Park City may accelerate green goals to meet potential Olympic year
November 29, 2018
Park City may be able boast it is green as Olympic athletes seek gold in 2030.
City Hall sees itself as having some of the country's most ambitious environmental goals, and officials could intensify the efforts through an accelerated timeline. An accelerated timeline could push City Hall goals forward two years, from 2032 to 2030. The potential target of 2030 is especially notable since Salt Lake City and the wider Winter Olympic region is interested in bidding for the games of that year should the United States Olympic Committee pursue the event.
The municipal government has a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions for municipal operations by 2022 and reaching that level citywide by 2032. A net-zero goal does not strive to eliminate emissions altogether but rather reduce emissions through a variety of measures and offset those that remain through alternatives like a sequestration program. City Hall also has a goal of running municipal operations on electricity generated through renewable sources by 2022 and hitting that mark citywide by 2032.
City Hall staffers on Thursday are scheduled to approach Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council about shifting the 2032 goals forward by two years. Such a move would not be tied directly to the Olympic possibility, but City Hall staffers address the games in a report drafted for the elected officials in anticipation of the Thursday meeting. The report notes the Utah Olympic Exploratory Committee, which issued a broad look at the prospects of the state hosting a second Winter Olympics after the games of 2002, detailed a games that would rely entirely on electricity generated from clean-burning renewable sources.
"If the Winter Games are awarded to Utah, many of the environmental programs that need to be completed for the games would benefit Park City's sustainability goals," the City Hall report, drafted by the municipal government's environmental sustainability manager, Luke Cartin, says.
The mention of the Olympics is intriguing as it shows the possibility of a games bid has started to influence some of the day-to-day business at City Hall. Park City thus far has not made the Olympic efforts a staffing priority, but sporadic mentions like the one in the report by Cartin illustrate the recognition that any Olympic effort by Park City will have wide-ranging implications on the municipal work plan and staffers, as they did in the earlier games era.
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Park City leaders envision a second Olympics as an event that could assist the municipal government in advancing priorities like sustainability, housing and transportation. They say there could be Olympic-related opportunities, such as through funding from Washington, to make significant progress on a condensed timeline as the region readies for the games.
The discussions about an accelerated timeline for the environmental goals were spurred by a recent United Nations report that detailed what it determined to be the quickening pace of climate change rather than the Olympic efforts. The elected officials in October indicated they wanted to hold a discussion about the possibility of adding urgency to the environmental programs through an accelerated timeline.
Park City leaders see climate change as a threat to the community's future, including the possibility of a warming planet someday endangering the ski industry that drives the local economy and an increasing risk of destructive wildfires.
The City Council is scheduled to hold a hearing and vote on an accelerated timeline at a meeting on Thursday starting at 6 p.m. at the Marsac Building.