainty in our budgeting processes as well as helping us become more environmentally sustainable in our operations,” said Town of Raymond Mayor Jim Depew, in a statement. 

British Columbia 

British Columbia municipalities succeeded in award categories such as asset management and climate change. Vernon, B.C., in particular, was celebrated for its drainage infrastructure prioritization plan, which identifies stormwater drains needing maintenance or replacement to protect the city from future flooding. The work was done in partnership with the consulting firm Urban Systems and the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB).

“We can be proud of the work taking place in Vernon to grow our city responsibly, taking steps to work with our natural assets and become more resilient to ongoing significant climate change impacts,” Vernon Mayor Vicor Cumming announced.

Also in B.C., the City of Campbell was recognized for its Sea Level Rise Action Plan that puts in motion a series of interventions to protect the community and the surrounding ecosystems from the impacts of rising sea levels.

“We do our best to share local solutions to inspire other municipalities to meet climate change goals,” Campbell Mayor Andy Adams told media.

Water

The FCM’s water award went to the Ontario Township of Loyalist. The award celebrates the constructed wetland designed to lower the pH of the township’s wastewater disinfection lagoons, helping to treat wastewater with natural biological processes and the use of native vegetation. The constructed wetland is a cost-effective alternative to UV disinfection and allows residents access to an additional green space in the community.

“The constructed wetland at the Amherstview Water Pollution Control Plant is a great example of Loyalist Township’s commitment to pursue initiatives supporting sustainable environmental management,” said Loyalist Township Mayor Ric Bresee, in a statement.

Brownfields

The Newfoundland Town of Paradise and the City of Montreal both won brownfields awards from FCM. Paradise has remediated and transformed multiple former industrial lands into recreational facilities, conservation areas and commercial and residential properties, while Montreal was honoured for its innovative approach to collect and treat contaminants at Pointe-Saint-Charles industrial park that were migrating into the Saint Lawrence River. The project constructed a 1.9-km waterproofing wall between the Champlain and Victoria bridges and a groundwater treatment plant.

Winners in each FCM awards category are also eligible for the Inspire Award, given to the project that best demonstrates creativity and innovation.

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