Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Issue 14, Evidence of May 8, 2003
OTTAWA, Thursday, May 8, 2003
The Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural
Resources met this day at 9:00 a.m. to examine and report on emerging issues
related to its mandate (implementation of Kyoto).
Senator Mira Spivak (Deputy Chairman) in the Chair.
The Deputy Chairman: With us is Ms. Louise Comeau from the Federation
of Canadian Municipalities. Please give us your presentation. We will then have
Ms. Louise Comeau, Director, Centre for Sustainable Community Development,
Federation of Canadian Municipalities: Honourable senators, thank you for
taking an interest in this very important subject, and for giving me the
opportunity to talk to you about the issues emerging from the implementation of
the Kyoto Protocol.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been active on climate change
since 1995, starting with a small program called the 20Per Cent Club that has
now grown to include 108 communities under our Partners for Climate Protection
More than half of Canada's population resides in PCP communities with each of
them at different stages of engagement ranging from passing resolutions
committing to greenhouse gas reductions to completing inventories, setting
targets and developing and executing corporate and community action plans.
FCM with Environment Canada managed the municipalities' table; one of 16
issues tables formed in 1998-1999 to assess options for implementing the Kyoto
Protocol. The municipalities' table was unique because it focussed on
identifying opportunities, and it worked to identify the co-benefits of cutting
greenhouse gas emissions, especially improvements to air quality.
The table concluded that municipal governments, directly and indirectly,
control or influence up to one-half of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions and
that municipal governments could directly and indirectly contribute up to one-
quarter of the Kyoto target.
Municipal governments can reduce greenhouse gas emissions through land-use
planning, energy and transportation planning, transit investments,
infrastructure design, green procurement, building retrofits, water
conservation, solid waste diversion, renewable energy investments and engagement
of the citizens. Essentially, you cannot do it without us.
Our conclusion was that climate protection requires sustainable community
development. That was a fundamental shift in the thinking around climate change
at the time. It was not simply another add-on environmental issue; it is
fundamental to quality of life and sustainable community development.
It was this recognition and integrated thinking that led in 2000, and again
in 2001, to FCM receiving endowments from the Government of Canada totalling
$250million to establish the Green Municipal Funds. The enabling fund provides
grants for up to one-half the cost of feasibility studies, and the investment
fund provides low-interest loans for projects.
To date, the funds have approved almost $40million in loans and grants and
leveraged $135million in economic activity. The funds invest in green
infrastructure projects in energy and energy services, water, solid waste,
transportation and sustainable community planning.
The Green Funds are working to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Almost one-half
of the approved projects are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and we
expect to contribute up to 10milliontons of reductions within the Kyoto period.
PCP communities could contribute a further 10million tons of reductions with
the right kind of support through infrastructure spending and citizen engagement
FCM 1,000 member municipal government members represent large cities, towns,
and rural and remote communities. As a result, FCM brings to the climate change
issue the same national tensions so evident in the days leading to ratification
of the Kyoto Protocol.
FCM, through its democratic processes, secured more than 200 council
resolutions in favour of ratification and 45 against leading up to FCM's 2002
annual conference. A resolution at that conference secured more than 80per cent
endorsement of ratification given some important conditions.
The two most important conditions were that no region of the country bear an
unreasonable cost related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and that sink
credits be allocated fairly to farmers reflecting the rural nature of some of
With ratification behind us FCM is now working to ensure that its conditions
apply to implementation. With that in mind, FCM and the City of Regina hosted
two weeks ago a meeting of Partners for Climate Protection communities that
attracted over 100 municipal staff and politicians from 45 communities.
In your kits you have the communiqué and recommendations from that meeting,
as well as the list of participating communities.
The key conclusion was that federal and provincial-territorial governments
must partner with municipal governments to implement the Kyoto Protocol.
Municipal governments have essential experience in citizen engagement and should
be a critical partner in delivering the 1-tonne challenge and other public
The partners for Climate Protection Program at FCM is a very small program
focused on capacity building, peer teaching, et cetera. It has been funded at a
very low level that will come to an end at the end of this fiscal year.
Therefore, the first recommendation focuses on expanding and continuing to
support the Partners for Climate Protection program.
The recommendations suggest engaging municipal governments in the design and
exclusion of the One-Tonne Challenge and other citizen engagement campaigns;
providing start up funding to community groups and stewardship initiatives;
inspiring market transformation and behaviour change through public education
and association with incentives and regulatory changes; providing more and
ongoing public education and outreach to associate greenhouse gas emissions
reductions with more commonly sought benefits like reduced costs and clean air;
and develop and implement recognition programs. This might sound like a soft
thing but in fact we have found one of our most successful initiatives is our
awards program that gives national recognition to what is happening on the
Other recommendations suggest targeting child and youth programming for
greenhouse gas emission reductions; partnering with municipal governments and
utilities to actually deliver the One-Tonne Challenge and community engagement
programs; and encouraging municipal and utility partnerships to support
Another conclusion from the meeting is that there is a need to integrate
greenhouse gas requirements into all programs and initiatives including the new
10-year infrastructure program. It would be unfortunate if that 10-year program
now funded at $3billion, with increase over the 10-year period, were to fail to
invest in greenhouse gas reductions.
