With almost 40 others I attended the annual Community Environmental Forum conducted at the Town Hall last Thursday night. It was very encouraging to see such a strong attendance by a very well informed and passionate audience!
An overview of GEs Environmental Sustainability Strategy (ESS) and actions taken since last years forum was given as well as new initiatives already planned for 09/10 These included the increase of the uptake of Greenpower from 5 to 15% and the bringing forward of the energy efficiency measures refit of six key council sites- $260k allocated in this years budget.
Questions, suggestions and comments were taken from the floor and were recorded under the five sections of the EES- What was impressive was the amount of knowledge
and expertise we are fortunate to have in GE.
Participants then ranked their environmental priorities according to the issues raised. From my notes the issues that were given the highest priorities for council to address were-
-restoring natural wetlands
-increased planting of indigenous species in our parklands and reserves
-a comprehensive listing of these species to enable residents to better choose and source appropriate plantings
-continual quality training and education for council officers
Greenhouse Gas Emissions-
-implementation of GE Carbon Neutral policy,
-better leadership and vision from council
- more energy efficient street lighting
-facilities and processes to recycle Ewaste and fluoro light bulbs and globes
-improved stormwater collection and usage
-installation of rain gardens
-the redirecting of rate rises to fund these programs
Information and Education-
-home energy audits and improved info to help residents reduce their carbon footprint
-wide consultation and community engagement in formulating new bicycle strategy
-improving the quality and coverage of canopy trees in GE
-acknowledgment and provision for local food grown in the community and the planting of community gardens
-stronger incentives for developers to include sustainabilty measures in new applications
The general impression I gained from those attending was that while this council is encouragingly taking some positive steps to improving its environmental credentials and deserves credit for this ,there is still a long way to go before achieving best practises in a wide range of areas.
Many thanks to Mr.Peter Waite and Cr.Nick Stailkos respectively for very abily facilitating and chairing this forum. It was pleasing to see the Mayor Helen Whiteside and Cr. Margaret Esakoff also in attendance- hopefully next year we will have all Crs there at this important forum!