Action Heroes honoured for green initiatives

Smog fighter Bonnie Denhaan is crossing her fingers that the “no idling” mindset will take hold sooner than the decades it took “smoke-free” to become mainstream.

Smog fighter Bonnie Denhaan is crossing her fingers that the “no idling” mindset will take hold sooner than the decades it took “smoke-free” to become mainstream.

Denhaan was one of the five recipients of the Parkland Airshed Management Zone ACTION HERO (Action for a Healthy Environment by Reducing Ozone) Awards at the Provincial Building in Red Deer on Wednesday.

It was also Clean Air Day.

Denhaan spearheaded the Sunnybrook United Church green initiatives including designating the church parking lot an idle-free zone. She challenged other churches to do the same and for residents to turn off the key.

Denhaan also criticized the omnipresent long lines of vehicles in drive-thru restaurant lanes calling them a “sink hole of pollution.”

Vehicle emissions are Red Deer’s largest source of air pollution.

Reg Watson, PAMZ chairman, said there are a lot of health repercussions such as lung health, asthma, heart and respiratory diseases that are linked to air pollution.

The annual awards were handed out to individuals and organizations that take the lead to reduce ground-level ozone, a component of smog.

Watson said it is commendable to see community members trying to improve the air quality in Red Deer and area.

He said over the years PAMZ has noticed the industrial pollution particularly from the petroleum industry had been going down on a fairly even rate but now has levelled off.

“Keep working at it,” he said. “Everybody can do something. Every little bit helps.”

Nancy Hackett, the city’s Environmental Initiatives supervisor, said the city cannot do it alone.

“We are trying to get our house in order to be efficient with our own water use and our own energy, waste but we need the 100,000 people that live in Red Deer to do their part,” said Hackett.

The City of Red Deer completed its greenhouse gas emissions corporate inventory last year.

The inventory will allow the city to establish a baseline and set targets to reduce its corporate impact on the environment.

Later this year the city will turn to measuring the community’s greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

In 2009, the City of Red Deer introduced its idle-free zone program that included an internal idle-free policy for the city fleet, the idle-free school program and partnering with other organizations.

In recent years, the fleet has switched over to more enviro-friendly and fuel efficient buses. Red Deer Transit was a HERO Award recipient.

Earlier this year the city also adopted its climate change adaptation plan which will position the municipality to be ready in case of flooding, drought or other extreme weather events.

To find out more about the city’s idle-free campaign, go to www.reddeer.ca/idlefree and more Environment Week events visit www.reddeer.ca.

To find out more about PAMZ visit www.pamz.org.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com