There is support for national standards such as stronger building codes,
performance based funding, such as tying transit funding to transit support of
land use planning, and full-cost recovery, particularly for water,
transportation and waste management systems. Pollution prevention through
watershed planning, demand side management versus new supply and life cycle
management of products were identified as essential.
You might wonder why I am talking about waste. The waste management system
contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, and recycling and waste
diversion programs contribute significantly to reductions.
Organics in landfill are generating methane. We have a 50-year supply of
methane emitting from landfills in Canada that could be captured, destroyed and
used for electricity. Recycling programs displace the use of virgin materials in
the manufacture of products, which requires less energy. Therefore, the waste
management system is a fundamental part of meeting the Kyoto target.
The PCP communities also support tax incentives for renewable energy, tax
free transit passes, advanced technology vehicles and GST rebates. Municipal
governments want to be consulted on the design of the emissions trading and
offsets system because they have so much land fill gas that could contribute to
Of course, not every municipality is ready to implement all of the
recommendations immediately. Citizens remain stumbling blocks to pricing
mechanisms that better reflect costs. However, we have a clear understanding of
where we need to go and support from an important core group of municipal staff
The Climate Change Plan for Canada will not achieve its goals without
partners. Municipal governments, through their power to convenecan engage
stakeholders in all of the sectors. Municipal governments can convene
stakeholders in all of the sectors, residential, commercial, industrial and
citizen groups. Therefore, they become fundamental to executing the plan and
achieving sustainable community development.
While the Green Funds were established in recognition of the important role
of municipal governments in sustainability and climate protection, they are not
enough to meet the needs or the potential.
This is why I speak to the issue of the infrastructure program and other
federal and provincial programs. It is critical that greenhouse gas reductions
become embedded in all of them.
The other opportunity that could be missed is to not engage municipal
governments in the design and execution of the One-Tonne Challenge public
education programs and the infrastructure program.
At the moment, municipal governments are not being engaged in the design of
the education and outreach programs or the One-Tonne Challenge, nor the offset
and trading programs. FCM and its PCP communities remain ready to contribute and
have shown in a proactive way, through its green fund projects and the recent
meeting in Regina, that we have something to offer that advances a number of
national strategic priorities.
An integrated approach to implementing the Kyoto Protocol could contribute to
achieving other environmental goals, like clean air and clean water, to the
innovation and competitiveness agendas and, of course, to quality of life. It
would be a shame to miss such an opportunity.
Senator Milne: I am most impressed with your presentation. There is no
doubt that municipal governments are, in effect, where the rubber hits the road.
You are the organizations that deal with people much more so than any other
level of government. If there is to be implementation of the Kyoto Protocol and
this One-Tonne Challenge the points you have made here are very valuable. I
encourage you to suggest ways in which the federal government can relate to the
How do you define ``sustainable community development''?
Ms. Comeau: We just completed focus groups across the country with 60
municipal staff and elected officials and asked them that very question. We had
started timidly with focusing on ``sustainable community development'' being
defined as the efficient use of resources generating the least amount of waste
while providing a high quality of service to communities. We want to provide
high quality services and we want to do that in ways that prevent pollution and
generate the least amount of waste.
Our members are ready for more. They are ready for FCM to lead them toward a
broader perspective on sustainability that reflects sustainability from the
social and economic perspective.
We are well defined on the economic side; all of our environmental
initiatives are designed to generate dollar savings in the operation of
municipal governments. We have not reflected well enough on how much we
contribute to the social dimension of community life, whether it is through job
creation, community engagement, citizen programs and so on.
Clearly, it is about efficient use of resources generating the least amount
of pollution, but it is also about community economic development and engaging
on the social side.
Our members are prepared for much more about how Canadian municipalities nest
in the national and international forums. They are quite advanced in their
understanding that no one community can be sustainable, because a truly
sustainable community lives within its own means; it does not make an ecological
footprint out of its geography. That is impossible. We are an integrated world.
They want us to help them assess their ecological footprint, and the effect they
are having on their neighbours' community. They want to know how they can
contribute to the global situation around sustainability?
That is advanced thinking and we are quite excited about it because it opens
the door for us to expand the way that we deal with Canadian municipal
Senator Milne: Have you come up with a report of this work?
Ms. Comeau: We have a draft report from the consultants. This will
allow us to redefine our own definitions and our own materials. I would be happy
to share it with members of the committee.
