The purpose of Sustainable Camrose is to provide information for City of Camrose residents about the environment and sustainable living at both the individual and community levels.

Sustainable Camrose is a product of the Green Action Committee and will feature topics that present new information for residents or that contain information from a new perspective. The focus will be on local issues that residents can relate to, but we will also include ideas from elsewhere. Each topic will highlight a benefit to residents or the community, be it health, economic, environmental, or something else.

Find out more about the Green Action Committee. 

A Conversation with a Local Electric Car Owner

A Conversation with a Local Electric Car Owner

By the Camrose Green Action Committee

An EV owner's perspective:

Electric vehicle sales are increasing, and many people are wondering if their next vehicle should be electric. We spoke with local resident Stacey Wall about her 2021 Hyundai Kona EV, which she has owned for one year, long enough to know the car, short enough for it to still be fresh. We wanted to know how she felt about her electric car.

1. Before you purchased your EV, what questions did you have about making the switch to an EV?
I didn’t have too many questions, as I had done a lot of research on electric cars. However, my biggest question was how far I could go on a single charge. I did a lot of research into which vehicles offered the best range but were not too expensive.

2. What were your first impressions when you started driving your EV?
My first impression was that it looked and acted the same as a gas vehicle. Other than it made almost no noise, it was hard to tell that it was an electric vehicle.

3. Did anything surprise you when you first drove your EV?
I was surprised at how quick and responsive it was, more so than my gas vehicle. When you put your foot on the pedal there is no delay in power being sent to the tires. When you take your foot off the pedal there is also an immediate reaction, you can feel the power cutting out right away.

4. Where do you normally charge your car?
I charge it at home in my garage with the charger we installed. All we needed was a welder’s plug, which we had, so we bought a charger online and just plugged it in.

5. How often do you charge your car?
When I drive it to work in Wetaskiwin, I charge it every couple of days. But if I am just driving around town, I only need to charge it once every week or two.

6. Can you drive your car to Edmonton and back without having to recharge?
I actually bought the car when I was going to school in Edmonton 5 days a week. I can make two full trips to Edmonton and home before I need to charge it.

7. Can you keep your car warm in the winter?
Being warm is the best part of having an EV car. I remember working a 12-hour shift in Edmonton when it was -45oC. Everyone at work kept going out to their vehicles every few hours to start them. I left my car out in the cold for the full 12 hours. When my shift was done, I got in my car, turned it on with no problems, put the heat on full blast and the car was warm within a few minutes. Meanwhile my colleagues had to run their gas vehicle for 15-20 minutes before they were able to drive home.

8. Is it inconvenient to recharge on the road when traveling a long distance?
I have not done too much long-distance driving (aside from going to Edmonton), but I have not had any problems. If I go to a quick charge station, I can get a full charge in 30 minutes. This gives me time to stretch my legs, go to the washroom, or get a snack.

9. Can you compare the cost of operating your EV with the cost of operating a conventional gasoline powered car?
I can go between 400-420km on a full charge. A full charge costs me about $8 in electricity when I change at home. To go 400km with my gas vehicle is about $80.

10. What questions do other people ask you about your EV?
Lots of people ask me if I can drive to Edmonton or other areas outside Camrose. The other question they ask me is how much it costs to buy. I love answering this question because I think many people see electric cars as Teslas, which are expensive, but there are many other companies now that make really good electric vehicles, and do not cost more than a gas vehicle.

11. Do you think there are some things that most people don’t understand about EVs?
People seem to think that electric cars are a major inconvenience or that they are not reliable. People often tell me they don’t want an electric vehicle because they are worried about what they would do if they broke down or run out of charge. I find these comments a little frustrating, because first of all I make sure I have enough charge to go where I need to get (just like you would make sure you have enough gas) and if I broke down, I would do what I would do if I was driving a gas car; I would call a tow truck or a friend to come get me.

12. Are there things about conventional gas vehicles that you miss now that you have an EV?
Nope. I am actually trying hard to think if there is anything I miss and I just can’t think of anything. Honestly, I love my electric car and cannot wait to get an electric truck to replace our other vehicle.

