Niverville Council Prioritizes Eco-Friendly Policies

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1 Niverville A Role Model In Sustainability And Innovation Pic
The bioremediated lagoon in Niverville Native Plant Solutions

Over the past few years, Niverville has been on the forefront of implementing environmentally friendly policies. Among their most successful initiatives is the ongoing decommissioning of the town’s sewage lagoon through a bioremediation process. This led to Niverville receiving a Manitoba Excellence in Sustainability Award in 2014.

More recent initiatives include the construction of a splash pad that incorporates a water recycling system, a town-wide recycling system aimed at reducing landfill waste, and measures to encourage backyard composting.

Even more recently, the town has partnered with the province to study the feasibility of heating the new high school and proposed multiplex with geothermal technology. Solar power and window-tinting are other options on the table.

“One thing we’re looking at is repurposing the [arena’s] ice plant,” says Mayor Myron Dyck. “When you use it for cooling, it gives off heat, and that heat can be captured and used for heating in another part of the multiplex or school. And we look at costs, obviously. There has to be a benefit over time. Even if your upfront cost might be greater with a geothermal field, you save over time on your heating bills.”

Dyck says that council is committed to taking a leadership role in the area of conservatism, even though the resulting policies are not always immediately popular with residents.

One controversial measure has been instructing residents to only water their lawns on odd or even days. Although this is often a necessary action to conserve water use from the town’s often overtaxed water treatment plant, Dyck points out that it’s also a good practice to follow in terms of being effective stewards of our natural resources.

The Local Action Plan
In 2012, the town partnered with Eco-West, a national organization whose aim is to help rural communities across Canada green their local economies. They look at several sectors of a community, including its use of energy, transportation, wastewater treatment, waste management, composting, and brownfield redevelopment. The term “brownfield” refers to land that has previously been used for industrial or commercial purposes and which may be contaminated as a result.

Eco-West gives municipalities a boost in several ways. For one, they measure greenhouse gas emissions, identifying sources of energy waste and inefficiencies within a community. They also facilitate the introduction of green technologies that might otherwise be unknown or unavailable, helping local councils access financial support at various levels of government and through other funders.

In consultation with Eco-West, Niverville’s town council has identified a number of priorities for the coming years to continue their promotion of sustainable practices. They’ve called it the Climate Change Local Action Plan.

One goal is to continue encouraging residents to reduce waste through promoting backyard composting, ensuring that students receive education about composting in school, effectively managing the current recycling program, and promoting town beautification efforts, such as the Community in Bloom committee’s gardening workshops.

Another goal is to operate town buildings in a sustainable manner. Eventually the town strives to build all-new facilities that utilize geothermal heating and cooling systems. Until then, they’ll consider ways to further recycle water when possible, purchase smaller and more energy-efficient vehicles and equipment, and conduct regular energy audits of town facilities.

Dyck adds that water management, in particular, is key and that the town should ensure that utility rates encourage residents to use water responsibly. The town will also look to plant more trees throughout the community. A long-time goal has been to hire an arborist to educate town staff, and the public, about best practices. Niverville will also continue its work with the province to reduce wastewater production.

With Niverville’s population on the rise, the town has identified objectives to make sure the community grows in sustainable ways. This includes encouraging high-density residential development to decrease the human footprint on the environment, and holding regular meetings with developers to explore creative solutions along these lines.

The town has also said they will conduct a review of Niverville’s Development Plan and Zoning By-Law by next year. Specifically, they’ll be looking for ways to encourage active living and responsible land use. Dyck says that he hopes the recent installation of bike racks on Main Street will encourage more residents to cycle around town.

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