New $125K St. John's climate change position should 'pay for itself': councillor

Coun. Ian Froude says the intent in creating the position is to reduce city waste and cost and to trigger federal funding that will offset the salary.

Councillor says the goal is to find ways to reduce waste and cost, and to trigger federal funding

Coun. Ian Froude says the climate change co-ordinator position at the City of St. John's should pay for itself by triggering federal funding and finding ways to reduce waste and cost in city operations. (Paula Gale/CBC)

The City of St. John's plans to pay a new climate change co-ordinator about $125,000 a year, but expects the position to pay for itself — and more.

The position was announced Monday in the 2019 budget.

Coun. Ian Froude told The St. John's Morning Show the intent is to have someone in the public works department looking across all city operations for ways to reduce the city's environmental impact as well as cost.

"The intent is that this position will essentially pay for itself and more in spades, and that's the hope and intent and plan for that role," he said.

As an example, Froude said, waste decomposition at the Riverhead treatment plant produces methane.

"Right now, at that facility we're using that methane to heat our buildings and recharge the decomposition process within that facility, and that's saving us about $100,000 a year in oil costs," he said. "So the intent of this position is to identify those sorts of initiatives that both have the role of reducing our costs and reducing our environmental impact."

Position allows city to access federal funding

The position comes with a salary of about $125,000, which Froude said reflects the specialized skills of someone in the job. He said having the position will let the city access other sources of funding.

"The federal government has significant programs to address greenhouse gas emissions and environmental initiatives, so having this person within allows us to tap into that source of funding," he said.

We're confident that we'll be able to find a strong candidate to take on that role and that opportunity.- Ian Froude

Pointing to the example of the Riverhead waste treatment plant again, Froude said St. John's might be able to get carbon-tax credits for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, providing revenue for the city.

"We're confident that we'll be able to find a strong candidate to take on that role and that opportunity," he said.

Froude said the city hopes to fill the position in the new year.

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