Regina administration to revisit renewable energy plan once more in September

A plan to get the City of Regina's operations using 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050 has hit another bump in the road after it was unveiled at a Wednesday meeting, more than two years after it was initially voted on.

Revised plan to make city operations 100% renewable by 2050 sent back to administration in 9-2 vote

Sign of Regina City Hall
The Planning and Priorities Committee decided that the city must create a plan more reflective of Council's 2018 vote to become a 100 per cent renewable city by 2050. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Nearly two years after Regina's city council voted unanimously in favour of becoming a "100 per cent renewable" city by 2050, the city laid out details of a new sustainability plan at a Wednesday meeting.

City resident Yvette Crane said the proposal's focus on transitioning to renewable energy simply for municipal operations and facilities rather than for everyone living and working inside the city limits is too limited in scope. 

"I don't see that road map clearly laid out in this document, and that is disappointing and frustrating," Crane said.

"This report must be strengthened to include a road map to get us to 100 per cent renewable by 2050. That is what the original motion stated. Let's not settle for half."

Nine of the eleven members on the Planning and Priorities Committee agreed and sent the document back to the administration to create a new plan more in line with the motion's original aim. 

According to Ward 3 Coun. Andrew Stevens, while changing how Regina is powered will require a significant effort, it is not a radical proposition. 

"This is being done, and has been done years ago, by some communities," he said. "And they're reaching their targets already. So I'm worried that we're thinking about this like a feat that has yet to be accomplished."

Regina Ward 3 Coun. Andrew Stevens said the groundwork for more sustainable municipalities has already been set in other jurisdictions. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

Stevens said the City of Regina has an opportunity to get the process up and going because other communities have already set the groundwork for municipal sustainability.

"Frankly, some of it is copy-and-paste in terms of policy ideas that can then be costed and situated in Regina specifically," the councillor siad. "We're not reinventing the wheel."

Mayor Michael Fougere voted against sending Wednesday's proposal back to the administration. Fougere said he believed the city was ready to move forward with the less expansive plan.

"I supported, as council did unanimously, to move forward in the framework that was focused on city operations … with the intention that we would be moving this forward in a community-wide discussion later on," he said.

"I still favour that. I think, as an incremental approach, that's fair."

Mayor Michael Fougere said he favours an incremental approach towards transitioning the city to renewable energy. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

According to the mayor, there has not been enough public input on the proposal to date.

"For the moment we're getting lobbying groups that are lobbying us, not the general public," he said.

"And that's okay … but we've got to find a way to ensure that we have the general public, who are not vested in this, state their opinion and how they feel about this."

Fougere also said he hopes the energy sector, including oil and gas companies, will play a larger role in the final sustainability plan. 

"I favour, in the short term, a discussion with the energy industry," he said. "They absolutely do have things to say about efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint.

"We all know that they'll be phased out and I accept that and I think most people do, but to exclude them at al from a discussion I think is unfair to them. … I do feel oil and gas, when I say energy, is a contributor to some of the solutions."

University of Regina geography and environment professor Emily Eaton, who spoke at the meeting, says she believes a true commitment to becoming a renewable-powered city by 2050 would be transformative for Regina. 

"When we are talking about 100 per cent renewable, we're talking about changing the way everyone in our city gets around, how and where we work, how we access services and how we live and take care of one another," she said. 

The administration's new report will be revisited by the Planning and Priorities Committee in September.