Senator Milne: It would be valuable for us to have a copy of that
I come from Brampton and of course you know Toronto's problems with its
garbage. I do not see many communities actively doing anything to harness the
methane from their garbage and to use that to create power.
Do you know of any communities that are converting methane into power? Do you
know of any fast, easy, cheap and portable power stations that can be moved from
garbage dump to garbage dump to convert the methane into power?
Ms. Comeau: There are a number of communities looking at landfill gas
capture and have in fact already captured their landfill. With the green funds
we probably have about a dozen communities right now looking at their options,
and in fact we have two important pilot projects.
We have done a lot of analysis on this subject, and on what is it going to
take to advance this program. There are two issues on the table. Most municipal
governments are not required by legislation to deal with emissions from
landfills. Those that are required to deal with emissions are only the very big
ones and they are not grandfathered. It is for the future. Therefore most
landfill sites are not required to capture their emissions. Municipal
governments do not have an incentive to actually do anything about it. Methane
is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, so if you simply capture it and
flare it you already have a significant environmental benefit. You have gone
from 21 to one in terms of carbon dioxide.
My hope is that every single site in Canada will be viable for utilization,
which is actually taking that gas and not just flaring it but also using it for
electricity. It turns out that isthe smaller opportunity. There are fewer sites,
perhaps less than a dozen sites where they are big enough, where there is enough
gas to generate electricity, and where they are close to anything that can
utilize it. What you are doing is looking for a landfill site that has something
adjacent that can actually use the electricity or a utility that will buy the
We have one project in Waterloo, where the city is earning a royalty from the
company that is capturing the methane from the landfill site. In exchange for
the royalty they give the carbon rights to the company. The company generates
electricity that it sells to Ontario power, and they forward the carbon credits
to Ontario Power Generation.
We have two pilots underway with an engineering firm and with a commodity
trading company. We have assessed the carbon value of the methane that we
calculate we can capture at two sites in Nanaimo and Fraser Fort George, and
based on the calculation of the carbon and the current market price of between
$1 and $3 a ton, we advance the money to the communities to do the capture and
flare project; they advance no money at all. We own the carbon rights for the
period that the money is outstanding and will sell the carbon in order to repay
the money. Once that is over, the carbon goes to the community and the community
can choose to do with it as it wishes.
We think this is a vehicle for tapping the potential of landfill across the
country. It will work only if municipal landfill gas is allowed to participate
in the offset trading program. There is some discussion and debate about whether
or not that will actually occur. We are part of that discussion and hopefully
that will remain on the table.
There is significant potential but not all of it is on the utilization side.
We could certainly share a list because we know the communities that are working
on this and we have a pretty good idea of who will do what.
Senator Milne: That would be good for us as well.
The Deputy Chairman: Do you get the money back that you advanced? Have
you asked any private funders to get into this program?
Ms. Comeau: This is what we are doing right now. We have the two pilot
projects and we have advanced the money. We expect to announce our first trades
this summer. The company that is selling the carbon credits is Natsource and we
have private sector buyers now lining up to buy that methane.
Senator Merchant: You mentioned Regina, which is where I am from. I
heard on the news a couple of days ago that the Government of Saskatchewan is
interested in making a deal with the City of Regina to capture methane. Do you
know anything about that?
Ms. Comeau: While we were in the there were discussions in progress.
Regina announced a commitment to buy 10per cent of its electricity from green
power. A number of things are going on, although we have not heard the exact
Senator Finnerty: Public transportation is needed to reduce emissions.
Can you think of any way that we can encourage people who have two or three cars
per family to take public transportation? California has great difficulty
encouraging people to do use public transportation.
Ms. Comeau: This will be one of the most complicated challenges that
we will face in the next decade and will require great strength from the three
levels of government. We do have an opportunity through the Strategic
Infrastructure Program, because that program is looking at significant
investments in transit.
We believe that funding should no longer be unconditional but should be
attached to performance criteria. With respect to transit, for example, we
should not be investing in transit if it is not supported by transit-supportive
We must also require that there be commitments to ridership. At the local
level, our members have to begin to consider some hard work, including
congestion pricing, restrictions on parking and parking pricing. These are not
things that my members are very keen on when it comes to the political reaction
of citizens. However, our job is to push, so through the green funds we do what
we can to advance that kind of work.
We must make alternative transit convenient for our citizens. Land-use
planning and transit operations must be close to the people; if it is more than
five minutes walk away they will not us it. We need land-use changes in order to
support mixed-use development in order that folks will walk to the store. We
need investments in cycling routes and pedestrianwalkways, et cetera, so that
people have alternatives to using their cars.
It is our view that the infrastructure spending and the climate programs
spending require supportive policies. This will be complicated and it will take
a long time to get the ball rolling.
Senator Finnerty: If we could get transportation into cell power, then
we could reduce the emissions.
