One of the biggest industrial operations in the Bow Valley has signed a commitment to conservation that will be in place until 2050.
Executives from Lafarge Canada’s western division and the World Wildlife Fund Canada were on hand last Friday (May 6) to officially sign the Rocky Mountain Conservation Partnership.
Senior director of science and practice for WWF Steven Price said his organization’s main focus is to conserve biological diversity, species habitats and the ecosystems they live in.
In order to do that, Price said, WWF needs to engage with government and leaders in industry like Lafarge that recognize their operations have an environmental impact.
“We have a responsibility to work with businesses that want us as partners to drive down those impacts,” he said. “It is extremely important in a global context to conduct research and apply it to day-to-day challenges.
“We chose to work here on wildlife because it is such a strong issue and value in the valley.”
Brad Watson, environmental manager for the Exshaw plant, said the signing of the agreement is important because it shows a long-term commitment locally.
“This is a very important initiative in my mind in that we have a vision to say what are the possibilities out to 2050 and what can we do to be sustainable?” Watson said, adding the local plant plans to be in operation a century into the future. “We need to coexist with our neighbours, both wildlife and people, so we can operate in this valley.”
René Thibault, president of aggregates and concrete, said Lafarge’s vision is to be an undisputed leader in construction materials.
But to be successful, he said, the company needs to have sincere respect for the environment and a true commitment to its responsibility.
“Today really is a celebration of what we do for sustainability here… it does happen at a local level,” Thibault said.
President of cement Bob Cooper said the vision signing is a reaffirmation of a conservation partnership with WWF that began in 2004.
“Locally, we are committed to improving our environmental footprint,” he said.
Cooper said, for example, in Exshaw the plant is looking at its emissions and water discharge as areas to improve.
Lafarge operates the Exshaw cement plant along with two aggregate pits, shale, limestone and sandstone quarries.
Since signing the initial agreement in 2004 it has contributed towards the Eastern Bow Valley Corridor Study, infrared camera work and the Elk Collaring and Ecology Study.
Of particular concern is the movement of large species like grizzly and black bears, cougars and wolves in the eastern Bow Valley where Lafarge’s operations are based.
Cooper said the vision agreement commits Lafarge to studying wildlife movement and developing plans in conjunction with WWF, the province and MD of Bighorn for what the company needs to do.
He said currently there are pinch points in wildlife migration and movement patterns and Lafarge needs to understand what impact its operations have.