More about charging your EV on longer journeys

Pam Stacey and Glen Hvenegaard bought a small electric car in the summer of 2021. Here’s what they have to say about longer distance travel with an EV.

We’ve really enjoyed our trips with our EV. We use an app on our phone that tells us where to find chargers, how fast they charge, the cost, and whether they’re working/available. You definitely have to do more trip planning with an EV. However, we’ve seen a big increase in the number of fast charging stations available this past year. This summer we were able to travel easily to central Saskatchewan whereas last summer we didn’t take the EV because it wasn’t really feasible. We’ve found it easy to travel around BC and in Alberta south of Edmonton. Some chargers are free, but otherwise a typical battery charge from 20% to 80% at a fast (level 3) charger costs about $20, takes about 40 minutes, and gives us about 300 km of range in the summer and about 250 km in the winter. Charging is a welcome break from driving, and we can take a walk, read, or have a picnic. In winter we can stay warm in the car with the heat on. Often there are stores and restaurants nearby. We’ve found that many hotels have installed overnight (level 2) chargers, like the one we have in our garage at home. At a campground or someone’s house you can plug in to a regular electrical outlet to slow charge (level 1). If you’re there for a couple of days, you’ll have a full charge when you leave! Overall, we’re really happy with our quiet, fun and cheaper-to-drive EV!

A mechanic’s perspective:

Eric Elliott has been servicing automobiles in Camrose since 1983. We asked Eric for his opinions about electric vehicles.

What kind of routine maintenance do you need to do on an electric vehicle? How will the maintenance costs compare to a regular vehicle?
Some of the routine maintenance is going to be very similar to what we would do for a gasoline vehicle such as changing tires for the seasons, and looking after the brakes, steering and suspension. However, oil changes aren’t required for EVs as they don’t have engine oil. There will be gear oil or fluid to be changed, but that only needs attention about every 100,000 km. EVs have so many fewer moving parts compared to regular vehicles that routine maintenance is less and therefore the cost to the owner is substantially reduced.

Can I take my EV to my local mechanic, or will I have to take it to a bigger centre like Edmonton?
This depends on your mechanic and their knowledge base and what your EV is requiring. Most typical maintenance mentioned above should be able to happen with your local mechanic. However, more involved repairs will probably have to be done at your dealer in a bigger centre if your community doesn’t have one.

Is it easy to get replacement parts for an EV? Are they a lot more expensive?
It’s too soon to tell for some components. Other parts are easy to get through standard suppliers. It really depends on the make of your EV. Just like gasoline vehicles, some parts are easily available and affordable, but for higher end luxury cars, they are expensive and can only be obtained through certain channels.

I don't want a fickle vehicle. Are EVs reliable?
EVs have way fewer moving parts so there is less to go wrong in some respects. Are they all reliable? Just like any other vehicles, there are good ones and there are lemons. Doing your research is important before you purchase any type of vehicle. Both types will have parallel problems, so you have to weigh out what is right for your individual needs and financial situation.

Other things of interest

A study was done in 2022 by Clean Energy Canada to compare the cost of operating an electric vehicle with the cost of operating a similar internal combustion vehicle. The result was that in almost all cases it was cheaper to operate the electric vehicle. View the full study by Clean Energy Canada.

This year in Norway, about 85% of new vehicle sales are electric. As a result, Norway’s cities are quieter and have healthier air. Learn more about electric vehicles in Norway.

Many electric vehicles now have bidirectional charging. That means that if your car is plugged in, electricity can come into the battery for charging, or out for powering something else. For example, if you have solar panels, you could charge your car for free on a sunny day and run your house from your car battery during the night. Typically, an EV battery would run a house for about three days. This gives the homeowner a big economic benefit.

Water Use in Camrose: How the Toilet Rebate Program Benefits Us All

Water Use in Camrose: How the Toilet Rebate Program Benefits Us All

By the Camrose Green Action Committee

To understand how important the Toilet Rebate Program is in Camrose, we should think about water use in Camrose generally. We spoke to Jeremy Enarson, Manager of Engineering with the City of Camrose and he helped us with some facts.

