WHEREAS Alberta maintains some of the toughest air quality standards in the world; and
WHEREAS the current Provincial system of providing base funding to local air shed groups to maintain air quality monitoring, combined with provincial standards and guidance has worked well; and
WHEREAS the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties favors locally administered and direct solutions to local problems;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties calls upon the Government of Alberta to:
The primary reason to endorse the status quo on this matter is that “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. Air quality varies from region to region and Alberta has adopted a flexible approach to monitoring and managing air quality. To do this, nine air shed zones have been established to date and each is managed by an independent, non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization that works in collaboration with the Government of Alberta to monitor air quality within a geographic area.
Local governments, industry, environmental organizations and the general public are common participating stakeholders. The Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) also plays a role in endorsing air shed zones and providing other support. Most air shed zones operate regional ambient air quality monitoring stations and contribute to the management of air quality through education and special projects. Air sheds have also played a lead role in the development and implementation of air quality management plans that were needed under the CASA Particulate Matter and Ozone Management Framework.
Local groups being responsible for monitoring have the following advantages:
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development: The Government of Alberta is firmly committed to an integrated resource management system with a world-class monitoring system as its foundation. Under Bill 31, Protecting Alberta’s Environment Act, an arms-length agency called the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency will be established to excel in monitoring and reporting environmental conditions.
The agency will be the voice of authority on reporting environmental conditions to the public. It will oversee an effective and comprehensive environmental monitoring system that is science-based, accessible, and transparent, and that integrates monitoring across all aspects of our environment, including air, water, land, and biodiversity. The agency will obtain credible and relevant scientific data and information, and will report this to the public in an open and timely manner.
Airsheds have served this province well, and 2014 will be a transition year. Funding to support the work of the airsheds will continue, as this work is critical to the success of the new monitoring, evaluation and reporting system. Airshed associations should continue to work as we transition the current processes, functions, and roles. As part of the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring, funding commitments for 2014/15 have been made to the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association and the Lakeland Industry and Community Association. To date, funding commitments have not been made to the other airshed associations. An internal process to review funding applications for core operations and special projects is underway.
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development is looking forward to collaborating with the agency and the airsheds to build an agency that provides effective and efficient monitoring, evaluation, and reporting on environmental outcomes in an open, transparent, integrated, and co?ordinated way across the entire province.
The intent of this resolution is to maintain local autonomy in air shed monitoring across the province. While the Joint Canada-Alberta Implementation Plan for Oil Sands Monitoring has provided funding to some local organizations for continued air shed monitoring, the government response and 2015-16 budget does not provide any further indication to the direction of future funding and governance of air shed monitoring.
The 2016-17 provincial budget decreases funding to air quality monitoring, although this may re-emerge through the Climate Leadership Plan. Further, although the Ministry of Environment and Parks’ 2016-17 business plan identifies the following action item: “Developing and implementing air quality management action plans to address the Alberta: Air Zones Report 2011-13, which is based on Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards,” there is no indication that these action plans will include support for local air shed monitoring organizations.
Due to the lack of focus on local air shed monitoring in the last two provincial budgets, the AAMDC deems this resolution Intent Not Met. The AAMDC will continue to be a representative on the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA) Board of Directors and be involved in related initiatives. The association will continue to advocate on the intent outlined in this resolution.