Ms. Comeau: Just to set transit in context from a greenhouse gas
perspective, the numberone thing we could do with regard to transportation is
vehicle fuel economy and major changes to the internal combustion engine. It is
important to keep that in mind. We think there needs to be major incentives on
hybrid vehicles, et cetera.
On the transit technology side, the more we can do to move from diesel to new
technologies the better, but from that we are getting an air quality benefit.
That is not really a greenhouse gas benefit because that puts more transit
vehicles on the road and actually increases emissions relative to what existed.
You do not, at the balance point, take that many cars off the road. So have to
do some things in parallel and you cannot ignore the fact that the main thing in
dealing with vehicles is the vehicle itself.
On the transit side, the technology opportunities are huge. We know that if
you want to increase penetration of new technologies into the marketplace, the
first place to start is with fleets. Municipalities run a lot of fleets. We have
lots of garbage trucks, transit fleets, police fleets, et cetera, so there is an
opportunity, by focusing on procurement and fleets, to affect the marketplace.
Senator Merchant: What sort of effects would the development of
federally mandated ethanol content for consumer fluids of around 5 per cent have
on satisfying some of the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol? Saskatchewan is very
interested in ethanol fuel.
Ms. Comeau: I would go even higher than 5per cent. Obviously, the
question, as always, is what is ethanol made from?
The biggest CO2 bang comes from cellulosic-based ethanol that is
agriculture-based as opposed to the grain-based ethanol. We are currently into
the grain-based ethanol.
On a life cycle basis, when you consider the energy that went into growing
the corn, the transportation of the corn and so, there are some improvements but
it is limited. It is in the 20per cent range. That is not insignificant but is
not as good as the 80 per cent to 90per cent that you get with an Iogen
approach, which uses enzyme technology with agricultural waste such as straw.
At a cellulosic level you would have a pretty good impact. Having it become
part of the fuel blend, again, it is not 80per cent neat, but it is certainly a
contribution. You will get a few million tons of reduction.
The bigger value is rural diversification, value-added products and the nice
link between the urban and rural. We need to diversify rural economies and
agricultural economies in terms of value-added; that is a real opportunity and
moves to what we call the ``bioeconomy.'' You would not necessarily see the
long-term value of this, but we think that if we are going to be sustainable we
need to move to the bioeconomy, and that means using more and more natural
products like ethanol and packaging materials from agricultural products, et
cetera. There is a huge opportunity with the bioeconomy.
Senator Cochrane: How many municipalities across the country are
engaged in programs for this sole purpose?
Ms. Comeau: Do you mean in regard to climate change?
Senator Cochrane: Yes.
Ms. Comeau: One hundred and eight communities have joined the project
and they represent about one-half of the population. All of the capital cities
have joined. When they join, they start with a resolution passed in council.
They commit themselves to using our five-milestone framework, which I will
explain in a moment. They set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and
they appoint a staff person to work with us to advance this program within their
The five-milestone framework takes them through a process that starts with
doing an inventory and a projection; you have to know where you are today and
where your emissions are going to go and set a target and develop an action
plan, both for the municipal corporation and the community. Thus, there are two
processes that occur. They have to execute their plan, of course, and then
evaluate that plan.
The green fund program encourages them to apply to our enabling fund for
grants to do the first three things. Our investment fund provides low-interest
loans to enable them to do the actual projects. Of course, they can go to the
infrastructure programs and use their own resources as well.
In the last two years, within the group that we have we have had huge growth;
we have had a 50per cent increase in participation. Therefore, a lot of groups
are at the very beginning of the process; 40 communities are either finished
their inventories or are in the process of sorting out that information stage.
About 10 communities have developed corporate action plans and about three or
four have gone to the community-wide level.
Therefore, we are in early days of something we think offers great potential
and momentum as we move toward the Kyoto period.
Senator Cochrane: I come from Newfoundland. Has the City of St. John's
become involved in this program?
Ms. Comeau: Yes.
Senator Cochrane: I know that the recycling industry is experiencing
financial difficulties, some of them do not have enough funds to bring in
equipment to recycle all the items that they receive.
It was only last week that I heard that there is a recycling plant in the
community of Cornerbrook that is having recycling problems. I heard that a plant
was delayed. Do they not have enough financing?
When individuals are turned away from a recycling plant it deters them from
making the effort to recycle in the future.
Ms. Comeau: You might be surprised at my answer. I believe that we
have gone the wrong way on this question of recycling.
I have pointed out to our members that it is not necessarily their
responsibility to take care of the garbage. They are not necessarily the ones
who should be responsible for all of the recycling programs. Many of the
programs we have in place have been pushed and pursued by industry as a way to
absolve them from the responsibility for the waste that they are creating.
Producers need the take responsibility for the waste that they are
generating. We need more take-back programs. We need more consumer rebate
programs like we used to have; people would return bottles for rebate.