How much water does Camrose use?

Jeremy told us that in 2021, the city of Camrose withdrew 2,587,400 m3 from Driedmeat Lake, the reservoir on the Battle River from which we obtain our water. That is approximately 2.6 billion L. This was only one year. We do that every year.

Some water goes directly to the Cargill canola crushing plant, but still, just over 2 billion L in 2021 went on to the City of Camrose water treatment plant and then was dispersed to the community for residential and non-residential use.

Most, but not all, of the water that Camrose uses becomes wastewater that is treated and then returned to the Battle River. On the way into the city during treatment, much of the sediment, dissolved compounds and most microorganisms are removed from the raw water and chlorine is added. On the way back out, the wastewater is filtered again, so what we take out of Driedmeat Lake is not the same as what we return and that impacts the aquatic environment of the Battle River. It is important to consider that we have an impact on the environment of the Battle River by removing and then replacing so much water.

How much does the water utility cost the residents of Camrose?

Electrical pumps are used to move our water. The cost will almost double when the new wastewater treatment facility comes on stream in 2023. The entire cost to operate the water utility in 2021 was $6.9 million and covering that cost comes from the utility rates we pay. The taxes we pay may get spent on services, buildings, playgrounds, or other assets that our community will have for years to come. However, funding the water system and the money we spend on water is different. Annual operational costs for the water system come from the utility rates; money in, money out, much like the water! Funding for the water infrastructure often comes from utility reserves, Offsite Levies from development, and from grants.

Why is water conservation important?

Financial cost is one thing, but there are other things to consider. Water use by agriculture, industry, and communities puts substantial strain on the ecosystem of the Battle River. The Battle River is a prairie-fed river that obtains all of its water from the rain or snow that falls within the watershed. Our climate is changing, and, in the future, there may be less water available in the Battle River, or the water available may become less reliable. Besides supplying water for human needs, the Battle River Watershed Alliance reports that the river also provides critical ecosystem services valued at an estimated $3.5 million per year. The floodplains and wetlands of the Battle River provide services of an additional $80 million per year. We all want to live surrounded by a healthy natural world as it is also important for our own health, therefore it’s imperative that we think about using our natural resources efficiently and responsibly.

A good question.

What changes can we make that will reduce the amount of water we use, and the cost, without having a negative impact on our quality of life?

One proven solution is to replace old, high-volume toilets with newer low flush toilets. The low flush toilets work just as well and there is no loss of performance. They just use less water and save us money. Approximately 30% of a household’s water is used for flushing toilets so this is an easy change that makes a big difference. That was the idea behind the Toilet Rebate Program that Camrose began in 2008.

The graph below shows the amount of water saved by the Camrose Toilet Rebate Program. 37,904 m3 saved in 2022 equals about 38 million L…and the savings are growing each year.

Since 2008, 1,557 inefficient toilets have been replaced in Camrose under the Toilet Rebate Program. The City estimates that the low flush toilets have saved about 38 million L of water! Keep in mind that these efficient toilets will continue to save water and money for years to come.

The graph below shows the amount of money the Toilet Rebate Program has saved the residents of Camrose. Nearly $73 thousand dollars in 2022 and again, continues growing each year.

The Toilet Rebate Program reimburses a homeowner $70 for the first toilet replaced in their home and up to $50 for each additional toilet replaced. This program has cost the city $10-12K/year. That money is easily made up by reduced water costs. Of course, savings will vary depending on how much the toilet is used. The City estimates that a family of four can save up to $100/year on their utility bill.

The Toilet Rebate Program has been a successful initiative that has saved residents of Camrose water and money and eased pressure on the Battle River. Find out more about the Camrose Toilet Rebate Program and how to apply here.

