Red Deer City Council unanimously approved the 2019 Environmental Master Plan (EMP) Monday, which will guide the city into 2035.

This was a review of the original plan which was released in 2011. The new version is more streamlined, cutting down on the number of focus areas from seven to six and reducing the number of actions the city can take from over 120 to 20.

“Council had directed to keep the vision, that’s a 25-year vision about resiliency and sustainability and so we were really just needing to update what actions are going to take us there and what are our targets,” said City of Red Deer Environmental Initiative Supervisor Nancy Hackett.

The plan focuses on six categories: water, waste, energy, air, ecology and community design.

One key target is reducing the amount of waste headed to the landfill.

“The goal of the Environmental Master Plan is to increase diversion and there’s an action in there about repurposing,” said Hackett.

She adds that they have seen a lot of progress with the recent addition of the organic green carts.

Another focus is increasing the amount of renewable or alternative energy people use. Currently less than 1 per cent of energy usage is renewable; this plan would like to see that number jump to 25 per cent by 2035.

“Albertans use more energy per household than any other province so how can we work with our residents to get our energy use down to save money but also to help support a clean environment,” said Hackett.

Community gardens were another key focus. By 2035, the EMP would like to see over 1,000 garden plots and nearly 4,500 people benefiting from garden produce.

“Our target is to double what we have and increase local food production and healthy food access for our residents,” said Hackett.

“It’s not just the number of plots the city is providing but there are also some private organizations that provide garden plots.”

The city is already making headway. Water usage is down 22 per cent, beating the former 15 per cent reduction target. This has now been updated to hopefully have a 30 per cent reduction in the next 16 years.

“We can’t have life in Red Deer without water, a lot of industry needs water so it’s very important to have a steady and reliable source and we want to conserve it,” said Hackett. “It costs a lot of effort and energy to treat water and to create water through the water treatment plant for potable water so we’re using a lot of energy and a lot of resources. If we can conserve that then we’re reducing our impact of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions as well.”

She adds the city's rebate programs for low-flow toilets, rain barrels and mulch are also helping people save water.

The refreshed plan took just under two years to create and costed the city around $150,000.