We are looking at working with the electronics industry where, when you buy
your computer, you would pay a fee, the same way you would with tires. You pay
$5and then the fee goes back to the recycling process.
The real opportunity is to get those materials back to the manufacturers for
those products. The entire burden has been brought down to the municipal level.
We are trying to find markets. We are trying to generate revenue to pay for
recycling programs, and essentially taxpayers are subsidizing industry.
We are looking for different ways to manage waste that puts the burden where
it should be, which is on the polluter and where we move more toward what we
call ``extended producer responsibility'' and where the product goes back to the
manufacturer for them to reincorporate into their manufacturing process.
This is why we have problems, because the burden is where it should not be
and because municipalities are being forced to find markets for products that
are really not their concern.
Senator Baker: I want to congratulate Ms. Comeau who has been more
active than anybody else that I can think of in environmental issues with the
Sierra Club and other organizations. Over the years, Ms. Comeau has been
involved with air, water and any other type of pollution control that the
government has suggested she study.
Ms. Comeau, I would like to know why you called the last budget of the
federal government a ``doomsday budget''?
Ms. Comeau: I am glad you asked me that question. I have to share a
story about management expectations with you. In our meetings with members of
the government and the finance minister, we have all come to accept that
expectations are not well managed and that communication is not well handled.
Every day leading up to the budget, FCM and its members were led to believe
that there would be significant investment in municipal infrastructure. We were
relating that to current levels of investment, which happen to be about
$1billion a year.
Senator Baker: As a point of clarification, what you are talking about
in investment in infrastructure, is the very investment that you are advocating
before this committee today to meet the subject that we are talking about. Is
Ms. Comeau: Yes, exactly. That is why we are pushing. Our view was
that the best outcome would be to maintain at least $1billion a year of
What happened was that we opened the budget book and we saw $100million a
year allocated to what they call the ``small-scale'' infrastructure Canada
program, and $50milliona year over the next two years to the Strategic
Infrastructure Fund. Their disappointment was real.
Subsequent to that, in conversation, what could have been done better in the
way that the material was presented was to say, ``We are allocating $3billion;
we expect you to spend that within three years and we will then begin the
discussion of topping up.'' That would have solved the entire problem.
That has been the discussion we have had since that time; the new program,
$2billion in the Strategic Infrastructure Fund, and $1billion in what they call
the small-scale municipal program. We are being encouraged to work hard and get
our applications in and get that money spent as quickly as possible to get into
We are coming to a point of view where we believe that the program had
$1billiona year in it and it will continue to have $1billion a year in it and we
will continue to ensure that it has $1billion a year in it.
The reason I mention that greenhouse gas reductions need to be part of the
discussion is because, until the budget document, greenhouse gas reductions were
not mentioned as a priority for the program. That is new and that was in the
budget document. How that will be defined, we do not know.
I understand that the small infrastructure program could be the place where
there are investments on the greenhouse gas reduction side and, hopefully, in
partnership with the green funds.
My concern is that the Strategic Infrastructure Program is not where they are
looking to for greenhouse gas reduction projects. As these are such large-scale
projects, the actual outcome could be an increase in emissions, because you are
building plants that were not there before. It is pretty important that you are
looking at those investments. If you look at what we have invested in so far, it
is primarily in roads. We need things other than roads in the Strategic
Infrastructure Program. I am excited about some transit projects that are in the
We also need to ensure that if we are building wastewater treatment plants
that they are energy efficient, that they are maximizing the use of renewable
energy and that they include water conservation. The less water you process the
less energy you use.
It is important that this committee continues to push for greenhouse gas
considerations in the new infrastructure programs. We are thinking about the
climate program. The budget talked about $1.7 billion, but there is much more
spending on the table that could influence emissions than just the climate plan.
Senator Baker: Do I take it that you are withdrawing statement of the
Federation of Canadian Municipalities that the budget was a doomsday budget for
Canadian municipalities in that, you said, ``$100 million next year does not
address the $57-billion national infrastructure deficit in the country.''
Are you withdrawing your statement that it was a doomsday budget? Are you
going back on everything you said?
Ms. Comeau: Absolutely not. $1billionis still not close to the need,
but at least it is relative to where we were. If we can get up to $1billion, we
are doing better than we thought.
Senator Baker: The pamphlet that was handed out from the Federation of
Canadian Municipalities states,
That improvements can be measured in several ways; a reduction in the
amount of one or more pollutants to the air, water or soil.
What is the position of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities concerning
the use of pesticides? You have been involved in this much-discussed issue and
have spoken out against the use of pesticides. I refer specifically to the rural
areas of Canada, where industry and provincial governments spray pesticides to
control insects of many species that are a threat to our forest industry.
Sometimes municipal governments become upset when the spraying takes place
close to a populated area. What is the position of the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities on the use of pesticides in Canada, not only over large areas of
land and in the air for the control of forest insects but also for pesticides
Could you also make reference to the position of the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities in respect of the upcoming spraying of mosquitoes?