How to Keep Your House Cooler in the Summer Heat

How to Keep Your House Cooler in the Summer Heat

By the Camrose Green Action Committee

The Challenge of Summer Heat for Camrose

Our climate is changing, and we can expect longer and more extreme summer heat waves in the future. The University of Lethbridge hosts a site called Alberta Climate Records that provides historical information and predicts future climate for anywhere in Alberta. A quick click provides historical data and future predictions about several climate variables for Camrose. There is predicted to be an increase in the number of hot summer days (temperature exceeding +30oC) for the Camrose area.  Between 1991 and 2017 there was an average of 4 +30oC days per summer.  For the years 2041 to 2070, it is predicted that our summers will become warmer and drier and there will be an average of 42 +30oC days per summer.  If that prediction is anywhere close to being correct, summer heat is an issue that we should take seriously.

Figure 1: From Alberta Climate Records: Camrose can expect to have many more summer days with temperatures above +300C.

Summer heat is dangerous. There were 595 deaths during the heat dome in BC in 2021. Over 15,000 died from heat in Europe in 2022.  A hot house is also uncomfortable, and a homeowner can spend a lot of money on electricity keeping it cool.  Fortunately, there are some easy ways to keep a house cooler during summer heat waves.

Cities are Heat Islands

Summer heat is worse in cities. Cities are called heat islands because they are hotter than the surrounding countryside on a summer afternoon.

Figure 2: More dark, hard surfaces =hotter: more vegetation =cooler.

The hottest parts of a city are the places with the hardest surfaces that can’t absorb water, like concrete and asphalt. It is even worse if the hard surface is dark, because dark colours absorb light and convert it into heat. The coolest parts of a city are the places where there is the most vegetation, especially trees.

Outside Your House

The factors that make cities heat islands also apply to a house and yard. A light-coloured house reflects sunlight so it will be cooler on hot days. It will be more comfortable and less expensive to keep cool.

Research at the University of New South Wales found Sydney’s outside temperatures can be reduced by up to 2.4oC simply by eliminating dark roofing. The research also found that a light-coloured roof could reduce temperatures inside the home by up to 10 degrees during a heatwave. As a result, dark roofing material is being banned in the state of New South Wales, Australia. If you are renovating your house exterior, the lightest colour for siding and roof is best.

Figure 3: This light-coloured house will stay cooler on the inside and the yard will also be cooler than if the house was darker.

The Importance of Plants

Figure 4: This house is kept cool by the shade tree.

Trees and other plants also help keep houses and yards cooler. Just like animals, plants have to protect themselves from overheating. They do this by allowing water to evaporate from their leaves. This process, called evapotranspiration, cools the air. Trees are natural air conditioners!

Trees and bushes also provide valuable shade. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), materials shaded by trees may be 11–25°C cooler than the peak temperatures of unshaded materials. The more vegetation there is around the house, the cooler the air and ground will be. Trees located on the south side of a house are particularly helpful.

Trees and other vegetation also reduce the rate of surface water runoff and reduce evaporation from the ground. This keeps more water in the soil and the water moderates the temperature. Having trees that provide shade and planting lots of other plants around your house is ideal! 

Figure 5: A yard and house that benefit from shade trees and cooling vegetation.

Rain gardens. Rain gardens are a portion of lawn or landscape planted to hold, filter and slowly release surface water runoff from roads, roofs, parking lots or other impervious structures into the landscape. Rain gardens retain moisture and moderate the temperature. Arranging your yard to retain moisture so that soil, plants and air are kept moist will moderate the air temperature.

Figure 6: A rain garden captures rainwater to keep the soil moist and cool.

Hardscaping. Hardscaping is a trend in which a yard is landscaped without plants. Instead, the ground is covered with decorative rocks or bricks and in place of a lawn there may be artificial turf. Hardscaping makes summer heat much more intense. On a hot summer day, if you walk across a street barefoot, it would be hot on your feet. If you then stepped onto grass, it would feel cool under foot because of the natural cooling properties of plants. But if you stepped from the street onto a hardscaped yard, it would still be hot. Having a hardscaped yard is like having a heater in your yard on a sunny summer day. Keep hard surfaces that cannot absorb moisture to a minimum.

Figure 7: This hardscaped yard contributes to a hotter, drier yard, making it more difficult to keep the house cool without air conditioning.

