David Hunter was recently named as chairperson of the Sustainable Sackville Steering Committee (SSSC).
The overall purpose of the committee is to oversee the development and implementation of the Town of Sackville’s Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP). The committee deals primarily with three aspects of sustainability in the Town of Sackville: environmental sustainability, social responsibility and economic prosperity. Hunter, a local business owner is primarily concerned with the economic benefits and business opportunities attached to sustainable projects. Emily Phillips, coordinator of RCE Tantramar, said, “Recently the committee has pursued small sustainability enhancing projects, on an appropriate scale for the SSSC's abilities, at the local level, which will then ripple out to benefit the community.”
Hunter hopes these projects have spinoff benefits to help stakeholders recover their investment. Hunter’s vision for the SSSC is, he says, “To have sustainable ideas that are clearly beneficial for the town brought to the forefront and financed.
“The two guideposts for money would be to solve a specific problem like diverting recyclable materials from the common landfill or something that can create a mini economy such as recovering used cooking oil for biodiesel.
“When a good idea manifests, the SSSC can help via valuation, marketing, the town councilors can provide feedback on the political challenges, and the RCE can help to see if there are any grants available for the ideas.
“If these markers can be in balance then the idea is a good position to be financed and put into place.”
The SSSC has also highlighted some key points of consensus regarding "defining the committee", one of which is to integrate ideas from the public and bring together community partners on sustainability initiatives. Hunter is encouraging people with business experience and who identify themselves as doers come on board the committee and lend their experience to planning projects, training and administration and work with stakeholders that are financing projects.
Another committee that received new leadership is Mount Allison’s Environmental Issues Committee (EIC). Rob Burroughs hails from Ottawa, Ont., and is a fourth year honour’s student majoring in international relations at Mount Allison University. He has recently become acting student chair of Mount Allison’s EIC in his final semester of study. He plans on attending grad school and studying international relations. Burroughs has continued with Graham May’s vision of creating environmental awareness through education and interacting with students and the community. C3, Mount Allison’s Campus Climate Challenge is a campaign that has students from all over the Atlantic Provinces compete to reduce energy consumption by the largest amount in residences on campus. They also learn energy saving tactics that can be used over a lifetime. Lunch and learn events have become commonplace every three weeks. Students, faculty, administration, staff and community members are welcome to come out and enjoy a meal and discuss environmental issues on campus.
There is also a plan to incorporate a green pledge in the commencement, which would essentially be a charter to call on students and the university to practice sustainability and environmental stewardship. This pledge would also be incorporated in convocation to show students what has been accomplished in their environmental journey. Burroughs says, “The intention of these efforts is to bridge the gap between behavioral and environmental. We have a wet/dry program on campus and incorporate dual flush design in our washrooms. If people don’t take advantage of these ways to reduce our environmental impacts, then these mitigations on our environmental footprint ultimately fail.”
The latest lunch and learn discussed the installment of a specialized composter at the university’s Jennings dining hall, which sees 220 kilograms of waste produced per day.
Both Hunter and Burroughs, who also sits on the SSSC, have expressed interest working together and moving forward with partnerships between SSSC and the university. Hunter would like some things to change in the relationship between the town and the university as he states, “The university is an autonomous institution that already brings a lot to the town. The university has the money for major projects and the town has the stability, but the town needs its own vision to create money. The town looks at the university but really needs to look at the resource that is coming out of the university, which is the students. There needs to be some sort of balance struck where both can work together in the future and retain some of the students in the town.”
Trevor Donald is the student communications intern with RCE Tantramar, a Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development. He is also a student at Mount Allison University, where he is studying geography and environment.