Ms. Comeau: I believe our membership has reached a good position on
this subject. We represent municipal governments and we are focused on what
happens within municipal government boundaries and so we have a strong position
on the responsible use of pesticides.
We support our communities that seek bans or restrictions on the cosmetic use
of pesticides. We operate a pest information Web site to provide the latest
We supported Hudson, Quebec, in a Supreme Court case that was enormously
important in confirming the right of municipal governments to pass by-laws that
exceed but do not conflict with provincial legislation. It is probably the
single most important decision to establish municipal governments as an order of
We believe there are risks associated with pesticide use, that responsible
use is essential, and that to the degree that we can limit cosmetic use of
pesticides within municipal boundaries on public lands that is an appropriate
way to go.
We are not saying to all municipalities that they should ban the use of
pesticides. Rather, we are saying that each community should make its own
decision on what is appropriate for that community. We support the community's
right to determine what is acceptable for that community and how it should
manage pesticide use.
Concerning the West Nile virus, I would argue, and the research we have done
bears this out, that the time to deal with mosquitoes and West Nile virus at the
larval stage with the use of larvicide in standing waters before they hatch.
Aerial spraying is not efficient and is, in fact, dangerous and a higher risk
to human health than the West Nile virus. We need a much more rational approach
to the way in which we have been handling this problem. We are seeing a much
stronger emphasis on the larvicide approach as opposed to aerial spraying. That
will evolve and we will see a decrease in the aerial spray approach.
Senator Baker: I noticed that the witness is saying, ``I think.''
Ms. Comeau: This is the position of the FCM.
Senator Baker: I noticed that you added a qualification, as well:
Ms. Comeau: That is correct.
Senator Baker: I was referring to the necessary use not the cosmetic
use. Could you answer in respect of the non- cosmetic use of pesticides?
Ms. Comeau: That is not a position for the FCM to take because we do
not run farms. We represent municipal governments and that is why I started by
saying that FCM's position is restricted to the use of pesticides by municipal
governments. That is why we focus on the cosmetic use of pesticide within
The issue of pesticides within outlying areas and the effects on water runoff
comes up in a discussion around watershed planning. That is another subject
Senator Milne: You have said that you represent only municipalities.
You represent Strathcona County and you represent many cities and regional
districts, such as Fraser-Fort George Regional District and York Region. Those
regions have farms and are rural as well as urban municipalities. Therefore, the
FCM does represent a large number of farmers.
Ms. Comeau: That is true. However, I am focussing on where we are now.
There are 38 different ways to describe a municipality: town, village, hamlet,
county, et cetera.
I am saying that our position is focused on the cosmetic use of pesticide in
municipal boundaries. That is the position. We do not tell farmers what to do.
As I suggested in reference to watershed plans, the municipality will not tell
the farmer how to manage their farmers. They will have a say on what is coming
into the water system.
We are working with our communities to encourage them to look at options such
as sewer-use bylaws and watershed planning to manage what is coming in from the
outlying areas. That is a different discussion and not yet fully evolved. The
cosmetic side is developed within the FCM.
Senator Milne: Are any of your municipalities doing anything right now
to encourage citizens to do something about the stagnant water sitting on the
top of swimming pools? Right now, swimming pools are full of wrigglers. The
municipalities, in my opinion, should be warning their citizens about this and
should be encouraging them to clean up their pools early this year.
Ms. Comeau: If you look at today's Globe and Mail today you
will see a full page from Toronto Public Health on things that citizens can do
to deal with standing water in many locations, and pools are included. The City
of Winnipeg is about to release its West Nile strategy and Regina is about to
reveal their plans for larvicide treatments. There is public education happening
in municipalities. They are working to share information. The public health
departments are handling most of the information.
Senator Watt: Do you have a membership from Nunavik, Nunavut, and
Ms. Comeau: I did not bring the full PCP list but Iqaluit is a member.
The list I have with me is comprised of only the folks that participated at the
Regina meeting. I should have brought the full PCP list.
Iqaluit participated in the Regina meeting and Keith Irving, a councillor
from Iqaluit gave a very important presentation. Mr. Irving's' presentation
informed us of the changes that are occurring as a result of climate change. It
was a powerful presentation.
Senator Watt: How do you go about soliciting potential members?
Ms. Comeau: We make presentations to councils. More visible climate
change issues and the Kyoto Protocol debate have prompted many requests for
information. We have folks that do presentations to councils and staff. We have
our own membership processes. For example, when we did our resolution campaign,
we sent out resolutions for councils to consider all of the FCM's members. It
always comes up at our annual conference, which usually attracts 1,500 or so
members. We work through all of our normal communication methods and our own
networking at the core of the FCM membership and we are spinning all of the
Senator Watt: If I could pass on the message, would that be helpful?