Inside Your House

You could just get an air conditioning unit and run it to keep your house cool. But the cost of the electricity to run it is never ending. The following tips may remove the need for air conditioning.

Windows and fans

In the evening when the outside air becomes cooler than the inside air, open all windows to let the cooler outside air into the house. If possible, put a fan in a window to push cooler air into the house. Consider turning on a bathroom fan to blow hot air out. This will draw cooler outside air into the house. In the morning, shut the windows to keep the cool air in the house, only opening them when it becomes warmer inside the house than out. You can also turn the furnace fan on to circulate air, drawing cool air up from the basement.

Window coverings

Keep curtains closed during the day, especially on south-facing windows, to help stop sunlight from heating up the house. If you need to replace window coverings, consider cellular blinds that have insulation value. They help to keep your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. If you don’t have a shade tree on the south side of the house, consider awnings for south facing windows. According to the US Department of Energy, window awnings can reduce up to 65-77% of solar heat gain.


Think about your appliances that work by making heat. Do you really need to cook with the stove and oven on days when it is very hot? Could you use a microwave or the BBQ outside? An induction cooker uses less electricity than a regular stove so is cheaper, and it doesn’t heat the air nearly as much. Do you have to heat water with a kettle, or could you use the microwave? Could you dry clothes outside rather than using the clothes dryer? Do you really need to use your toaster on hot days? By minimizing your use of these appliances, you will also find that you have saved some money by using less electricity.

All electrical devices that can be operated by a remote (such as a TV) are always on and generating heat whenever they are plugged in. Consider unplugging them when not in use, and check whether power bars could be turned off.

Light Bulbs

If you still have some old style incandescent light bulbs, switch them to LEDs. Incandescent lights give off 90% of their energy as heat, whereas LED bulbs generate less heat and use less electricity.


It is likely we will be experiencing more frequent and severe periods of summer heat, but with a little thought and planning, your house can stay cooler without expensive air conditioning.

  • Plan for a lighter coloured exterior with lots of vegetation, including shade trees.
  • Think about how to get cool air in at night and up from the basement.
  • Keep the sun and hot air out during the day.
  • Minimize the use of appliances that generate heat. Not only will your house be more comfortable, but you’ll also save money on electricity, too.

A Healthy Community Includes Healthy Air!

A Healthy Community Includes Healthy Air!

By Camrose Green Action Committee

Have you ever walked by an elementary school at pick-up time? If so, you likely noticed the smell of diesel and gasoline fumes from idling vehicles. Is this smell merely unpleasant, or is all that exhaust in the air a reason for concern? This article will shed some light on that important question.

Impacts of Exhaust on People and the Environment

The health impacts from fossil fuel exhaust have been widely studied and the consensus is that exhaust fumes are more than just unpleasant. The World Health Organization estimates that outdoor air pollution results in 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide every year and reports that children are much more impacted by air pollution than adults. According to the Canadian Medical Association, a Canadian is more likely to die of air pollution than a car accident! Research has shown that exposure to exhaust can result in both short-term and long-term health problems and that exposure to air pollutants early in life may have long-lasting effects (Environmental Health).

Exposure to gasoline emissions can result in increased risk of heart and lung disease and of cancer, among other outcomes (Environment and Climate Change Canada). Diesel exhaust is especially concerning, as exposure is linked to both carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic multi-system effects (Environment International). Scientific studies have shown that children who are exposed to more automobile exhaust because of where they live will have more cancer, higher rates of asthma, autism, attention deficit disorder, depression/anxiety, and lower intelligence (Car Exhaust). Why would we knowingly do that to our kids?

While the air quality in Camrose is generally good overall (Alberta Capital Airshed), in areas near idling vehicles or the operation of gas-powered yard care equipment the air quality can become much worse.

Vehicle exhaust contains many compounds that can harm our environment, such as fine particulate matter and carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change (Natural Resources Canada). If Canadians with vehicles reduced their idling by three minutes every day, we could prevent more than 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering our environment in 1 year. That’s like taking 340,000 cars off the road (Natural Resources Canada).

