Manitoba still lacking solid environmental plan

Tomorrow Now document lacks forethought, innovation

Once again, the Manitoba government has put out another document in its feeble attempt to promote a real, solid, economically powerful vision of sustainable development for this province.

The document, entitled Tomorrow Now, is a 54-page document outlining what might eventually replace the current Sustainable Development Act.

The document, which came out in June, has been going through a series of consultations with the Manitoba public. Let’s take a look at what good things this plan has to offer, as well as its ideas that lack inspiration.

The Good

The government plans to at least look at reviewing its current policies at advancing clean technologies, while at the same time harnessing local talent for green business opportunities.

Tomorrow Now also suggests the provincial government will look at enticing international investment and entrepreneurs to push a green energy strategy.

However, I have many reservations, given that this province uses hydro as the main green energy source.

Manitoba’s plan to be a leader in environmental education in the school system gets some positive spin in my books here. After all, if people are going to learn about the environmental issues of the day, it’s through the school system, and not MTV.

The plan includes a sustainability plan for all schools by 2015.

Meanwhile, the document acknowledges the creation of a Grade 12 course on sustainability, while creating a guide on green jobs.

Increasing bio-products for consumers and bio-energy is also a positive step.

The province’s biggest asset is their willingness to promote wildlife, through protecting the Boreal Forest through the UNESCO Heritage site, along with adding 15 provincial parks will no doubt keep dark green environmentalists extremely happy.

The Bad

Of course, what would a Government of Manitoba environmental plan be without “raising awareness?”

While I think education about environmental issues is great, don’t we already know many of the environmental problems plaguing society? I think most people would agree, as with climate change for example, that we already know the problem.

We know polar bears’ habitat is threatened and future societies will have to deal with warmer climates.

We don’t need more awareness raising - we need action.

In the document, there is also too much emphasis on individual choices.

OK, I understand about the concerns over depleting resources and the importance of making individual choices towards a sustainable environment.

I understand the importance of reduce, reuse and recycle.

However, some of the simplistic suggestions like using baking soda and lemon as house cleaners, turning off your lights, riding your bike and carpooling are too stereotypically eco-chic.

For once, I wish environmentalists would have a serious talk about growing an economy to create real jobs, and investment to boost new industries, rather than propose simplistic lifestyle changes.

For once, I wish environmentalists would have a serious talk about growing an economy to create real jobs, and investment to boost new industries, rather than propose simplistic lifestyle changes.

Another downside to Tomorrow Now is its reliance on hydro.

Granted, Manitoba is blessed with hydro as a clean energy source, but the plan still touts hydro as the backbone of its clean energy development.

Let’s instead promote renewable energy entrepreneurship.

Let’s use our universities to deliver some top notch new sustainable MBA programs, along with creating green business incubators that can deliver the best sustainable development leaders on the planet.

Lastly, the biggest disappointment with this document was its lack of a coherent plan in terms of adapting to extreme weather events.

What happens if a freezing rain storm cripples Winnipeg in the middle of January, rather than a blizzard?

What if we get a derecho event in the summer, the same one that knocked out power to millions of people on the East Coast of the U.S. this summer?

Quite frankly, the lack of a coherent plan for creating smart grids, or upgrading basic infrastructure to deal with more extreme weather events shows the lack of strategic thinking for the future.

Here’s hoping a real coherent plan will come together for a true, bright green environmental vision in Manitoba.

Adam Johnston is a freelance writer living in Winnipeg who writes on renewable energy and sustainable development issues for and Triple Check him out at or on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg.

Published in Volume 67, Number 8 of The Uniter (October 24, 2012)

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