Ms. Comeau: Absolutely.
The Chairman: What jurisdiction is responsible for setting laws to
capture emissions from landfills? Is that a bylaw of the city councils, or is it
a federal issue?
Ms. Comeau: It is a provincial jurisdiction.
The Chairman: Have the provincial governments moved on this issue?
Ms. Comeau: No.
Senator Eyton: You cite a number of numbers and aggregate the
municipalities in Canada. If I can paraphrase, you have indicated that the
municipalities collectively are one-half the problem and one-quarter of the
I recognize that Beaverton is different from the greater Toronto area, and
that Cranbrook is different from Vancouver, and so on. I suspect that of that 50
per cent and 20 per cent that I mentioned, let us say the five or six largest
urban centres are responsible for 80 per cent or 90 per cent of the problem you
mentioned, the 50 per cent problem, and are probably challenged with respect to
the solution. Much of the initiative will have to come from the larger centres
that contain the industry and the greatest population and the largest emissions.
You add up the numbers and say you have 500 municipalities, but many of them,
in a sense, are not part of the problem, and they are a very little part of the
To what extent are you supported and how much energy is there within the
larger municipalities that are more involved and mostly strapped for funds? To
what extent are they engaged with you in the programs you are talking about
Ms. Comeau: You raise a fair point in terms of relative impact.
However, I would not argue for ignoring those other communities for several
reasons. We find in the small to mid-size communities that there is a lot more
room for innovation. We can do things more quickly in mid-sized communities
because the lines of communication are shorter and they are more ready and
capable of trying on new technologies in particular. There is a lot of
innovation in that size of community, and a dollar saved to them is just as
important as it is to Toronto. What drives our communities is the fact that they
are saving significant money.
In terms of the big cities, we are working with all of them. We have a big
city mayor's caucus of FCM. Climate change is a big issue in the big cities.
Those are the communities that moved first on the landfill gas, because they
have the big sites and big opportunities. They have also been the ones that
established their revolving funds and the major programs to retrofit their
buildings. Toronto led the way, but Hamilton and Winnipeg are participating as
well. Calgary and Edmonton have huge building retrofit programs where all of
their buildings are being retrofitted, saving millions of dollar a year. Calgary
has the Ride the Wind project where wind power fuels their light-rail transit
system. In many cities the lights are being retrofitted.
Their biggest challenge is moving from the corporate responsibility to the
responsibility of the community as a whole. In that regard, Toronto is no
different. Vancouver is doing a lot of work, retrofitting its own buildings.
When you get out of the corporation and into the community and you start
controlling for land use planning, pushing mixed used development and
controlling for sprawl, this is where you get into your challenges. None of our
communities have that one yet. They are in their corporation sorting out what
they can do and just starting to say, ``How do we manage this thing outside the
Senator Eyton: We have just begun these hearings, and I am learning as
I go along. I am inclined to believe that the solution is not so much government
command as public demand. It is the public that has to be persuaded, and the
public that has to say, ``I will buy this kind of refrigerator or drive this
kind of car and manage my own energy consumption.'' Who best and how to sell the
We are talking about governments and strictures and requirements and
regulations, and by definition, that takes a long time to get in the books and
be effective. The public demand can be quick. Who generates the demand? Who best
to do that of the three levels of government?
Ms. Comeau: All three orders of government have a role to play.
There needs to be strong incentives at the federal level. The kinds of
incentives we have today are minimal and timid. If you buy a hybrid vehicle if
the U.S., you get a $2,000rebate. We need a $2,000 rebate to buy hybrid vehicles
in Canada. If you want to make the shift from SUV purchases to more efficient
vehicles, you have to give an incentive to the consumer. That can be done as a
match of federal and provincial funds. The experience of cooperation in this
regard is limited.
If you look at the wind power production incentive, which is a program run
out of NRCan to basically take 1 cent off the cost of producing wind power, the
deal is that the provinces were supposed to come in and they did not. We missed
at a chance to get at the premium, which was in the 3-cent range. Either they
partner or not, but the two of them could do that together. We could do the same
thing on green power. We could have stronger incentives to encourage consumers
to buy green power.
We also need more efficient programs. We have been having some good
discussions on this subject. There is a need for general public education
programming, and I argue for a more targeted approach. I believe that we should
approach the consumer right at the point of purchase. We should offer incentives
to get people when they are in the store and target them on information. We
should demonstrate the differences between this light versus that light, or this
fridge versus that fridge, and have incentives right in the store.
NRCan has determined that incentives for sales people that give them more of
a commission on selling an energy- efficient product is an effective way to
achieve results. There is much that can be done to move the consumer along, but
I would not argue that it is through general education. We will get better
results when it is targeted at point of purchase and includes incentives for
both the consumer and the retailer.