Gas-powered lawn mowers, snow blowers, and leaf blowers are also a significant source of pollution, as they don’t have filters to capture many of the pollutants, and those with two-stroke engines burn an oil/gas mixture that is more polluting than burning gas alone. One hour of leaf blower use can result in the amount of pollution produced by driving 1,800 km (Government of Canada). Yet the same person who would tell someone to put out a cigarette where children are playing would think nothing of starting up a lawnmower or leaf blower while those children were still present.

One of the health damaging toxins from burning fossil fuels is NO2 (nitrogen dioxide).The CBC radio program "What on Earth" recently did an episode on arena ice resurfacers.  Asthma is higher in kids who regularly play hockey in arenas than those who don't, because of the NO2 from the propane powered resurfacers.  If the arena switches to an electric ice resurfacer, the asthma rate of hockey playing kids drops.  It is a good thing that arenas are switching to electric powered ice resurfacers.  NO2 is also the reason there is increasing alarm over gas powered stoves. According to Scientific American, NO2 from a gas-powered stove builds up in the home and that is not good for the occupants.

Chemical Composition of a Car’s Exhaust Gas

What Can You Do to Help?

It may seem that taking action as an individual doesn’t contribute much to making a real difference. However, if everyone made a few changes we could improve the air quality in our community and the health of our citizens, especially children.

Embrace manual labour and electric power

  • As you are able, replace your gas lawn mower with an electric one. Take it a step further and reduce the amount of lawn that you need to mow, perhaps by planting fruits or vegetables (this is allowed in your front yard as well as the back!).
  • Think about electric for your next vehicle purchase. The number of electric vehicles being sold, as well as the number of public chargers available, is increasing steadily every year.
  • Leaves are an important part of the ecosystem, so consider leaving them in place to provide overwintering habitat for various critters and essential nutrients for your yard. When you need to remove them use a rake, or an electric blower instead of gas.
  • Use a shovel for snow removal instead of a snow blower or buy an electric blower instead of gas.
  • If you want a stove with instant heat, instead of a gas-powered stove choose an induction stove which has rapid heat and no fumes.

Reduce idling time

  • In terms of balancing fuel savings, emissions reduction and wear and tear on your vehicle, studies have shown that it’s best to turn off the ignition if you’re going to be stopped for more than 60 seconds (Natural Resources Canada).
  • For the average vehicle with a 3-litre engine, every 10 minutes of idling uses over one-quarter of a litre in wasted fuel – and up to one half of a litre if your vehicle has a 5-litre engine. Unnecessary idling wastes money and fuel and produces greenhouse gases that lead to climate change (Natural Resources Canada).

Keep up with vehicle maintenance

  • A poorly maintained engine can use up to 15% more energy when driving and idling than a well-maintained engine (Clean Air Partnership).

Reduce warm-up time

  • Excessive idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to warm it up is to drive it. With today's computer-controlled engines, even on cold winter days no more than two to three minutes of idling is usually enough warm-up time before starting to drive.
  • In the winter, use a block heater with an automatic timer to warm the engine a couple of hours before you start it (Natural Resources Canada).


Many communities have implemented bylaws limiting vehicle idling. While we don’t have such a bylaw in Camrose, there are many good reasons to limit the amount of pollution in our air. Exhaust from vehicles has been shown to be harmful to our health. It is also harmful to our environment. Excessive idling wastes money, time, and resources. Gas-powered yard care equipment contributes significantly to air pollution.

The good news is that community members can play a big role in helping to keep our air clean and our citizens healthy. As a further benefit, you may also find yourself having to stop by the gas station a little less often and saving yourself some money!


Alberta Capital Airshed

Canadian Medical Association

Car Exhaust

Clean Air Partnership

Environmental Health

Government of Canada

Natural Resources Canada

How to Make Your Yard a Haven for Pollinators and Native Plants (in development)

Coming Soon!

Profile of Net Zero House in Camrose (in development)

Coming Soon!

Tips to Reduce Home Energy Use (in development)

Coming Soon!
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