Thursday’s launch of Environment Lethbridge represents three years of work by a steadfast group of volunteers dedicated to greening the city.
Environment Lethbridge is a group of community partners, including Lethbridge College, the University of Lethbridge, the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce, Exhibition Park, Southern Alberta Group for the Environment, Industrial Association of Southern Alberta, the Mission and Social Action committee of McKillop United Church, the Oldman Watershed Council, Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization, and the Lethbridge Naturalists’ Society.
The group came together out of a desire to promote Lethbridge as a leader in environmental sustainability and to provide a co-operative process for the flow of information, advice and expertise between the community and the City of Lethbridge regarding environmental sustainability.
“We want to support the municipal policy development adopted by the city in 2010 and help with its implementation and we want to help facilitate the planning of environmental initiatives in our city,” said Tom Cain, chairman of the steering committee. “The main way we’re going to accomplish that is through being an information hub.”
The city’s municipal development plan contains broad statements about the city’s desire to be a leader in environmental stewardship. With 125 people registered to attend the launch, Cain said the table discussions should generate plenty of ideas.
“Their input (Thursday) will help shape the vision and the goals for where we go in the next year or two,” Cain said. “(This) is really the first sample of the kind of community meeting we’d like to have on a regular basis. We’d like to be a nucleus for community input.”
For example, that input could include things like the bureaucracy involved in trying to install solar panels on homes in Lethbridge.
“We have extra hoops that we have to jump through in the city of Lethbridge that you don’t jump through in other cities. That needs to be announced and worked on,” Cain said. “Let’s get the impediments out of the way and really promote it.”
The non-profit organization will use a community governance model where the community will shape the direction the organization is going.
“I think issues surrounding protecting our environment for generations to come cannot be solved by any one person or one organization so it really requires the response of the entire society,” he said.
Several of those who helped get the group started are stepping back from leadership roles. The 10 founding community partners group will help decide the future direction and the eight-member executive, representing a cross-section of society, will implement those directions.
He said the group doesn’t want to be known as an advocacy group but a community thinking group.
“It’s really a collaborative effort,” he said.