A city staff report that was supposed to recommend sanctions against polluting public events is suggesting instead the voluntary planting of trees to offset carbon emissions.
Councillors passed a motion in January 2011 requesting the sanctions specifically with the 1000 Islands Poker Run in mind.
As it goes before Tuesday night’s meeting of the environment, infrastructure and transportation policies committee, the report contains just one reference to the power-boating event.
“Carbon offsets help but the damage is done,” said Martha Rudden, spokesperson for SPLASH – Sustainable Practices Leaving A Sustainable Heritage – whose members feel the boating event is contrary to Kingston’s environmental goals.
“Why not just try to be sustainable and not spew all of that stuff into the atmosphere?”
Over the course of the two-day event, dozens of large power boats travel between Prescott, Brockville and Kingston, emitting an estimated 100 to 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Rudden said city staff were put in a difficult position in writing the report. She said it’s really up to politicians to set policy.
The report recommends that organizers of any events on city property file a report containing “simple carbon footprint information” meant to “aid in identifying opportunities to decrease emissions and provide a baseline for any offsetting that the event organizers may wish to pursue.”
It suggests organizers “wishing to offset their carbon footprint” might donate to Kingston’s tree reserve fund.
“While tree planting is arguably not the most robust offsetting instrument available, it fits well with the scope of service that the municipality can offer,” the report reads.
Event organizers who want to do more than plant trees would be welcome to suggest “other innovative approaches.”
Rudden said city staff tried to negotiate offsets with the poker run organizers in the past but were rebuffed.
For the most part, the report talks about general environmental practices the city can require, including recycling, access to public transportation, not selling bottled water and ensuring events are fully accessible.
It also notes other cities that have banned balloons, insisted that brochures be printed on recycled paper and stipulated that food vendors use only eggs from free-range chickens.
Rudden said that even under the proposed policy, councillors could choose to deny the poker run boats access to the city marina and not close streets.
“That totally legitimizes the event,” she said. “Part of the issue is it’s a celebration of a completely unsustainable and unhealthy industry, the power-boating industry. By allowing Poker Run to use the park it’s like promoting an industry right in front of city hall.”
Rudden said SPLASH members are generally satisfied that the issue has at least resulted in a report to council, but they aren’t backing down on getting a total ban on the boating event.
“My gut instinct is to say no,” she said. “Is it all right to despoil the environment if you pay a price? Does it make it OK? I don’t think so.”
Article source: http://www.thewhig.com/2012/06/11/city-report-soft-on-polluters