By Matt Duguid
Michael Fougere's mayoral candidacy was seen by many as a continuation of the policies implemented under Pat Fiacco. Fougere campaigned on continuing down the path that Fiacco had broken ground on, namely the Regina Revitalization Initiative.
The pair, Fiacco and Fougere, have worked together throughout Fiacco's 12-year stint as mayor, Fougere having served as city councilor for the last 15 years.
“I thought Pat was going to do a really good job, and I just supported him and what he was doing and we have tended to see things pretty much the same for the last 12 years,” Fougere told the Regina Leader-Post.
It is likely that Fougere will continue to focus on many of the issues that former mayor Fiacco did. What remains to be seen is whether Fougere continues to let those issues that were out of focus under Fiacco remain on the margins.
On the issue of recycling, composting and waste management it looks like Reginans will see a similar speed of action as they did under Pat Fiacco; that is to say, fairly slow. In the Green Provinces report card, issued by Corporate Knights annually, Saskatchewan ranked eighth out of nine provinces rated. Although the study considered waste management province wide it had some surprising results. Saskatchewan residents diverted 145 kilograms of waste per person, while New Brunswick residents diverted more than twice that amount, 357 kilograms per person, of waste.
Credit should be given to Fiacco and Fougere though, as both were part of council when the city voted to implement its first mandatory curbside recycling program, gaining final approval on Sept.17, 2012 and going into effect on July 1, 2013.
The program has been a long time coming, though. Even former mayor Pat Fiacco has recognized the city's slow speed of action.
“Here we are in the 20th Century, where a majority of Canadian cities have a curbside recycling program that's mandated and...in Saskatchewan the two major cities do not,” he told the Leader-Post after council had passed the new bylaw. To put it in perspective, when the first recycling collection trucks hit the streets in Regina, the City of Edmonton's curbside program will celebrating its 25th birthday.
Fougere's plan for recycling and waste management received criticism during the campaign as well. In a candidates' report card authored by the Regina Public Interest Research Group, Fougere's waste management and recycling policies garnered him an F.
When asked to answer questions regarding decreasing waste, improving recycling and instating a composting plan Fougere responded by writing “We have set aside $55 million for a waste treatment plan. I support the recently approved recycling program approved by the City of Regina. This service will start July 1, 2013.” With this Fougere avoided addressing waste management and recycling in any great detail.
“I don't think he gave us a concrete vision for the future in terms of detailed long term planning,” said Halena Seiferling, outreach and events coordinator for RPIRG.
If the new mayor does decide to follow the current Regina Waste Plan, residents could see new environmentally-friendly practices in the city. Work is currently underway to examine enhanced waste services that could include the collection of leaf and yard waste, household hazardous waste and bulky waste collection, but council won't be addressing any of these concerns until 2013.
In the meantime Regina will continue to lag behind other major Canadian centres in terms of waste management practices.