We must use that process to move consumers into the top end of the 20 per
cent best in place. We must use legislation such as the Energy Efficiency Act to
move the bottom up.
The climate plan talks about vehicle fuel efficiency standards are
negotiating with the motor vehicle manufacturers to increase efficiency 25 per
cent. That should be the bottom line now. We use incentives for the 60 per cent
or 80 per cent improvement in the hybrid end.
The Chairman: You mentioned that, apart from the infrastructure
program and the money that is being spent on greenhouse gas initiatives et
cetera, there are all kinds of other monies being spent in other government
departments. That would be very helpful to us, because we are concentrating on
the 1-tonne challenge and how that can be done. It would be useful if you had
specific ideas about the other departments of government.
Ms. Comeau: Environment Canada is the group that has the mandate in
terms of education and outreach. The Climate Change Action Fund, whose funding
is coming to an end as well, is looking to determine whether it becomes the
vehicle for delivering the 1-tonne challenge.
You need to talk to Environment Canada and ask what they are going to do with
the Climate Change Action Fund. How will it be restructured? How do they intend
to deliver the 1-tonne challenge? Would they be funding community groups?
The Green Communities Association is a growing national group that delivers
residential retrofits, water conservation programs and waste management
programs. They are little non-profit groups that go into homes and look at your
water and energy and look at how you manage your waste andguide you toward
better recycling and conservation. Initially, those programs were supported by
Ontario, but now NRCan through the EnerGuide primarily supports them.
I do not know if you are familiar with that program. They do audits, which
are critical. If they want to deliver the 1- tonne challenge, they really should
support green communities and other groups such as that to get into the
community and actually do the outreach work with municipalities in order to get
those things going.
The other challenge aside from the One-Tonne Challenge is that a number of
federal funding programs, such as Technology Partnerships Canada, need to focus
more on delivering greenhouse gas reductions. Of course, they have supported
Iogen and others, but there is significant spending in that regard that could
also deliver reductions.
There are billions of dollars in technology programs, university research
programs, and so on. The other is the Panel onEnergy, Research and Development
that brings together 12 federal departments that coordinate their federal
research and investment. That is another area that needs focus on greenhouse gas
The two main departments are NRCan and Environment Canada. You might also
want to look at HRDC. When we met in Regina, we mentioned the importance of
engaging youth. HRDC has a lot of programming aimed at youth and youth
employment. There is much we could do at the community level in terms of youth
employment programs that would be tied to the 1-tonne challenge.
Senator Finnerty: How do we find people to do these assessments?
Ms. Comeau: If you would like the Green Communities group to come to
talk to you, I can provide you with that information. In fact, I will be talking
to Clifford Maynes of that organization today, so I can even give your clerk his
Senator Finnerty: It would be very helpful to make the public aware of
this, because most of us do not know what we are doing wrong in our homes.
The Deputy Chairman: We recently travelled to San Francisco to study
energy matters. We uncovered a successful utilization of utility companies, in
both conservation and efficiency. Not only did they conserve energy; they made
money. In fact, the state of California made about $2 billion.
What are your views on using the utilities to assist in the 1-tonne
challenge? I know that British Columbia and Manitoba use them, but not all do.
Ms. Comeau: First, there is a network that goes right into people's
home. People get utility bills, and we get a lot of information to consumers
through those bills. There is also the opportunity for providing programs,
whether to retrofit your home or to buy energy efficient appliances.
I would argue that, although appliances and heating systems are important
since they both use a lot of energy in the home, the biggest issues are vehicles
and where the electricity itself comes from.
To the degree that the utilities are pursuing a program of efficiency, that
is great, but the most important thing is green power. We must invest
significantly in that. This, in my view, is a failure of the climate plan. It
talks about a commitment to 10per cent of new supply, which is very timid. In my
view, it should be 10per cent of electricity supply by 2015.
The Deputy Chairman: That is another part of the program in
California. It is called ``integrated energy management.''
Ms. Comeau: Yes, it has to be efficient and use green power.
The Deputy Chairman: I also want to ask you about the approximately
five large companies that control everything we do in food production and
agriculture. What is their role in the question of ethanol? If they wanted to
step up to the plate, it would just happen.
Ms. Comeau: I cannot say that I have come across that as an interest
point. I have certainly seen real interest in the agricultural community and in
the biotechnology industry, but I have not seen it come in onthe actual
value-added food production side of it. I have seen it at the farming level.
The Deputy Chairman: So they are not yet engaged?
Ms. Comeau: I cannot say that. I have not seen it. That does not
necessarily mean that it has not come to us through our work at FCM. That does
not mean that they are not engaged; I just may not be seeing it in the work we
The Deputy Chairman: TransAlta, for example, is going into wind power.
When a big company steps forward like that, it makes a difference.
Thank you, Ms.Comeau, for appearing before us this morning. This has been a
very provocative session.
The committee adjourned.