Municipalities are frontline stewards of the environment, protecting green space, treating wastewater, and managing solid waste. We act locally to protect natural assets and enhance community quality of life.
There are federal policy areas that impact local governments' ability to deliver the best environmental results for their citizens. Where this is the case, FCM becomes the voice for raising those concerns. Every year, FCM's Board of Directors selects three advocacy priorities, with the advice of its Standing Committee on Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development. During the 2011-2012 fiscal year, these priorities are: federal wastewater regulations, the green economy and climate change adaptation.
In March 2010, the federal government published the first draft of the Wastewater System Effluent Regulation. This regulation would create a universal standard for wastewater treatment in most of Canada. Municipalities support protecting Canada's waters. However, they have raised concerns about the regulatory requirements, and how the $20-billion+ implementation costs would be covered.
Canada is vulnerable to a range of effects associated with climate change, including rising temperatures; more frequent, intense storms; and rising sea levels. Although municipalities have focused their climate-change efforts on mitigation, it is not too soon to begin assessing their vulnerability to changes that have already been set in motion, and to develop responses that protect their citizens, environments and economies.
Canada's Environment Minister has spoken of the need for a "re-set" that better integrates federal environmental objectives into Canada's economic structure and infrastructure. Municipalities have an important role to play in this "re-set" - both as engines of our economy, and as champions already acting locally to deliver environmental results for Canadians.