City Council adopts list of sustainability targets

A plan to make Minneapolis more sustainable is one step closer to completion after the City Council approved a lengthy list of goals at its March 31 meeting.

The list features 24 sustainability targets focused on making the city &#8220greener” and improving the quality of life for residents now and in the future. The goals include reducing carbon dioxide emissions, improving air and water quality, increasing the use of mass transportation, raising the graduation rate and increasing the number of block clubs. The list is the focal point of a broad plan to make Minneapolis the most sustainable city in the nation.

Gayle Prest, the city's environmental programs manager and a leader on the sustainability plan, has said the city needs to set aggressive targets to get Minneapolis to the top of the list of the nation's most sustainable cities. She urged members of the Health, Energy and Environment Committee to think about how they can work to ensure the city meets its sustainability targets.

&#8220Each of us are going to have to say ‘How can we affect these indicators? How can we affect these goals?'” Prest said.

Some committee members argued during the committee meeting that the goals outlined in the plan don't go far enough in challenging the city to become truly sustainable. Councilmember Cam Gordon (2nd Ward) said he wants the city to look not just at its unemployment rate, but at the number of residents earning a livable wage.

He also said the city should strive to increase the number of its trees rather than set a goal of &#8220no net loss of tree canopy cover.”

Councilmember Diane Hofstede (3rd Ward) said the sustainability target of &#8220no more than 11 homicides per 100,000 residents” didn't go far enough - the city should strive for zero homicides, she said.

&#8220It seems we have an opportunity to push ourselves further and push the city further. In my heart and best judgment, I'd like to see many of [the sustainability targets] strengthened and changed,” Gordon said.

But Prest told committee members that while many of the goals could be much more stringent, the list was made with the idea that each target should be realistic and measurable.

&#8220There are some cities out there that have set all these goals, but those are the studies that sit on the shelf because there's no way you can reach them all,” Prest said.

The Council approved two amendments to the list of targets that will put greater focus on measuring livable wages and issues of disparity throughout the city.

In June, the City Council will review its first annual sustainability report and will discuss progress and challenges. In the meantime, the city will revise its Web site to provide better sustainability information and will continue to gather baseline data that will be used to measure how much progress has been made toward sustainability.