Hamilton Spectator
Meredith MacLeod

The motion, advanced by Councillor Sam Merulla on behalf of Blue Green Canada, read in part that the city “declares its continuing support for the development of the green economy, as a set of effective economic development strategies that achieve complimentary environmental and energy benefits while creating jobs.”
 

A move to affirm Hamilton’s pursuit of a green economy generated a lot of discussion at a city council meeting Thursday.
The motion, advanced by Councillor Sam Merulla on behalf of Blue Green Canada, read in part that the city “declares its continuing support for the development of the green economy, as a set of effective economic development strategies that achieve complimentary environmental and energy benefits while creating jobs.”
 
After deleting a second part that asked for all provincial political parties, leaders and candidates “to respect the importance of the green economy to” Ontario, council’s general issues committee approved the motion with an 8-6 vote.
 
It was later ratified by council.
 
Mayor Bob Bratina called the resolution “a great motherhood statement.”
 
Bill Thompson, Hamilton’s regional co-ordinator for Blue Green Canada, said he’s “puzzled” by the concerns expressed by some councillors. Blue Green Canada is a partnership between the United Steelworkers and Environmental Defence.
 
Councillor Brad Clark said the motion could be interpreted as a partisan endorsement.
 
“I have concerns that this could be interpreted as the green economy that has been put forward by Premier (Dalton) McGuinty. … We shouldn’t be allowing ourselves to get involved, intentionally or unintentionally, with a provincial election campaign.”
 
Thompson said the motion was intentionally non-partisan and reflects all the work the city is already doing toward environmental stewardship in waste reduction, energy conservation, co-generation and brownfield remediation.
 
He said citizens have a right to know what each party will do to move the green economy forward.
 
Other councillors worried the motion was too vague and could signal Hamilton isn’t friendly to some industrial sectors.
 
“I’m just really uncomfortable in terms of what the deeper meaning of this might be,” said Councillor Tom Jackson.
 
“The intention was to make it vague, so that everyone had a role to play,” said Thompson, who made a presentation to the committee.
“There is no one way to build a green economy, but the object is to build a green economy.”
 
City staff say the motion wouldn’t change much about the city’s approach.
 
“We’re already doing it,” said Tim McCabe, general manager of economic development and planning. “It’s already part of our strategy. I don’t think we need it, but it doesn’t do anything to change our strategy in any event.”
 
Neil Everson, the city’s economic development director, said his department is “very aggressively” pursuing investment in the clean technology sector, including renewable energy. He said the principles of a green economy can be applied to all business sectors in the city.