The PGSS Environmental Committee kicked off its year on Tuesday with “Green Night,” an event showcasing recent environmental initiatives at McGill, including the work of the recently created, student-run Macdonald Ecological Garden at Macdonald campus, one of 13 new initiatives funded by the Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF).
The result of a movement spearheaded by McGill students, the SPF is a parity committee created to support environmental initiatives by McGill students and faculty members. The SPF has a budget of about $2 million over three years.
“It is a wildly genuine partnership of students and administration, not just because of the way the funds are set up but also because the committee itself is made up of four students and four members of the university administration,” said SPF coordinator Lilith Wyatt.
Emily McGill, a staff member of the Macdonald Ecological Garden, described how some of the money is being spent. She said the garden improves the local community’s access to locally grown food, and increases academic agricultural knowledge throughout the community by emphasizing research projects and holding various workshops, lectures, and tours of the garden.
In addition to the SPF, the administration recently embarked on a number of other initiatives aimed at making campus more environmentally sustainable, including making McTavish a pedestrian-only zone.
Chris Wrobel, a coordinator with the McGill Post Graduate Environment Committee, said that some practical elements in the University’s approach to sustainability are missing, however.
“I think it is a bit of a show. They have some showcase projects like the closing McTavish, but there are a lot more basic things they still have to tackle, like improving recycling efficiency,” he said.
According to Wrobel, McGill needs to become a lot more aggressive in incorporating more sustainable forms of energy and educating students and staff on how to reduce their energy use.
“Students need to be consulted a lot more on projects going on at both campuses. We don’t know…what they are doing and we certainly would like to have more input.”