Ahead of the public release of the City of Winnipeg’s 2022 budget, SBM submitted a letter calling for greater investment in sustainability to City Councillors and Executives. A diverse group of 62 organizations signed on in support.
The letter asks the City to move its Office of Sustainability out of the Department of Water and Waste and have it report directly to the CAO, to increase the budget of the Office of Sustainability to a level closer to similarly-sized Canadian cities, and to create a Community Advisory Council on Sustainability.
SBM has been meeting with city officials for over a year to try and understand why there is such a log jam at city hall when it comes to moving forward on some key sustainability issues, and we identified these three simple changes as important first steps. It is exciting that we were able to get such a broad cross-section of organizations signed on, including organizations from the construction industry, the arts, the financial sector, unions, and large environmental organizations.
Having the Office of Sustainability report to the highest level possible is crucial to making change - The City of Selkirk has the most progressive climate change adaptation plan in the province, and much of that credit is owed to their CAO Duane Nicol. A climate lens needs to be applied to every aspect of operations.
The City of Winnipeg’s Office of Sustainability has a staff of three, while Edmonton has a staff of 37. Winnipeg’s Office of Sustainability is doing important work, like their recent launch of the Building Energy Disclosure Project, but they simply don’t have the resources to get everything done.
The creation of a Community Advisory Council on Sustainability was one of the recommendations of Winnipeg’s Climate Action Plan, adopted in 2018, but it has not yet been created. There are a lot of passionate, highly educated professionals who want to help. Creating this advisory council is a very inexpensive way for the City to access these resources.
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We're continuing to accept new signatories until December 9, when the Executive Policy Committee meets to hear public delegations on the budget. Interested organizations and individuals can sign on to the letter.